Limits on driveway width at issue in Soldotna

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Tuesday, November 18, 2014 11:03pm
  • News

Soldotna resident Jerry Farrington has been trying to add 6 feet to his driveway for more than two years.

Applications and appeals have bounced between the Kenai Peninsula Borough Board of Adjustment, Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission and city council in a series of public hearings and meetings concerning the width of Farrington’s personal parking space.

“They say ‘no’ and I say ‘yes,’” Farrington said. “I am persistent in that respect.”

Farrington said the continued request “is a matter of safety and convenience.” The slope of his property makes entering and exiting his driveway unsafe during the winter months. There is no sidewalk along West Riverview Avenue, and street parking is unsafe for pedestrians, he said.

“I understand the bureaucracy and paperwork, and that the city would want to know who has 24-foot driveways,” Farrington said. “The city staff should have the ability to grant a driveway over 24 feet without having to go to the planning and zoning or city council.”

City council member Linda Murphy proposed an ordinance (at the Nov. 12 city council meeting) that would increase the 24-foot limit to 30 feet wide. Both Murphy and Mayor Nels Anderson said they were disappointed with the planning and zoning’s decision to deny the variance.

Since Farrington submitted his first request in 2012, the commission had the option to recommend revisions to the city code twice, which would extend the 24-foot limit, but declined, according to Oct. 8 planning and zoning commission documents. The commission found the limit “was a widely accepted standard that serves a valid purposed and recommended no change,” according to the document.

The city council also voted down an amendment to the code in October 2013 that would have increased the width limit to 30 feet, according to the packet.

The commission continues to conclude that Farrington’s request does not meet all eight zoning standards required for a variation, he said. He said the standards are set by the state, and some do not apply in his case.

Commission member Colleen Denbrock said the commission’s purpose is to uphold city code, according to the Oct. 8 planning and zoning commission meeting packet. Changes need to be made by city council, because the commission does not have that authority.

Following the final appeal to the commission, Farrington said he called each one of the city council members to ask for support. Murphy followed up their conversation by proposing an amendment to city code, he said.

Farrington said he is interested in how his request would be met if the city were operating as a home-rule city.

Anderson said issues such as the driveway expansion are some of the reasons the city is looking to move from first class general-law to home-rule, at the Nov. 12 council meeting. He said the laws were too prohibitive for the council to make exemptions in unique cases such as Farrington’s.

State law and local ordinances define the powers, duties and functions of general-law cities, according to the Alaska Department of Commerce. First class cities may exercise powers not prohibited by law.

“We want to get rid of those (state laws) and let the city set those up rather than be functioning under those rules, which I find to be onerous and non-applicable in a personal manner,” Anderson said in a previous Clarion article.

Farrington said he will attempt to get his name on the Feb. 3 special election ballot as a charter commission candidate. Commissioners will be responsible for drafting the charter the city would adopt if voters approve the move to home-rule.

The public hearing for amending the Soldotna Municipal Code to increase the maximum driveway width allowed in a residential district to 30 feet will be at 6 p.m. on Jan. 14, 2015.

 

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com.

More in News

The Seward welcome sign is photographed in July 2021. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Seward vice mayor and council member resigns

The council accept the resignation of Tony Baclaan during its Monday night meeting.

Ben Mohr watches Kenai River Junior Classic participants head out to fish on the Kenai River in Soldotna, Alaska, on Wednesday, Aug. 11, 2021. (Camille Botello / Peninsula Clarion)
Mohr resigns as director of KRSA

He has been the executive director of KRSA for nearly three years.

Heather and Hunter Phillips walk through the Kenai Community Library Haunted Hunt with their mom Kumi Phillips on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Scary reads

Spooky literary characters come to life at Kenai library haunted house.

Alaska state Rep. Laddie Shaw, an Anchorage Republican, waits for the start of a so-called technical session on the House floor, Wednesday, Oct. 20, 2021, in Juneau, Alaska. The fourth special legislative session of the year began Oct. 4, in Juneau, but there has been little action at the Capitol and little progress toward resolving Alaska’s fiscal issues. (AP Photo/Becky Bohrer)
Special session plods on with little action

Many legislative offices have been dark and floor sessions in some cases have lasted seconds.

The Kenai Community Library health section is seen on Tuesday, Oct. 26, 2021. After the Kenai City Council postponed a vote to approve a grant funding health and wellness books, community members set up a GoFundMe to support the purchase of materials. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
After cries of censorship, community raises funds for library

The Kenai City Council voted during its Oct. 20 meeting to postpone acceptance of a $1,500 grant for materials related to health and wellness.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
11 new deaths reported

Statewide there were 244 COVID-related hospitalizations as of Tuesday, with 37 of them on ventilators.

Rep. Don Young talks during a June 2021 interview with the Empire. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire File)
Young to face off with a Begich yet again

Young, 88, seemed unfazed by Begich’s entry into the race.

A remote galaxy captured by the Hubble Space Telescope is greatly magnified and distorted by the effects of gravitationally warped space. (Image via NASA)
Grant brings NASA to library

The grant supports science, technology, engineering, arts and math programming for patrons.

Most Read