Kenai Peninsula Borough River Center Manager Samantha Lopez presents information at a meeting discussing the potential boundaries of a Nikiski Advisory Planning Commission at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Kenai Peninsula Borough River Center Manager Samantha Lopez presents information at a meeting discussing the potential boundaries of a Nikiski Advisory Planning Commission at the Nikiski Community Recreation Center on Tuesday, July 19, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly considers making Nikiski planning group area smaller

Organizers pushed for the boundaries of Nikiski’s advisory planning commission to match other Nikiski area designations

Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly members will decide whether or not to make the footprint of the newly formed Nikiski Advisory Planning Commission smaller. The body gave initial approval Tuesday to legislation that would exclude from the boundaries of the Nikiski Planning Commission communities on the west side of Cook Inlet.

Per the boundaries approved by assembly members in September, the Nikiski Advisory Planning Commission area includes the communities of Nikiski, Gray Cliff, Moose Point, Beluga, Tyonek and Kustatan — spread out across about 3.5 million acres. It’s by far the borough’s largest advisory planning commission area; the second largest is the Kachemak Bay commission at just over 260,000 acres.

Advisory planning commissions offer comments on things that the borough planning commission will vote on. That could include platting, permitted and certain legislative issues. There are six other active advisory planning commissions in the borough: one each in Anchor Point, Cooper Landing, Funny River, Hope/Sunrise, Moose Pass and Kachemak Bay.

Organizers pushed for the boundaries of Nikiski’s advisory planning commission to match other Nikiski area designations, such as the boundaries for Nikiski’s assembly and board of education seats, as well as for the Nikiski Fire Service Area Board and the Nikiski Senior Service Area Board. All of those demarcations include the communities of Tyonek and Beluga as well as Nikiski.

The proposed ordinance, however, says that everyone who has applied to serve on the commission since it was established live within the proposed smaller boundaries.

Assembly President Brent Johnson and assembly member Cindy Exclund, who are sponsoring the legislation along with Mike Tupper, wrote in a Dec. 1 memo to assembly members that residents of Tyonek do not wish to be included in Nikiski’s advisory planning commission.

“The Tyonek Native Corporation and the Village of Tyonek object to inclusion within the boundaries,” Johnson and Ecklund wrote in the memo. “No applicant residing outside of the new boundaries proposed in this ordinance have applied to be on the Nikiski APC.”

Assembly members will decide at their Feb. 7, 2023, meeting whether or not to make the coverage area of the commission smaller. Assembly meetings can be streamed on the borough’s website at kpb.legistar.com.

Reach reporter Ashlyn O’Hara at ashlyn.ohara@peninsulaclarion.com.

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