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Council hears zoning plight

Posted: Monday, July 22, 2002

An ongoing dispute between neighbors reached a point that required the attention of the Kenai City Council Wednesday night.

The council held a Board of Adjustments hearing in council chambers regarding a piece of property in the Anglers Acres Subdivision. The lot is zoned rural-residential and has an existing conditional-use permit to allow a fishing guide business with no more than three guides to operate off the property. The owner of the lot, Gary Foster, applied to the Planning and Zoning Commission to modify the permit to allow him to build up to five rental cabins on the property.

The commission approved the amendment, but several of Foster's neighbors were not happy with the decision, so Ralph Van Dusseldorp, one of the neighbors, filed an appeal of the decision. The neighborhood is split about evenly between residences and businesses, like guide businesses and bed and breakfasts.

The appeal means the issue went to the council, which reviews the permit application, complaints and other available information and will make its own decision on the matter.

The council listened to testimonies from Jim Richardson, Peter Thompson and Van Dusseldorp opposing the amendment to the permit, and from Foster, his project engineer and attorney supporting it.

One main issue raised by the appellants concerned the lack of water and septic systems for the cabins. The commission informed Foster that in order to build the cabins, he would have to install water and septic systems for each cabin that were approved by the Department of Environmental Conservation or construct a DEC-approved bathhouse unit on the property. If the cabins were going to be for personal use, that would not be required, but since they would be rented out, Foster would need to have sanitary facilities in place. The appellants complained that no such system exists.

Appellants also discussed two trailers located on the property. They characterized the trailers as permanent mobile homes, which is not allowed.

Another complaint stems from the size of the lot. It is 1.5 acres, but long and narrow, so neighbors say there will not be enough of a buffer between the cabins and their properties to protect them from the increased activity that will come from the cabin rentals.

"Rental of the cabins would obviously be to fisherman," Van Dusseldorp stated in a protest letter to the council. "Fishermen in general are a early rising, noisy group and they would be in close proximity to the neighboring property owners. This would certainly not be compatible with the quiet residential nature of the area and would create disturbances to the residents."

Foster's side argued that they were in compliance with every stipulation required by the commission and the city's building code.

"One of the things I would like to point out is of all the people protesting this, not one person has come over to talk to me about this," Foster said.

Marilyn Kebschull, city planner, said the commission approved Foster's request because he met the requirements for the permit. Kebschull said he does not have to have DEC-approved water and septic systems in place to receive approval of his permit modification, he just has to provide documentation that the sanitary facilities will be built.

Before the cabins can be rented, Foster will have to have the DEC approve the systems and have the buildings approved by a fire inspector.

As for the trailers, Kebschull said the building inspector classified them as recreational vehicles that could be moved at any time, even though they are hooked up to water, septic and power systems, so they are allowed to be on the property.

The council has 30 days to reach its decision on the matter. Either Foster or the appellants can choose to take the matter to court if they do not accept the council's decision.

In other action Wednesday, the council:

n Listened to public comments from Richard King, an independent fisher operating from the city's dock facility. King expressed concerns about the wharfage charges and poundage charges the city imposes on dock users.

He suggested alternative ways to finance the dock's operations and offered to be involved in further discussions regarding the dock. He was directed to meet with the city's administration and the Harbor Commission to discuss his ideas.

n Listened to public comments from Tim Wisniewski, chair of the Parks and Recreation Commis-sion, regarding the unexpected moving of the city's skateboard park Friday from the multipurpose facility to its original location by the Kenai Recreation Center.

Mayor John Williams explained the park was moved because it was discovered it was placed at the multipurpose facility illegally to begin with. Outdoor activities, like the park, are not allowed under the current zoning restrictions for the facility. In order to legally place the park there, a conditional-use permit should have been applied for and received before moving the park. That was not done, because it was not realized that a conditional-use permit was required, Williams said.

In a June 26 meeting of the Planning and Zoning Commission, the commission turned down a resolution for a conditional-use permit adding outdoor recreational activities for the multipurpose facility property. Neighbors attending the meeting spoke against the permit, complaining about noise generated from the skateboard park.

The skateboard park currently is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week in the parking lot of the recreation center. The city does not plan to make that the final location for the park and is looking into other locations.

However, before it is moved again, the city wants to make sure it will be to a permanent location, Williams said. Around 10 skateboard park users and their parents attended the meeting, and three spoke to the council about the park's move and their hopes for the future of the park.

n Unanimously passed a resolution directing the continuation of the paving project of the Basin View Subdivision. Several members of the neighborhood attended the meeting and spoke to the council in favor of continuing the project.

n Unanimously passed a resolution transferring $15,200 from the Water and Sewer Fund Sewer Treatment Plan Contingency Account to Repair and Mainten-ance to buy a replacement aeration blower for the sewer treatment plant.



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