Two weeks after residents of Poppy Woods Subdivision and local developer Clint Hall appeared at cross-purposes before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Plat Commit-tee, a compromise may be just around the corner.
"We feel like we've been able to work with Clint Hall enough that maybe we've come up with something we can live with," said Poppy Woods resident Brian Springer.
Hall was equally optimistic.
"I think what we're wanting to do is more in favor of what the community members that met with us want," Hall said. "They met here and seemed comfortable with a couple of changes that we were willing to make."
Hall is seeking borough approval to develop Zephyr Fields Estates, a 115-acre subdivision between Merrywood Avenue and Jones (Stub) Road, off Gaswell. A preliminary plat included three access streets connecting to Jones (Stub), a gravel road maintained by the Alaska Department of Transportation. The plat also tied into Poppy Woods and Silverweed streets, two access routes that currently connect Poppy Woods Subdivision with the paved surface of West Poppy Lane.
Residents worried that extending Poppy Woods and Silverweed would direct traffic from Zephyr Fields Estates away from Jones (Stub) Road, bringing potentially hundreds of vehicles through their quiet neighborhood and adding an unbearable burden on already poor gravel streets.
"In addition to road deterioration and diminished safety, we will also lose the valued sense of community that we now enjoy with our neighbors," wrote Springer in a letter directed to the borough.
At an Aug. 13 meeting, the plat committee postponed making a decision until its next meeting, scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Monday. Committee member Dick Troeger said the committee hoped the delay would allow interested parties to work together toward a "little better design."
Hall said during the past two weeks he has met with homeowners, representatives of the borough administration and Pete Sprague, who represents the Soldotna area on the borough assembly. The result of those meetings is a plat revision that creates cul-de-sacs extending from the end of Poppy Woods and Silverweed into Zephyr Fields Estates, rather than turning them into through streets. Hall said he suspects the plat committee will accept the revision.
Potential traffic from a local gravel pit also concerned Poppy Woods residents.
"We didn't want the gravel pit to be accessible to our neighborhood," Springer said. "The proposal Hall gave us stopped that access."
Springer said the revised plat is "not what the property owners would prefer, but the way the code is written and the letters we've received from the borough indicate that (Hall) can pretty much get his plat passed without making any concessions to us."
Unknown to Springer was the exact number of homes in the cul-de-sacs and how that will impact Poppy Woods.
"If it's a low enough number, we would agree to it and would encourage the borough to pass it," he said. "It it's too large a number, we will encourage Hall to move the cul-de-sac up a little ways."
Steve DeVito, another Poppy Woods resident, also was optimistic that a workable solution would be reached.
"But I think we're going to have to wait and see what Mr. Hall has to present to us," DeVito said. "He definitely has acknowledged the fact that we do have some concerns. He's made an attempt. I don't know that it'll be enough to satisfy all the neighbors, but it's a step in the right direction."
Beyond the immediate situation, broader concerns have been raised.
"The thing that we, as property owners or borough residents, still feel is lacking is that most of the decision-making is left between the builder or developer and the borough," Springer said. "The actual residents of surrounding areas have very little influence in the process."
Kelly Keating would like to see the borough focus on neighborhoods.
"Quality of life has got to be the main focus," Keating said. "This is a great opportunity for the borough to say they care about our neighborhoods. We have a very pro-development leadership with the borough right now and I think this is a good showcase for them to say we want development, but we want it done sensibly."
Dan Musgrove, who is currently traveling with his family out of state, has maintained contact with his neighbors long distance.
"The neighborhood should be happy and see that the borough and Clint Hall gave and we gave and everybody wins a little bit," he said from Seattle on Friday. "With this plan, the streets don't become thoroughfares. They become busier and the roads are in poor shape, but we can address the road conditions at a later time."
Road conditions have already drawn attention. According to Sprague, he and Borough Mayor Dale Bagley are sponsoring a resolution to ask the state to improve and pave Jones (Stub) Road, which would result in paved access to Gaswell Road for residents of Zephyr Fields Estates.
"That'll be in the next assembly packet," Sprague said.
Sprague said the cooperative search for a workable solution during the past two weeks has been impressive.
"Everybody's really been willing to work to see if there was a good way to solve this one," he said. "I'm very hopeful that we'll be able to work this out."
Hope was what DeVito was feeling, too.
"We're hoping that we can go to the plat meeting Monday and that what's presented is reasonable for our neighborhood and that we can call the dogs off and Hall can continue with development," he said. "And we can all be happy here."
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