Comp plan meetings gathering feedback

Posted: Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kenai Peninsula residents will play an integral role in deciding how decisions on issues ranging from transportation to health care are made over the next decade.

Revisions currently are being made to the borough's comprehensive plan, a document meant to guide the borough's development with a set of recommendations, statistics and comments generated from both the public and government officials.

In order to gauge how the public feels on the issues, consultants for the borough have been holding public meetings, where members of the public are asked to take part in forming the plan.

"If you know people you think would be interested in this, encourage them to participate," Matt Hastie, a consultant with Cogan Owens Cogan, LLC, the Portland firm handling the plan revision for the borough, told a meeting last week at the Borough Building in Soldotna.

Hastie gave a short presentation on the plan, outlining the process and what the public can expect between now and May, when the final plan is expected to be complete.

The next few steps in the process, Hastie said, will be to gather public comments, further revise the plan, then bring it to the borough's planning department and finally, to the borough assembly for adoption.

"It is still a draft, for sure," Hastie said.

The current round of public meetings comes after a series of meetings held last fall. So far this year, consultants have met in Soldotna, Nikiski, Cooper Landing, Clam Gulch, Homer, Sterling and Kasilof. The next meeting is scheduled for today at 7 p.m. at the Anchor River Inn in Anchor Point.

Approximately 15 people showed up to the Soldotna meeting. Most said they were there because they wanted to have some say in how the plan is formulated.

"I came because I want to be able to do some developing on my property," said Beverly, a Nikiski woman who only would give her first name.

Beverly said she believes the borough needs to do more on the North Road to develop business and industry that isn't tied to oil and gas.

"Personally, I'm concerned there's not too many jobs that aren't to do with the oil fields," she said. "We need something out there that would be employment-building."

In addition to serving as a sort of "road map" to guide decisions made at the borough level, the plan also contains a wealth of statistics, charts and graphs on areas such as population, infrastructure, waterways, economics and housing.

Stephanie Sims of Soldotna said she's interested in much of the data included in the plan. She works for the Kenai Watershed Forum and is developing a statistical model that she hopes can be used in developing the comprehensive plan.

"It's a planning tool to be used to mitigate regional impacts of land use or natural disturbances," Sims said.

She said from what she's seen of the plan and the process, she believes the consultants are doing their job.

"I think they've done a good job of involving the public as much as possible," she said.

In addition to today's Anchor Point meeting, upcoming meetings are planned for Seldovia on Wednesday; Hope on Monday; Seward on Oct. 26; Moose Pass on Oct. 27; and Ninilchik on Oct. 28.

All of the meetings are open to the public. Copies of the draft plan are available at several locations, including the Borough Building, area libraries, city halls, schools, chambers of commerce.

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