Kenai slash pile ordinance turned down -- for now

City in violation of proposed changes

Posted: Monday, August 26, 2002

Kenai City Council members decided to practice what they preach by not requiring city residents to comply with an ordinance the city itself may not be prepared to comply with.

At its Wednesday meeting, the council considered an ordinance that, if passed, would prohibit the storage of slash on property within the city for more than 60 days. This means any city resident with a pile of cut-down beetle-killed trees or other slash on their property would need to remove it within 60 days or face being cited by the city. The ordinance was proposed for aesthetic reasons and because slash poses a fire risk.

"Kenai is a first-class city and we don't need to see (slash piles left on property) anymore," said council member Pat Porter.

Council member Jim Bookey was the first to voice disapproval of the proposed ordinance.

"I don't support this," he said. "Partly because if we are going to enforce our constituency to do something like this, we're going to have to do this as well."

Bookey posed some circumstances where the city may not be able to comply with the ordinance if it were passed, like if a utility company were removing trees for a project that took longer than 60 days to complete and clean up.

Council member Linda Swarner was concerned about the slash stored at the old city dump. According to Fire Chief Scott Walden, the slash is supposed to be incinerated by the borough, but that may not happen within 60 days.

"If we can't comply with it as a city, I don't think we should ask people to comply with it," Swarner said.

Mayor John Williams said he wasn't sure he would be able to comply with the 60-day limit on his own personal properties, so he wasn't prepared to support the ordinance, "since I am one of my constituents I represent," he said.

Council member Duane Bannock proposed the council table the ordinance and remand it back to the administration for revision, which council members agreed to do. Some form of the ordinance will be reintroduced to the council at its next meeting.

In other action Wednesday, the council:

Held a board of adjustment hearing for an appeal of a Planning and Zoning Commission decision. The commission denied an application for a 5-foot setback variance and lot coverage variance submitted by F. DeWayne Craig at 406 S. Forest Drive. Craig wanted the variance so he could construct a second-floor living space over an existing garage on his property. Craig and the board members discussed several areas of concern regarding the variance, including providing the required number of parking spaces on his property, the distance his driveway should be from the roadway, snow removal and storage, Dumpster location and construction done on his property in the past that had raised Planning and Zoning noncompliance issues.

"I thought I'd done everything OK," Craig said of his construction projects.

Nelson Amen, a neighbor, spoke against the board approving the variance. Craig owns a corner lot at the intersection of Toyon Way and South Forest Drive. That corner already is difficult to negotiate in the winter, and more activity on that corner, where Craig wants to do the construction, would exacerbate the problem, Amen said.

"I'm not going to stop somebody from using his property," he said. "... (But my wife's and my) feeling is the use of that land is way up there. It became one of those things with me where enough is enough."

Held a board of adjustment hearing for an appeal of a Planning and Zoning Commission decision which approved an encroachment permit for side setbacks for a piece of property at 506 Japonski Drive, owned by Paul and Teresa Quade. The owner of the neighboring lot of land, Ona Wilbert, appealed the application's approval, saying she believes the owner of the property has not complied with Planning and Zoning and city regulations in the past.

"I don't want to give this man an encroachment this easily," she said. "I think he breaks the rules."

The Quades were not at the hearing.

Passed an ordinance amending the definition of "Mobile Food Vending Unit" in the municipal code to exempt vendors that operate less than 15 days per year from getting a mobile food vendors permit. The original ordinance facing the council stated 30 days but was amended to 15 days after a 6-1 vote, with Bannock dissenting. The intent of the ordinance, Bookey said, was so nonprofit groups that sell food once in a while for fund-raisers shouldn't have to get a permit. But the 30-day limit could include a commercial vendor operating for a month. After reducing the days to 15, the council voted unanimously to pass the ordinance.

Unanimously approved a resolution choosing Wince-Corthell-Bryson to perform capital improvement projects at Kenai Municipal Airport.

Unanimously approved a resolution awarding a $105,121.65 contract to Alaska Roadbuilders Inc. to pave Chinook Drive and Sockeye Circle in the Pillars Subdivision.

In a report on the Harbor Commission's last meeting, Bookey, the commission's council representative, said the commission would come up with a list of specific suggestions regarding how the city should operate the dock facility, which Bookey would bring to the next council meeting.

Also, in a report on the Planning and Zoning Commission's last meeting, Bannock, the commission's council representative, said the commission was working on drafting the city's comprehensive plan.



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