Sterling bridge issue raised

Assembly meeting also will cover new fire station, gravel pits

Posted: Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Residents will have the opportunity to speak about gravel pits, fire stations and a new bridge at tonight's Kenai Peninsula Borough assembly meeting.

There will be a public hearing on whether voters will have the chance to permit the Central Emergency Service Area to float a $2.5 million bond package to build, design and outfit a new fire station in Kasilof.

Last fall, voters in Kasilof, Cohoe and Clam Gulch and neighbors inside existing service areas voted to expand CES. Now, they are looking to build a new fire station in the area.

If passed, qualified voters will be able to vote on the matter in the October borough election.

The bond debt could cause a .15-mill increase in borough property taxes.

The assembly will hold a public hearing on whether there should be an item on the October borough election ballot on whether a bridge over the Kenai River connecting the communities of Funny River and Sterling should be built. The ballot item would ask if the state of Alaska should build the bridge and if the borough should contribute funds or services to the project. This is an advisory proposition, meaning it is nonbinding.

Gravel pit operators may soon have to show reasonable proof that their pits will not negatively impact neighbors' aquifers before the Kenai Peninsula Borough issues a permit.

A public hearing will give people the opportunity to speak their mind on this issue.

Right now, the borough code says that operators are not allowed to affect the quantity and quality of a neighbor's aquifers. However, the burden of proof is on the neighbor to show the operator has caused damage.

A new ordinance would require these operators to show reasonable proof that aquifers won't be damaged before the borough issues a permit for a person to operate a gravel pit.

The ordinance was sponsored by assembly member Dan Chay.

"(If) people know ahead of time, it might minimize the amount of disputes that we are having," Chay said in an interview.

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