At the May 12 Planning Commission meeting, held in Soldotna, numerous River Quest Subdivision re-plat (KPB2003-28) concerns were raised by the public and the crowd. After public testimony concluded, a commissioner asked the borough staff if the borough had ever approved a subdivision like this before that only had seasonal utilities water, sewer and electrical service available (May 1 to Sept. 30). The staff's response, after a rather long pause was, "No."
Also, when it was stated that one lot was separated by a body of water on that lot, a commissioner asked the staff how the lot owner would reach the back portion of that lot. The staff replied, "Well, perhaps by the use of a canoe, or, maybe just walk across." The latter feat has not been witnessed for more than 2,000 years.
After much public testimony gave reason after reason why this subdivision plat contained too many negatives, one commissioner in his comments stated he felt in his opinion that this subdivision was doomed to fail. He said it was unfortunate that this subidivision plat has gotten to this stage and cited the fact that the entire subdivision's location was under water during the 1995 Kenai River flood.
So why then are generous code variances and special condition approvals being given as exceptions to our borough codes and resolutions?
If this subdivision reaches final approval then not only should "buyer beware" be the buzz words, but also "river beware!" The developer has circulated recent letters that this is only Phase I of his plans at River Quest Campground. Next he is proposing an adjoining Phase II Subdivision which is to allow "boaters of that subdivision to also add to the boating density at Phase I boat moorage locations."
Many of those new boat moorage locations are now scheduled to be along never-before-used pristine riverbank habitat areas. All along the developer stated to the Kenai River Center and borough reviewing offices that he would be reducing the river boating density in his re-platting of this subdivision. His statements and proposals, however, actually appear to be the opposite. Why would borough planners then recommend to the Planning Commission this type of aggressive use of our valuable Kenai River?
It looks to me like the public is not being well served by the manner in which this subdivision is being hastily processed through the Borough Planning Department. There are adequate federal, state and borough development standards that should be met for subdivision platting. So why are they being worked around?
A minimum of 6,000 square feet for each subdivision lot is not adhered to;
An adequate road system to allow borough emergency vehicles access is marginally included;
Year-round utilities are not being made available to lot purchasers;
Covenants and easement documents are not available to see if they fit the subdivision layout and purpose; and
The subdivision location is in the flood zone and floodway of the Kenai River.
This proposed subdivision matter has been appealed to the borough assembly, acting as the board of adjustment. It is to be heard Sept. 17 in Soldotna. Mark your calendars, this is one topic to follow. It may set a new "sub standard" for subdivisions in the borough along the river.
Ed Beddow, Soldotna
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