The decision by the Kenai Planning
and Zoning Commission not to rezone Lawton Acres for limited business development makes sense.
Although economic development is crucial to the growth and survival of a healthy city, opening up more land on the edges of the downtown area is not the right way to encourage growth.
Business owners wanting to find attractive locations for their stores can't be faulted for wanting to build on a prime location with good highway visibility. However, with an abundant supply of both available land and vacant buildings, downtown Kenai has plenty of places where small businesses can thrive.
Recent efforts by the Kenai Economic Development Strategy (KEDS) group have highlighted the need to develop a more defined town center. Opening up more land along the Kenai Spur Highway would only thwart these efforts, further adding to Kenai's reputation as a sprawling, disconnected city.
A day will come when Kenai has outgrown the confines of its downtown business district. At that time, opening up areas like Lawton Acres may very well be in the best interest of Kenai residents. Until then, growth should be encouraged closer to the heart of town, rather than on the fringes.
Peninsula Clarion ©2013. All Rights Reserved.