Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 4:13 PM on Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Gas line ordinances help with build-out

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

As part of a city strategy to show the Alaska Legislature and Gov. Sean Parnell that Homer will pay for a build-out of a natural gas line if the state approves an $8 million grant to extend a natural gas line to Homer, the Homer City Council moved ahead on two ordinances on Tuesday night.

In two unanimous votes, the council passed an ordinance establishing how city rights-of-way can be used for utilities like gas lines. The council also passed on first reading and introduction an ordinance revising how special assessment districts are created that makes it easier to do a build-out of a distribution system from a main line. It had defeated an earlier version out of concerns with issues like how many council members needed to vote to create a special assessment district for consideration by property owners.

Those issues were addressed.

In a videoconference appearance from Juneau by Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, Seaton told the council the only resistance he'd seen to the gas line from other legislators was a worry that Homer would come back later and "double dip" by asking for another grant for the build-out.

"That's the only concern I've heard about the gas line," Seaton said.

Some citizens spoke on the right-of-way ordinance, urging the council to pass it.

"Anything we can do at all about what Rep. Seaton talked to us tonight," said Terry Thompson. "There's a concern that if we bring the gas line to Homer there's a perceived chance there won't be a distribution system in place."

"Do whatever you can to bring down the cost of utilities," said Lynda Reed, owner of Picture Alaska and Homer Art & Frame, who said her propane bill this winter was $3,000. "It's becoming as a business owner I don't know if I can continue during the winter."

The special assessment ordinance comes up for a public hearing and action at the April 9 meeting.

Another ordinance also up for public hearing next month is an amended version of revisions to the city sign code. In January, the council sent the ordinance back to the Homer Advisory Planning Commission and the Economic Development Commission for its advice, particularly on the controversial issue of banning temporary commercial signs and sandwich boards. The planning commission recommended allowing temporary signs under current city code. The code restricts temporary signs to 14 days in a 90-day period. The planning commission suggested requiring a permit for temporary signs. The Economic Development Commission suggested making the 90 days the same as sales tax quarters used by the Kenai Peninsula Borough, that is, January to March, April to June, etc. The council amended the ordinance on the table to incorporate those recommendations, but on the advice of City Clerk Jo Johnson, postponed action until the next meeting to allow for public comment.

Other public hearings to be held will be for comments on two resolutions amending long-term parking fees on the Homer Spit. The new fees would be set at $70 a month for vehicles less than 20 feet long and $85 a month for vehicles more than 20 feet long.

The council's next meeting is at 6 p.m. April 9 in the Cowles Council Chambers, Homer City Hall.

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