Proposed business upsets neighbors

Posted: Tuesday, June 13, 2000

The possibility of a construction business next door to a rural residential neighborhood has got some people in the area up in arms. A conditional-use permit request will come before the Kenai Planning and Zoning Commission on Wednesday night that, if approved, will allow the project to go forward.

The project, an office, warehouse and storage yard, is off the Kenai Spur Highway between Lupine Drive and Ross Street, almost across from Robin Drive. It is being proposed by Clark Guffy, owner of Clark Guffy Construction, a home builder.

Nearby residents are worried that Guffy will maintain heavy equipment on the site and are concerned about their peace and quiet and petroleum products leaking into a gully that bisects the property and drains into the Kenai River.

"I have three major concerns," said Phillips Drive resident Joe Frank. "One, noise pollution; two, air pollution; and three, soil pollution."

Frank said he is allergic to diesel fuel and worries that heavy use of it in the proposed yard may affect him adversely.

Other neighbors wrote a letter to the Planning and Zoning Commission expressing their feelings.

"Diesel fumes cause one of us to become physically ill," wrote Bruce and Diane Porter. "In light of new revelations on the hazards of diesel fumes, can we be assured there will be no significant increase?"

The Porters wrote that they will be out of town at the time of the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting.

They went on to ask how a construction yard qualifies to be in a residential area and suggested it would be wise of the city to curtail semi-industrial use of land in that area.

The report prepared by the planning staff at city hall recommends the project be approved, saying the proposed use is consistence with the purpose and intent of the zoning district, in harmony with the city's comprehensive plan, and would not significantly impair the value of adjoining property.

Frank disagrees and said the city should have given him more notice in advance of the hearing.

"It's happened so fast and I have so little time," he said. "I'm going to wind up with only two weeks to prepare a five-minute presentation to sum up the 20 years we've lived here. It's just too easy for them."

City Planning Administrator Marilyn Kebschull said the Franks got more notice than most people.

"Code only requires 10 days notice," she said. "I sent (notice) out early to him."

Kebschull said other lots in that area have been rezoned commercial and that Guffy's plan looks like it will fit in with mixed commercial zoning.

Guffy could not be reached for comment, but his general manager, Johnny Janik, said neighbors don't have to worry about heavy equipment.

"There is nothing like that; we have no heavy equipment, and we don't plan on buying any," Janik said. "The largest thing we have is a 26-foot cargo truck."

Guffy's site use plan shows the structure on the lot will consist of a one-story office building attached to a double-height warehouse. Together the building measures 30-feet by 72-feet.

"The warehouse is just to keep stuff we buy in bulk out of the weather," Janik said. "There will be no construction on-site."

The gully that runs through the property will prevent Guffy from developing the back portion of the lot, which abuts the Frank property, but that's fine with Janik, who says they don't need all that space.

"There's drainage in the back of the lot, and we're going to keep it natural vegetation," Janik said. "We're only going to use the front half the lot."

Still, Frank and his wife, Michelle, are worried.

"We've put in a sauna and reflecting pool so that when we go home from work, we can relax," Frank said. "When (Guffy) is done, he goes home. If it's built, when I go home, I go to his work."

The Franks, owners of Peninsula Health and Nutrition in Kenai, said they are not against business or enterprise, they just don't want to see it in residential areas. They also do not want the Planning and Zoning Commission to postpone any decision.

"I want a decision made about this and I want it to be 'no,'" Frank said. "I don't want this to take all summer."

The commission meets at 7 p.m. in Kenai City Hall on Wed-nesday night.

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