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City of Kenai gets future view lots for $7,000

Posted: Monday, July 20, 2009

The city of Kenai may soon own some of the best view lots on Cook Inlet -- and for the low, low price of $7,299.

The Kenai City Council gave the OK on Wednesday to appropriate $7,299.30 to acquire five lots, which were foreclosed upon by the Kenai Peninsula Borough for unpaid property taxes in that amount.

The five adjacent lots are on Peninsula Avenue near South Willow Street. If bluff erosion continues as anticipated, buildings directly on the bluff will soon be gone, giving way to splendid inlet views from Peninsula Avenue.

Because the lots have small rental residences on them, some of which are occupied, City Manager Rick Koch said if the city does acquire the property through foreclosure, the city will work with the residents, giving them ample time to relocate.

Unless city inspectors find the rental homes to be unsuitable for occupancy, the tenants would be allowed to remain in them as long as four months, possibly longer.

Of the $7,299 owed in back taxes, $4,724 relates to borough taxes and the remaining $2,575 is for city of Kenai taxes and interest.

The last owner of record of the property was the First Baptist Church on Northern Lights Boulevard in Anchorage, according to language in the appropriations ordinance that was approved.

In a memo to the council, Koch said after the renters have vacated the premises, any improvements will be disposed of through a public sale or demolished. The property would then be used by the city for a public purpose.

It could serve as a contractor staging area during construction of the Kenai River bluff erosion control project, and subsequently could be developed into a small municipal park, Koch said.

All but Councilman Bob Molloy voted in favor of the appropriation.

The council unanimously approved an ordinance amending the city code by requiring screening between residential and commercial use properties and by providing that property adjacent to residential zones should have access routing traffic away from residential streets, where possible.

Screening already is required by code, but Koch said this makes the screening requirement less broad. When natural screening does not exist, developers will need to plant a combination of shrubs and trees and/or a six-foot-high wood fence or masonry wall.

The ingress and egress requirements are not currently in code.

In language of the code amendment, access would need to be from an arterial street; ingress and egress should route commercial traffic away from residential streets and developments might be required to create frontage roads.

The changes apply to Limited Commercial as well as Commercial zones.

To accommodate businesses adversely affected by recent changes to the city's Limited Commercial zone land use table, the council passed an ordinance that allows legally non-conforming uses to expand their businesses.

Among the impacted businesses is Anthony's Transmission on the Kenai Spur Highway across from Thompson Park.

The business was operating with a conditional use permit and the zoning code change does not permit expansion. Because the underlying zoning was changed, a hardship was placed on the business.

The new ordinance allows businesses, such as the transmission shop, to expand even though they continue to be non-conforming uses. Upon questioning Wednesday, City Attorney Cary Graves said the non-conformity goes with the property should it ever be sold.

After some discussion, the council voted to continue charging a 2-cent a gallon fuel flowage fee if fuel at the airport is delivered into the wing of an aircraft. The fuel flowage fee on bulk fuel was removed.

Speaking to the action before the vote, Councilman Rick Ross said, "I'm not in favor of the bulk fuel flowage fee. We're singling out one commodity."

The council also approved a resolution approving the purchase of three police vehicles through state fleet contract pricing. The police department may purchase two Ford police cars and a Ford sport utility vehicle. One of the police cars would replace a police cruiser, which was rammed by a suspect involved in a police chase in May.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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