Following a site visit to an area of the Kenai bluff severely damaged by a developer, the Kenai City Council on Wednesday instructed the city administration to prepare a formal plan of action to assess the cost of the damage and its repair.
City officials, including Mayor Pat Porter, visited the site approximately 2 1/2 miles north of the Kenai River to get a first-hand look at the damage reported two weeks ago by former council member Jim Butler.
When asked if any of the visitors voiced opinions during the site visit, Butler said, “Most said, ‘Wow, this is a big dig.’”
“I went out there today and it’s huge,” Porter said.
In a letter to the city, Butler said developer Brian Lowe, who is developing property atop the bluff near Cook Inlet View Drive, cut an access road through the bluff, leading down to the city beach.
Lowe also deposited “substantial amounts of soil debris” onto the beach from above, according to Butler’s complaint.
Following Butler’s original notification, interim City Manager Chuck Kopp contacted Lowe and ordered him to stop work and hydro seed the entire area.
Kopp told the city council Lowe thought the preexisting trail to the beach was on his property, but it is not. It is city property.
Lowe reportedly cut a huge swath of earth through the bluff, creating a wide, V-shaped trench to the beach.
Butler furnished aerial photos of the damage to the council and said in the cases of oil pollution with which he is familiar, all costs of cleanup and restoration are covered by the party responsible for the damage.
“City residents should not have to pay, and other city projects should not be affected by this remediation,” he said.
Council member Rick Ross asked what would be involved in getting a damage assessment.
Kopp said he could contact the local Army Corps of Engineers office, and Ross said he “would like to see a formal plan come back to us and Mr. Lowe should be put on notice as to what we’re doing.”
Ross said he would like to see the plan by the second council meeting in February, so restoration work could begin in the spring.
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