For nearly a year and a half, the Kenai Peninsula Borough has been proposing, arguing about, taking testimony on, abandoning, reintroducing and substituting assorted amendments meant to modernize the way the borough handles gravel pit permitting.
At the heart of that effort is a desire to improve the environment and secure water supplies and property values for gravel pit neighbors, while also recognizing the need for an affordable gravel supply and the rights of pit owners to make a living without excessive government intervention.
Developing ordinance language that is fair to all has been a tall order. On Tuesday, the assembly will hold still another public hearing on the newest incarnation of the gravel pit ordinance, first introduced in March to replace an earlier version introduced in January. The assembly put aside the ordinance in May as it worked to complete the 2006-07 borough budget.
The ordinance would establish permit application and operational criteria for gravel pits, including requirements for buffer and reclamation plans, site plans verified by a state-licensed surveyor, maps of anticipated haul routes, the location of wells on adjacent properties, surface water protection measures, and the like.
It also would cover the handling of fuels, provide for dust control and restrict the times of operations to avoid noise in residential districts.
For instance, under the ordinance, operations could not be conducted between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m., and processing and conditioning equipment could not be operated between 7 p.m. and 6 a.m. Hauling would be permitted during the 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. slot, provided an operator did not use automatic audio backup warning signals those high-pitched beeps that can often be heard over long distances. Operators would be required to provide for alternative backup warning for the safety of employees.
The proposed ordinance also makes provisions for prior existing uses, and in some cases exempting those uses from the new provisions.
The ordinance also sets out conditions for permit revocation and renewal, and establishes a fine schedule for violations.
During much of 2005 and into early 2006, other gravel pit amendments were considered, but ultimately rejected by the assembly.
The measure is Ordinance 2006-01 (Martin substitute).
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