Pete Kineen, a neighbor of the proposed Beachcomber LLC gravel pit, stands on his deck and points to where the pit could be, on May 2, 2019, in Anchor Point, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

Pete Kineen, a neighbor of the proposed Beachcomber LLC gravel pit, stands on his deck and points to where the pit could be, on May 2, 2019, in Anchor Point, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)

KPB Assembly to consider gravel-pit ordinance revisions

Proposed gravel pit ordinance follows Superior Court ruling that planning commission can deny permits.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly at its meeting next Tuesday, Jan. 18, will again consider an ordinance that would change standards for sand, gravel and material sites. Asked to be on the agenda by borough Mayor Charlie Pierce, Ordinance 2021-41 comes back on the table after the assembly in January 2020 voted down an earlier amended and substitute version. Ordinance 2021-41 is that substitute version.

The ordinance also follows a decision by the Alaska Supreme Court on Dec. 29 that upheld a Kenai Superior Court decision ruling that the Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission has the authority to deny gravel pit permit applications.

After the Supreme Court denied a petition for review by the gravel pit owner, Emmit Trimble of Beachcomber LLC, the superior court decision stood. The decision by Superior Court Judge Jason Gist remanded to the planning commission the application to consider if Trimble’s conditional land use permit, or CLUP, meets the standards of borough code. If the commission determines no condition in borough code can minimize visual and noise impacts as set in borough standards, it may deny the CLUP, Gist wrote.

At its meeting Monday night, the planning commission set a hearing date of Jan. 25 to consider Trimble’s CLUP under the guidelines of Gist’s ruling. It meets at 7:30 p.m. in the Betty J. Glick Assembly Chambers in Soldotna.

The Beachcomber gravel pit on Danver Road near the Anchor Point beach has been an ongoing controversy in the residential and recreational neighborhood. The proposed site is near the beach and downhill from homes on a ridge above it. Neighbors argued that because they would look down on the gravel pit, a berm wouldn’t be tall enough to obscure the view or noise.

The commission denied the CLUP in June 2018, saying that noise and visual disturbance could not be sufficiently reduced with any buffer or berm that could be added. Trimble appealed the denial, and in December 2018, Hearing Officer Holly Wells remanded the CLUP to the commission, and the commission determined the permit could meet standards.

A group of nearby homeowners, Hans Bilben and others, appealed the commission’s granting of the permit. Another hearing officer upheld the permit, and Bilben et al. appealed to the superior court. Gist’s decision granted their appeal, with the remand. Trimble asserted that the commission was required to approve his CLUP if it’s consistent with the unzoned rural area at issue, and said that borough code favored material site operators. Gist ruled that the commission could deny a permit if it found standards as set in borough code “cannot be sufficiently satisfied.”

Bilben said Ordinance 2021-41 would loosen the standards in borough code regarding material site operators. The new version would only require material site operators to meet specific conditions and not standards, he said in a phone interview.

For example, in a section on standards, it deletes the word “minimize” in regards to standards like noise disturbance and changes it to “protects.” A section on buffer zones is deleted and replaced with a new section. The old section says that buffer zones “shall be of sufficient height and density to provide visual and noise screening of the proposed use as deemed appropriate by the planning commission or planning director” — that is, a standard. The new section says that the buffer zone may include “undisturbed natural vegetation, a minimum six-foot fence, a minimum six-foot berm or a combination thereof.”

For information on the assembly and planning commission meetings, visit the calendar at https://kpb.legistar.com/Calendar.aspx, with links to Zoom meeting details and the agenda. The assembly meetings at 6 p.m. next Tuesday in the Betty J. Gick Assembly Chambers in Soldotna.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

A diagram presented by Teresa Jacobson Gregory illustrates the proposed extension of the Beachcomber LLC gravel pit and the impact it may have on the surrounding state recreation area. The red markers indicate the current gravel mining area, and the orange represents the area the extension may allow for mining if approved. (Image courtesy of Teresa Jacobson Gregory)

A diagram presented by Teresa Jacobson Gregory illustrates the proposed extension of the Beachcomber LLC gravel pit and the impact it may have on the surrounding state recreation area. The red markers indicate the current gravel mining area, and the orange represents the area the extension may allow for mining if approved. (Image courtesy of Teresa Jacobson Gregory)

More in News

Data from the state of Alaska show a steep increase in COVID-19 cases in January 2022. (Department of Health and Social Services)
Omicron drives COVID spike in Alaska as officials point to decreasing cases in eastern US

On Friday, the seven-day average number of daily cases skyrocketed to 2,234.6 per 100,000 people

Dana Zigmund/Juneau Empire
Dan Blanchard, CEO of UnCruise Adventures, stands in front of a ship on May 14, 2021.
Smooth sailing for the 2022 season?

Cautious optimism reigns, but operators say it’s too early to tell.

Former Alaska Assistant Attorney General Elizabeth Bakalar speaks a news conference on Jan. 10, 2019, in Anchorage, Alaska, after she sued the state. A federal judge on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022, ruled that Bakalar was wrongfully terminated by the then-new administration of Alaska Gov. Mike Dunleavy for violating her freedom of speech rights. (AP File Photo/Mark Thiessen, File)
Judge sides with attorney who alleged wrongful firing

Alaska judge says the firing violated free speech and associational rights under the U.S. and state constitutions.

Kenai Mayor Brian Gabriel (left) swears in student representative Silas Thibodeau at the Kenai City Council meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai junior sworn in as council student rep

Thibodeau says he wants to focus on inclusivity and kindness during his term

Branden Bornemann, executive director of the Kenai Watershed Forum, celebrates the 25th anniversary of the forum on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A voice for this river’

Forum reflects on 25 years protecting peninsula watershed

The University of Alaska Fairbanks Alaska Earthquake Center provides information on a 5.1 magnitude earthquake that struck at approximately 8:18 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022. The quake struck approximately 17 miles southeast of Redoubt volcano or 41 miles southwest of Kenai, Alaska, at a depth of 72.8 miles. (Screenshot)
Quake near Redoubt shakes peninsula

The quake was centered 41 miles southwest of Kenai.

Most Read