Assembly should not back down on rules for subdivision roads

Posted: Friday, August 16, 2002

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly should uphold its vote on new road standards for borough subdivisions, adopted at its last meeting by a margin of just one vote.

The assembly is set to reconsider the ordinance at its Tuesday meeting.

The pro arguments on this ordinance far outweigh the con.

On the pro side, borough residents can either pay now or pay later for roads, but eventually they will have to pay. The longer they wait, the more they will pay.

Road service area board members have said upgrading a substandard road to borough standards can cost two to three times what it would have cost to build it to borough standards in the first place.

Those who currently live in subdivisions with substandard roads offer plenty of encouragement to pass the ordinance. These residents already pay a 1.5 mill road service area property tax, yet they receive no borough maintenance for that tax. Those residents end up paying twice -- once to the borough for a service not received and once to a private contractor, if they are unable to provide maintenance themselves. They pay again to have their road upgraded to borough standards. It just doesn't make sense.

While the ordinance will not, as Seward assembly member Ron Long said, "address the sins of the past," it will stave off some future problems by ending construction of roads not up to borough standards.

True, the ordinance may cost developers more to build initially, but it ultimately will reap them big returns in good will generated. Not to mention the money it will save the residents in those subdivisions on road maintenance costs and in trying to get a road brought up to standards later at a much higher cost.

There's also a good chance it will save the borough lots of time, energy and money now spent dealing with frustrated residents who live on roads that aren't eligible for borough maintnance.

While the added costs may mean some people are unable to afford the subdivision lots, a look around the borough shows there still will be plenty of property on roads not up to borough standards for sale.

Time and again, Kenai Peninsula residents have shown how important roads -- good roads -- are to them. So important, they are willing to pay for them. Developers should not worry about pricing some people out of the market; they may even find they have more customers.

Poorly maintained roads can pose a risk to public safety; well-maintained roads speak of a community's quality of life.

Like it or not, times are changing. The borough is maturing. That maturity should bring with it an insistence on minimum standards for infrastructure -- for public safety and qualify of life reasons.

Road standards for borough subdivisions make sense. The assembly should not delay the inevitable. Passage of this ordinance should be upheld.

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