Assembly to dig gravel pit issues

Posted: Tuesday, September 20, 2005

A long-awaited public hearing on an ordinance that could significantly revamp borough criteria for authorizing gravel pits or other material sites is on Tuesday's agenda as the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly meets in Homer.

The meeting is to begin at 7 p.m. in the Homer City Council chambers on Pioneer Avenue.

Ordinance 2005-13 (as entitled, a measure "to clarify conditions for material site permits") would require gravel pit operators to demonstrate prior to getting a borough permit that their planned pits would not do harm to surrounding aquifers. Currently, the burden is on surrounding property owners to show that an existing permitted pit has done harm.

The ordinance would also give the borough Planning Commission the authority to require, as a condition of the permit, that applicants acquire supporting data and the statement of a licensed hydrologist attesting to the safety of their pit plans. Under extenuating circumstances, the commission could grant an exemption, but require a bond.

The ordinance is expected to draw supporters and opponents to the scheduled public hearing.

In all, there are eight ordinances up for hearings Tuesday.

Expected to sail through easily is Ordinance 2005-19-21, which would accept and appropriate a $75,000 state grant that will help pay for a water tanker for the Kachemak Emergency Service Area.

The tanker would significantly improve KESA's firefighting capability and potentially could reduce homeowners' insurance premiums, according to KESA officials.

The service area, which serves areas outside the city of Homer but works under a mutual-aide contract with the city, has a fire engine capable of carrying 750 gallons of water. The new tanker will carry 2,000 gallons.

Also on the borough's agenda with regards to KESA is Resolution 2005-067, which would authorize Mayor Dale Bagley, on behalf of KESA, to enter a three-year agreement with the city of Homer to provide fire and emergency medical services.

The assembly will also address a spending package meant to enhance preparations for next year's Arctic Winter Games. New circumstances will require the assembly to consider a substitute to Ordinance 2005-19-25. That measure was to appropriate a state grant of $40,000 to access and improvements to the Tsalteshi Trail System where skiing events are to be held. Specifically, it was to cover costs of installing lighting along the trails.

According to Bonnie Golden, borough grants manager, only a small portion of the money would actually be needed by Homer Electric Association to provide lighting. Thus, Substitute Ordinance 2005-19-25 would expand the scope of work to include construction of two waxing facilities and a timing/course director building.

Any costs above the $40,000 would be borne by the Arctic Winter Games 2006 Host Society, Golden said.

Elsewhere on Tuesday's agenda is Resolution 2005-082, which would authorize award of a $188,090 contract for design services to MACTEC Engineering and Consulting Inc. to develop design criteria for capping and closing approximately seven acres at the Homer Landfill.

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