Kenai council lands on airport reserve plan

Posted: Friday, September 08, 2006

After nearly nine months of touch-and-goes, the Kenai City Council landed on a plan for managing the city’s airport and setting boundaries for an airport reserve Wednesday night.

Several council members offered minor last-minute amendments to an ordinance governing the administration and operation of the airport, which has been in the works since December 2005, and the council reached a compromise on proposed airport reserve boundaries.

At issue through most of this year has been the manner in which Kenai leases land to businesses operating within the reserve.

The compromise reserve boundary agreed upon Wednesday runs from the north end of the airport runway along Float Plane Road to just beyond the Kenai Spur Highway, then along Main Street Loop to Willow Street, down Granite Point Street to Trading Bay Road and then to Airport Way.

The boundary follows Baron Park Lane to a point past the Kenai Peninsula Youth Facility and turns to Marathon Road to a section line at the approximate south end of the airport’s gravel runway. It continues east along the section line to the original airport lands boundary established by the Federal Aviation Administration and then north beyond the north end of the runway.

As part of the boundary compromise reached Wednesday, a 17-acre parcel of land north of the youth facility was added to the reserve and a 26-acre, triangular-shaped parcel east of Marathon Road was omitted.

As recommended by the Airport Commission, city administration, the Kenai Economic Development Strategy (KEDS) and DOWL Engineers consulting firm, the reserve retains ownership of land around the airport for development and possible future expansion of the airport.

The ordinance passed Wednesday night also establishes rules for leasing property within the reserve and for leasing and selling airport land outside the airport reserve.

Speaking on behalf of KEDS, Rick Baldwin, chair, said, “We give the best advice we can, but not as advocates.

“Please don’t take our (recommended) boundaries as anything anyone is advocating,” he said.

He also said KEDS opposed a requirement asking potential lessees to disclose a business plan when applying for a lease of reserve land.

“You’re disclosing your business plan to your competitors,” he said.

The proposed ordinance outlined a five-point business plan to be disclosed by lease applicants.

Responding to questioning by council member Rick Ross, Baldwin said KEDS found the last three points to be “most egregious.”

The points asked applicants to disclose the number of customers they expect to serve, the applicant’s source of capital and the applicant’s estimate of gross receipts from the business.

Saying the information is proprietary and “the government doesn’t need that information,” Ross later made a motion to remove the three requirements.

The amendment passed unanimously.

Council member Mike Boyle, who has expressed continued opposition to selling airport land, preferring long-term leasing of the property, offered an alternate boundary map encompassing the city block with the Kenai Courthouse and a large tract of undeveloped land east of Marathon Road.

Boyle’s amendment failed.

The final, approved ordinance, which regulates the administration and operation of the Kenai Municipal Airport and governs leasing of airport lands, takes effect Oct. 6.

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