Assembly members participate during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly members participate during a meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly on Tuesday, June 21, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Assembly to revisit gravel pit legislation

A proposed ordinance would overhaul borough code addressing material site permits

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will hold two public hearings next month on legislation that would overhaul the section of borough code that addresses material site permits, such as those for gravel pits.

If approved, the ordinance would completely repeal and reenact Chapter 21.29 of borough code and would establish a multi-permit structure for conditional land use permits. Public hearings will be held during the assembly’s Sept. 6 and Sept. 20 meetings.

Under the multi-permit structure, activities within the water table, for example, will require “heightened protections.” The proposed legislation keeps existing conditions that are needed to protect the health and safety of borough residents, while allowing the permitting system to be more flexible with the “needs” of a particular application, assembly President Brent Johnson and assembly member Lane Chesley wrote.

“The availability of three different types of conditional land use permits for material sites are designed to separate impacts of such uses and tailor applicable conditions and requirements to the associated impacts,” the proposed ordinance says.

The legislation comes more than six months after assembly members voted to table similar legislation; the body opted instead to form a subcommittee through which members “review(ed) the permitting process with a fresh perspective,” Johnson and Chesley wrote.

Assembly member Richard Derkevorkian unsuccessfully moved during the assembly’s Aug. 9 meeting not to introduce the legislation, citing the work the body had already done on the tabled legislation.

“We worked on the document for months,” Derkevorkian said. “I don’t understand why we’re just gonna throw it in the dumpster and introduce a new one that none of us have input on.”

Chesley pushed back on Derkevorkian’s assertion that he alone created the proposed ordinance, describing the work as a “team effort” through which he consulted with the borough’s legal and clerk departments. Chesley also chaired the assembly subcommittee created to review that section of borough code, which met twice in April.

“Yes, this is a new document … and I know that’s the part that feels strange to us, but I think it’s our best way forward to work on this to try to have a better outcome than we had the last time where nobody wanted what the end product was,” Chesley said.

Assembly member Cindy Ecklund said she was surprised to see the ordinance on the assembly’s Aug. 9 agenda, but that she is “happy to be moving forward” on material site conditional land use permits.

“I am not in agreement with everything in this document, but we need to move forward,” Ecklund said. “We need to start somewhere.”

Assembly members voted 7-2 in favor of introducing the ordinance, with assembly members Derkevorkian and Bill Elam voting in opposition. The full ordinance up for consideration by the assembly can be found on the borough’s legislation website at kpb.legistar.com.

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

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