Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 6:49 PM on Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Proposed zoning changes called 'assault on tradition'




What does it mean? Who does it impact? Those were the questions arising from Ordinance 11-03 at the Monday meeting of Homer City Council. Lack of answers and a desire for more public input was enough to cause a last-minute reconsideration and give residents an opportunity to let their voices be heard.

Originating from the city's Planning Department, the ordinance sought to amend the zoning code's definitions of "vehicle" and "motor vehicle," it detailed permitted uses of land and acceptable structures, and it inserted a one-year termination for the use of structures not conforming to code. The ordinance focused specifically on areas within the city zoned as rural residential, urban residential and residential office.

"This looks like another attempt to keep Alaskans from living in the city of Homer," said Mike Kennedy, who lives in a rural residential area, during Monday's public hearing. "It's an assault on actually the tradition of Homer in a lot of ways. A lot of code here is being changed. It takes a long time to understand it."

Kennedy took exception to the 1,500-square-foot limit for a structure used as an accessory to a residence and used for the purpose of storing commercial fishing gear, no more than five motor vehicles or noncommercial equipment.

"Throw a commercial fisherman out there, he might want to take notice ... of your restricting his ability to store commercial fishing gear on his own property," said Kennedy.

The most dangerous part of the ordinance, according to Kennedy, was the wording that the right to continue nonconforming storage use in rural residential, urban residential or residential office districts shall be terminated after one year.

"This will apply to all you people out there that were annexed into the city of Homer, if I'm reading this right," said Kennedy, referring to areas the city annexed in 2002. "When you were annexed you were promised uses you have of your land would continue. What we have here is a backdoor approach to take your land like you want to use it away."

Brought before council members for discussion, David Lewis asked Rick Abboud, city planner, for clarification of the one-year termination of nonconforming structures.

"That part of the ordinance was suggested by the city attorney," said Abboud.

Council member Bryan Zak then made a motion that the ordinance be amended to delete the lines pertaining to the one-year termination. It passed with no objection, as did the amended ordinance.

However, during a period for public comment at the end of the meeting, Kennedy was back at the microphone.

"You took out the thing about the one-year deal, but you didn't take out the 1,500-square-foot deal, so you still have broken promises to people you annexed. When fishermen and working people are coming to this kind of head-butting to make a living, I think you're running them out of town," said Kennedy, who urged the council reconsider the ordinance.

In other public comment opposing the ordinance, the 36-foot limit for stored boats was noted. Confusion as to whether home offices were ruled out by the ordinance also was raised.

During final comments by the council, Lewis did call for reconsideration "so that we can allow people that have become part of the city that didn't want to be part of the city to at least have their say on that."

Lewis requested the ordinance be placed on the agenda for the next council meeting, March 14.

A city of Homer zoning map can be found on the Planning Department's website, www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/planning.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben. jackinsky@homernews.com.

In other actions Monday, the Homer City Council also:

• Passed Ordinance 11-04, accepting a state of Alaska legislative grant of $1.5 million for expanding and renovating city hall;

• Passed Ordinance 11-05, accepting a state of Alaska legislative grant of $1 million for conducting preliminary work on Phase I of the Deep Water Dock Expansion Project;

• Passed Ordinance 11-06, accepting a state of Alaska legislative grant of $250,000 for improvements to Karen Hornaday park;

• Passed Ordinance 11-07, appropriating $17,000 for the purchase and installation of a new data collection and management software for the Homer Volunteer Fire Department;

• Passed Ordinance 11-08, authorizing the expenditure of $359,800 for completing the design and construction of Soundview Avenue-Woodard Creek Crossing improvement.;

• Introduced Ordinance 11-09, amending city code with regard to the use and disposal of dredge material from the city port and harbor facilities, with a public hearing and second reading March 14;

• Introduced Ordinance 11-10, appropriating $11,000 for the purchase and installation of a new data collection and management software for the City Hall servers, with a public hearing and second reading March 14;

• Amended and passed Resolution 11-007(S), amending, approving and adopting the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy;

• Amended and passed Resolution 11-022, expressing an intent to continue including the Pratt Museum in the city's snowplowing and sanding services contract;

• Postponed until March 14 Resolution 11-023, finding the need to create the Kachemak Drive Phase Two Water and Sewer Local Improvement District and scheduling a public hearing on the necessity of the plan;

• Pulled from the agenda Resolution 11-024, awarding a contract for the replacment and installation of a card reader access system.


In other actions Monday, the Homer City Council also:

• Passed Ordinance 11-04, accepting a state of Alaska legislative grant of $1.5 million for expanding and renovating city hall;

• Passed Ordinance 11-05, accepting a state of Alaska legislative grant of $1 million for conducting preliminary work on Phase I of the Deep Water Dock Expansion Project;

• Passed Ordinance 11-06, accepting a state of Alaska legislative grant of $250,000 for improvements to Karen Hornaday park;

• Passed Ordinance 11-07, appropriating $17,000 for the purchase and installation of a new data collection and management software for the Homer Volunteer Fire Department;

• Passed Ordinance 11-08, authorizing the expenditure of $359,800 for completing the design and construction of Soundview Avenue-Woodard Creek Crossing improvement.;

• Introduced Ordinance 11-09, amending city code with regard to the use and disposal of dredge material from the city port and harbor facilities, with a public hearing and second reading March 14;

• Introduced Ordinance 11-10, appropriating $11,000 for the purchase and installation of a new data collection and management software for the City Hall servers, with a public hearing and second reading March 14.

• Amended and passed Resolution 11-007(S), amending, approving and adopting the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy;

• Amended and passed Resolution 11-022, expressing an intent to continue including the Pratt Museum in the city's snowplowing and sanding services contract;

• Postponed until March 14 Resolution 11-023, finding the need to create the Kachemak Drive Phase Two Water and Sewer Local Improvement District and scheduling a public hearing on the necessity of the plan;

• Pulled from the agenda Resolution 11-024, awarding a contract for the replacment and installation of a card reader access system.

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