There is an ordinance in the wind regarding who gets to serve on the City of Kenai’s Planning and Zoning Commission. It’s hard for me to focus on these kinds of things when the daylight never ends and there is so much to do, but I have to take exception to this plan.
I believe the current proposal is that a non-resident be allowed to fill one of the seats. What will qualify them is owning a business in Kenai.
It may seem to some to be a “ho-hum” change. To me, a 41-year resident of the sixth largest city in Alaska, one of the 7,500 or so, it seems to suggest that there is no one else willing or qualified among the city residents.
We care about the people who own and operate businesses in Kenai, whether they live in the city or not. Our family tries very hard to shop locally and support them. Their opinions count and there are currently many avenues for them to express their concerns and opinions. I’m sure our council members, current and former, have always given them opportunity to provide input.
That being said, in my opinion, if they are not residents of the city, then that is where it should stop. It’s a little bit of a reverse of “taxation without representation” in that the individual would have decision-making power and then vote in another area. Would Soldotna residents be eligible? For those who keep a Soldotna/Kenai rivalry going beyond sports, that is scary! Would roundabouts creep into our town? Will applicants have to be contiguous to Kenai — or just the Peninsula or just Alaska? There are Anchorage small business owners related to fishing, etc.
I strongly believe residents should always trump non-residents in something as critical as Planning and Zoning. While it may seem strange and oddly un-Alaskan, the four letter “Z” word is one of the reasons we choose to live in the city. Owning is not residing. Are folks who rent lesser residents? I encourage the P & Z and City Council to continue having city residents making these recommendations.