Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 8:13 PM on Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Council rejects rules for outdoor storage

By McKibben Jackinsky
Staff Writer

Don't tell Homer residents what they can and can't store on their land was the message delivered to Homer City Council at its regular meeting Tuesday.

If passed, Ordinance 11-03 would have defined in city code what could be stored on property zoned rural residential, urban residential and residential office. After all was said and done and multiple changes made, however, the six-member council gave the ordinance a unanimous thumbs-down.

"Truthfully, I still haven't figured out what you're trying to do with it," longtime Homer resident Ray Kranich said of the ordinance during public testimony.

Originally introduced at the council's Feb. 15 meeting, the ordinance drew considerable opposition during a public hearing and second reading at the council's Feb. 28 meeting. So much opposition, in fact, that council member David Lewis asked for reconsideration to allow further opportunity for the public to express their views at the council's March 14 meeting.

When an increased number of residents expressed displeasure with the ordinance at that meeting, the council made numerous changes to 11-03. So many changes were made that voting on the final version was delayed until a fresh copy of the ordinance could be presented to the council at Tuesday's meeting.

The three-page, whittled-down version of the original five-page ordinance was accompanied by a memo from city attorney Tom Klinkner comparing storage regulations already covered by city code to changes that would result if Ordinance 11-03 were passed. A memo from Rick Abboud, city planner, also considered the impact of the ordinance and outlined the purpose for each of the three land use designations.

"A lot of us moved to this town because we liked the way it was. We didn't like a lot of changes. I understand the city needs to keep up and keep it clean, but by the same token, if people really don't like how things are, maybe they need to move and leave the rest of us alone," testified resident Mike De Vaney. "We like it here. We like it as it is. We all try to keep things as clean as possible, but by the same token, we like to be left alone."

Resident David Knight said, "As it is now, I have a right of way on the front and back of my property. Out of a 75-foot lot, that leaves about 50 feet. If the city wants to tell me what I can do with the rest of my property, why don't they just go ahead and purchase my property and then they can tell me what to do with it."

Michael Kennedy noted the council had "done a good job of paring this down," but urged the ordinance be voted down.

"My feeling and a lot of people I know feel that zoning ordinances, city ordinances should only be written for public health and safety. The rest is just trying to have your own way about something," said Kennedy.

Making it clear she was representing herself and not speaking as chair of the city's advisory planning commission, Sharon Minsch urged the council to consider the number of residents not testifying on the subject.

"There are 6,000 people in this town. When 10-15 come to talk, you obviously have to listen to them and figure it out, but I encourage you to look at the broader picture," said Minsch.

During a meeting of the Committee of the Whole earlier in the day, City Manager Walt Wrede cautioned the council against making amendments "on the fly" that could lead to unintended consequences and possible inconsistencies with the city's comprehensive plan.

"I suggest the council maybe vote down (the ordinance) and ... let the planning commission work on it some more," said Wrede.

When it finally came to a vote, the amended version of Ordinance 11-03 received a cold shoulder from all six council members, with Bryan Zak participating telephonically.

The March 18 fire at Northern Enterprises Boat Yard served as a graphic example of the need to complete the Kachemak Drive Water-Sewer Project. When completed, the project will bring water and sewer to an area that stretches from the intersection of East End Road and Kachemak Drive, south along Kachemak Drive.

"The fire truck had to go a half mile for water. When it came back, the place was out of control. I stood there and watched my boat go up in flames," said Wes Humbyrd. "I want to tell you people to do your job. I lost $250,000 in that fire and I'm not happy about it."

Wrede gave an update on the water and sewer project and Public Works Director Carey Meyer explained the roadblocks that have slowed its progress. Among them were state and federal areas of oversight, concerns about bluff erosion, issues relating to impact to wetlands, the suggestion that cutting alders along Kachemak Drive would adversely affect the Kenai Peninsula moose population, obtaining easements and bidding problems.

"I'd like to remind everyone that Public Works and myself personally are trying to clear all the potential hurdles and not waste any more of the construction season and see if we can't get this thing constructed this summer," said Meyer.

Kranich's years of service on the Homer Advisory Planning Commission were noted by council members Francie Roberts and Barbara Howard at the close of Tuesday's meeting. Kranich resigned from the commission recently, saying it was solely due to criticism of the commission from council member Hogan at the council's March 14 meeting.

During closing comments Tuesday, Hogan repeated the apology he made at the March 14 meeting.

"I certainly did not intend to issue demeaning comments to Mr. Kranich," said Hogan. "I have a lot of respect for him. The only personal comment I've made to Mr. Kranich was to congratulate him and thank him for his service."

The next regular meeting of the Homer City Council is April 11.

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

In other action at the March 29 regular meeting of the Homer City Council:

• Mayor James C. Hornaday recognized Joe Martishev, Voznesenka School wrestling champion, and Mitch Wyatt, Homer High School wrestling champion;

• Introduced Ordinance 11-11, appropriating $9,000 for construction of the West Homer Elementary Trail Project, with a public hearing and second reading April 11;

• Introduced Ordinance 11-12, appropriating $2,800 for playground equipment for Bayview Park, with a public hearing and second reading April 11;

• Passed Resolution 11-031, amending the Library Advisory Board regular meeting time to 5 p.m.;

• Passed Resolution 11-032, supporting the city's participation in the Alaska municipal League Joint Insurance Association Loss Control Incentive Program;

• Passed Resolution 11-033, urging the North Pacific Fishery Management Council to adopt measures that reduce the chinook salmon prohibited species catch in the Gulf of Alaska commercial trawl fisheries;

• Passed Resolution 11-034 Substitute, approving a long-term parking plan for the port and harbor area on the Spit;

• Passed Resolution 11-035, awarding the contract for refurbishing the one pedestal crane on the Homer fish dock to Alaska Hydraulics, Inc. of Anchorage in the amount of $46,780.