The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly passed their 2019 Comprehensive Plan at their Tuesday meeting.
The plan — required by statute —is prepared by the borough’s planning commission and submitted to the assembly as a proposal for the “systematic and organized development of the borough.” It includes several long-term goals for the borough that cover many facets of borough development, including the local economy, maintaining and sustaining natural resources and growing community connections.
“A comprehensive plan is a policy document created by a community, with a combination of big vision goals and practical short-term strategies,” the 2019 Comprehensive Plan says.
The plan lists a handful of core values, like economic opportunity, freedom with few restraints, rural small-town lifestyles, abundant natural resources, beautiful scenery and wildlife and strong community connections.
The plan portrays a vision of the Kenai Peninsula, outlining goals for the future, including expanding and diversifying economic opportunities, supporting local food and agriculture industries, balancing economic benefits of tourism with residents’ quality of life, protecting important natural resources, promoting fiscally responsible government and maintaining infrastructure and services. The plan also has an extensive section dealing with climate change, including ways the borough can introduce policies to mitigate its effects.
The rest of the plan goes into detail on making those goals achievable.
Many residents who offered public testimony on the ordinance Tuesday spoke in support of the plan’s inclusion of climate change mitigation policies and a borough commission on sustainability.
Peggy Mullen, a resident in the area for over 70 years, thanked the assembly and borough administration for thinking about climate change.
“I appreciate your efforts and I hope we are able to set up some goals and some benchmarks as far as what we can respond to for climate change,” Mullen told the assembly. “I thank you for our grandchildren. It’s not fair to take from this Cinderella period on our planet and not think about our children.”
Shelly Wade, from Agnew Beck Consulting — the consulting firm who was hired by the borough to help facilitate the plan’s update — gave a short presentation to the assembly at Tuesday’s meeting.
“It is a long-term document, but it has near-term strategies,” Wade said. “This is a residents’ plan. This is your plan.”
The work on the 2019 Comprehensive Plan began back in 2017, when the borough contracted Agnew Beck to help gather input for the plan. Between 2017 and 2019, more than 2,000 residents of the borough shared their ideas with the project team.
The last comprehensive plan approved by the borough was approved in 2005, according to the ordinance that adopted the 2019 plan.
“The social, economic and environmental conditions of the Kenai Peninsula Borough have changed over the past fourteen years,” the ordinance said.
The proposed plan was introduced in a public hearing held by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission in August. The commission recommended the plan at its Sept. 23 meeting. The Comprehensive Plan will be reviewed periodically and updated to reflect changing conditions, trends, laws and policies of the borough.
The borough adopted the plan, but the plan remains a living document and the assembly can hold work sessions to amend the plan’s details over time.
“It’s a blueprint,” borough planning director Max Best said at Tuesday’s meeting. “It’s not etched in stone.”