Assembly votes down, will reconsider Planning Commission changes

In its annual visit to Homer, the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly stalled on a revision of the borough’s Planning Commission opposed by both the Homer City Council and the Homer Advisory Planning Commission.

In a 4-4 vote, the assembly tied — and thus defeated — Ordinance 16-25, an ordinance that would reduce the size of the borough planning commission from a maximum of 13 to a maximum of 11.

District 5 assembly member Stan Welles of Sterling, who would have cast a deciding vote, was absent. In assembly comments at the end of the meeting, District 1 assembly member Gary Knopp of Kalifornsky Beach Road, who voted for the ordinance, asked for reconsideration.

Borough Mayor Mike Navarre introduced Substitute Ordinance 16-25 in response to a technical violation of state law. Alaska statute requires the number of home-rule and first class cities reflects the proportion of borough population living in home-rule and first class cities. Currently, the five cities of Kenai, Soldotna, Seward, Homer and Seldovia have designated members on the planning commission. The other eight members are appointed from the East Peninsula, Southwest Borough, Anchor Point/Ninilchik, Kasilof/Clam Gulch, Kalifornsky Beach, Ridgeway, Sterling and Northwest Borough areas. That gives the commission 13 total members.

The proposed ordinance would reduce the commission to 11 members. Four would be from the cities and seven from new areas. The requirement that each city would have a member would go away. With Seldovia being the smallest city, the presumption is that it would lose a seat. The Anchor Point/Ninilchik and Clam Gulch/Kasilof areas would be combined into one district. The change wouldn’t take effect until 2020, after the next census.

The reduced commission would save the borough about $30,000 a year — an amount District 7 assembly member Brent Johnson, Clam Gulch, said could help pay for a proposed $300,000 review of the borough comprehensive plan.

Johnson, who sponsored the original ordinance which Navarre’s substitute replaced, said not specifying a member come from a specific city would allow someone from a small town like Seldovia to serve. He supported the mayor’s substitute ordinance.

“Seldovia could come forward with an exceptional individual,” he said. “Shouldn’t that person have a chance on the planning commission?”

District 3 assembly member Wayne Ogle, Nikiski, said he agreed with Johnson.

“The plan has evolved nicely in a direction that is going to be complying with state law,” he said. “I think it’s well done.”

Homer’s two assembly members spoke against the ordinance. Assembly member Kelly Cooper said she heard opposition from planning commissioners on Ordinance 16-25. While the assembly deals with laws and regulations, the commissioners deal with more local issues like plats and subdivision agreements.

“They’re doing things that are in your home and neighborhood,” she said.

Cooper suggested the assembly try to get state law changed to allow the current format to continue. Navarre said the enactment date of 2020 allows for time to make that change if the assembly wants to go in that direction.Homer’s other assembly member, Willy Dunne, who also represents Anchor Point, Seldovia and Kachemak Bay communities, spoke against the ordinance.

“I’m struggling with this,” he said. “I’ve heard from the people of Seldovia. I know it’s a tiny city. When you talk about proportional representation, they may or may not have a chance under the proposed ordinance. I think that small town perspective is important.”

Navarre acknowledged the opposition to his ordinance.

“Most of the pushback came from the city representatives,” he said. “They view themselves as the representatives of specific cities because that’s how they’re identified in the code.”

Navarre also noted the cities all have their own planning commissions and deal with zoning issues in their areas. In the final vote, the assembly tied. Voting no were District 4 member Dale Bagley of Soldotna, District 6 member Brandii Holmdahl of Seward, Cooper and Dunne.

Voting yes were Johnson, Ogle, Knopp, and District 2 and Assembly President Blaine Gilman, Kenai.

During his general comments at the end of the meeting, Knopp asked for reconsideration of the ordinance at the assembly’s next meeting. The next meeting is scheduled for Oct. 11 at the assembly chambers in Soldotna.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at michael.armstrong@homernews.com.

More in News

Vehicles are unleaded at the Seward Harbor after being moved from Lowell Point on Sunday, May 22, 2022 in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Lowell Point barge services move 110-plus cars to Seward

The services were covered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and ended Monday

Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Watershed Forum receives matching grant from Conoco

The Kenai Watershed Forum was given a grant from ConocoPhillips to fund… Continue reading

A beach on the eastern side of Cook Inlet is photographed at Clam Gulch, Alaska, in June 2019. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is implementing new shellfish regulations in Cook Inlet. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Fish and Game closes East Cook Inlet razor clam fisheries

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the Cook Inlet… Continue reading

Anastasia Scollon (left) and Willow King (right) stand in The Goods + Sustainable Grocery and Where it’s At mindful food and drink on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sustainable shopping finds new home in Soldotna

The Collective used to operate out of Cook Inletkeeper’s Community Action Studio

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Peter Segall / Juneau Empire
Gov. Mike Dunleavy speaks with reporters Thursday about the state’s budget at the Alaska State Capitol. Dunleavy said lawmakers had sent a complete budget, and that there was no need for a special session.
Dunleavy: No need for special session

Governor calls budget “complete”

A magnet promoting the Alaska Reads Act released sits atop a stack of Alaskan-authored and Alaska-centric books. Lawmakers passed the Alaska Reads Act on the last day of the legislative session, but several members of the House of Representatives were upset with the bill, and the way it was passed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
In last-minute move, Legislature passes early reading overhaul

Rural lawmakers push back on Alaska Reads Act

Graduates wait to receive diplomas during Connections Homeschool’s commencement ceremony on Thursday, May 19, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Connections honors more than 100 graduates

The home-school program held a ceremony Thursday in Soldotna

Most Read