Kenai plans ahead

Posted: Sunday, June 29, 2003

It's good to have a plan.

Kenai residents can rest easy knowing their city does. The city's updated comprehensive plan is in the final stages of development and likely will go before the city council next month for approval. Once that happens, the plan will go into effect to help steer the development of Kenai.

"It's a guideline for the city in the future, that's basically what the comprehensive plan is," said Ron Goecke, chair of the Kenai Plan-ning and Zoning Commission. "It's a guideline for future development and what people would like to see."

The draft plan contains a wealth of information pertaining to future development including land use and community services and facilities plans as well as historical and current information about the city, such as a settlement history and socioeconomic conditions.

"I'm pleasantly happy with it," Goecke said. "I think that the commission did a good job. I think that the public awareness of it was good, and I think that it's well put together. It was well thought-out and I'm happy with it."

The commission, which was tasked with overseeing the development the plan, will make the most use of the document once it is approved by interpreting the provisions and goals of the plan each time it makes decisions on things like conditional-use permits and subdivision proposals. But the commission won't be the only group that will find the plan useful.

"It's a tool that any group, whether it be the city council, planning and zoning, parks and recreation (commission), airport commission anybody such as that will use that comprehensive plan," Goecke said.

The last time the city's comprehensive plan was updated was 1992. The current incarnation has been in the works for about two years, Goecke said. In that time, the city has held several town-hall style meetings to allow the public a chance to give input into what the plan should entail and how they would like to see their city grow in the future.

Providing services for the city's senior citizens, maintaining and enhancing the city's natural beauty and developing a cohesive "downtown" area were some topics suggested by the public during the meetings.

"Everybody had a little niche, you know how it is," Goecke said of the meetings. "You have these people and they are super interested in this. Then anther group over here says 'That's OK, but I'm more interested in this.' So there was a lot of give and take that went into it. ... We hopefully covered most of the people's concerns and interests."

Since those town hall meetings, public interest in the plan's development has noticeably declined, to the point where no public comments were made at the commission's Wednesday meeting where they voted to approve the plan and send it on to the council.

"Those (town hall) meetings that we had at the senior center, there was quite a bit of interest in it," Goecke said. "Since that time my answer would have to be no, there's not been a great lot of public input."

Anyone interested in reviewing the draft plan can obtain copies of it at city hall or online at the city's Web site

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