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Rezone expected to draw protest

Posted: Wednesday, December 03, 2008

A requested change of zoning for a parcel of land across from Kenai Central High School is anticipated to be about as welcome as a trip to the dentist.

In fact, owners of the property would like to have it rezoned from Rural Residential to Limited Commercial to accommodate the construction of a dentist's office on the land, which fronts on the Kenai Spur Highway.

Kenai City Council members are expected to consider the proposed rezone at tonight's council meeting.

Although a number of Kenai area real estate sales people sent copies of a letter in support of the zoning change to city administrators, the city also has heard from two neighboring residents saying several longtime residents fought long and hard to keep their neighborhood residential.

They said they were upset "a couple years ago" when the property owners cleared nearly all the trees from the land and posted a sign saying a church was to be built there. They were somewhat comforted in knowing if a church went in, a strip mall would not, they said.

City Manager Rick Koch, who said on Tuesday he is expecting "a fire storm" over the proposed ordinance, said the city council likely will want to take a more comprehensive look at the zoning of the entire core area along the Kenai Spur.

The city is recommending approval of the rezoning.

The council also is slated to consider awarding a $462,551 contract to Blazy Construction Inc. to replace the Kenai Visitors and Cultural Center heating system. The company's bid was the only one received, Koch said.

The replacement is necessary because plastic tubing in the in-floor radiant heating system failed. The city is in line to receive $380,000 in a class action settlement against manufacturers of the tubing, but even so, sticking with in-floor radiant heat is cost prohibitive, according to Koch.

The work is to be done this winter so the visitors center operations will not be hampered during the busy summer months.

Also on the council's agenda tonight is a resolution approving a financial disclosure statement form for Kenai municipal officers and candidates for municipal office.

In October, Kenai voters approved exempting city leaders from new, stricter state of Alaska Public Offices Commission financial disclosure reporting requirements, including specific dollar amounts the municipal officers' spouses earned or had invested. The state disclosures are posted online.

The Kenai resolution more closely parallels former APOC reporting rules and makes the reports available through the city clerk's office in Kenai City Hall, not online.

Two public presentations listed on the council's meeting agenda include an update from Frontier Community Services on its plan to build a new headquarters office facility in Kenai and a report from the Friends of the Kenai Library on the library expansion project.

Koch said he believes Frontier is "going to tell us where they're at on their search for funding and give us a construction timetable."

Prior to the council meeting, council members are to meet in a work session on the library expansion.

According to Koch, the project architect, ECI-Hyer, out of Anchorage, will have a couple interior layout design plans, as well as the exterior design plan.

"This will be the council's first opportunity to meet with the architect on the project," Koch said.

The council meeting is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m., following the 5:30 work session on the library expansion.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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