Homer Alaska - News

Story last updated at 9:25 PM on Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Council passes Spit comp plan; city to enforce sign regulations

By Michael Armstrong
Staff Writer

At its regular meeting Tuesday night — delayed a day for high school graduations — the Homer City Council took actions that could bring better planning to the Homer Spit. In unanimous votes, the council passed the Homer Spit Comprehensive Plan and approved a Transfer of Responsibility Agreement, or TORA, with the state of Alaska to enforce parking, loading zones, pedestrian crossings and seasonal speed zones on the Spit.

Homer City Manager Walt Wrede also advised the council that the Planning Department sent letters to Sterling Highway, Ocean Drive and Homer Spit Road property owners alerting them it will enforce sign regulations for portable "sandwich board" signs, including signs that intrude into the road right-of-way. Signs in the right-of-way violate city code and could be subject to $75 a day fines and seizure.

The Homer Spit Comprehensive Plan amends the 2008 Homer Comprehensive Plan. Under state law, the Kenai Peninsula Borough provides for planning on an area wide basis, and Tuesday's action recommends that the borough Planning Commission approve the Spit comp plan.

At the council's work session earlier, Council member Kevin Hogan had questioned one goal and objective, Goal 1.4, saying that development "should recognize, value and complement the unique natural resources on the Homer Spit." Hogan took issue with an objective that would "allow natural transport of sediments along the west side of the Spit to continue uninterrupted." As a strategy for that goal, the Spit comp plan says that "proponents of bulkheads, groins, breakwaters or other devices shall demonstrate that their project will not adversely disrupt this sediment transportation."

Hogan said he thought slowing down sediment transport could be a good thing, since it helps rebuild the Spit.

Harbormaster Bryan Hawkins told the council that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers wants to avoid groins and similar devices, but that beach renourishing is acceptable.

Hogan later said he would vote for the Spit comp plan.

"I'm quite pleased with the final end product and I certainly think we should support it," he said.

Council member Barbara Howard thanked the Homer Advisory Planning Commission and other commissioners for its work on the Spit comp plan.

"While it's a long process, I think the product is outstanding," she said.

The process to write a Spit comp plan began in the summer of 2009, when a public workshops was first held to solicit ideas and suggestions. Working with the Homer Planning Department and planning commissioners, USKH Inc., an Anchorage planning firm, helped develop the Spit comp plan. Spit plans date back to 1988, but the latest 46-page document is the first comprehensive plan for the Spit. The 1999 Homer Comprehensive Plan included a two-page Homer Spit Plan. When the city decided to update its Homer Comprehensive Plan in 2006, officials excluded the Spit section. The Spit comp plan describes goals, preferred development and recommends public improvements for the Spit. A complete copy is available online at www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/planning/spit-comprehensive-plan-draft.

The TORA allows the city to implement regulations suggested in a section of the Spit comp plan setting parking and transportation goals. Rather than look to the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities to establish parking along the Spit Road right-of-way or change speed limits, the agreement allows the city to do that. The city also can add pedestrian crosswalks or establish loading zones.

"The opportunity to control our destiny in the neighborhood we call the Spit is important to us," said Howard in voicing support for the TORA.

In other action, the council:

• Approved a recommendation to the Alcoholic Beverage Control Board that it transfer a liquor license from Uncle Thirsty's on East End Road to the Grog Shop East End;

• Approved appointing Lindianne Sarno to the Economic Development Advisory Commission and reappointing Marianne Aplin and Gaye Wolfe to the Public Arts Committee;

• Approved an amended ordinance appropriating about $7,800 to sandblast and recoat a CAT loader;

• Approved spending about $487,000 from the depreciation reserves for renovation and expansion of City Hall;

• On a 4-1 vote, with Hogan dissenting, approved on reconsideration appropriating $20,000 to buy a used light tower and Dynapac compactor for Public Works;

• Approved a contract with Green Construction of Homer for about $216,000 to replace a culvert at Soundview Avenue and Woodward Creek;

• Approved adopting a new ground lease document;

• Approved establishing an Adopt-a-Park program;

• Approved introducing an ordinance amending city code regarding management of city records;

• Approved introducing an ordinance authorizing spending $55,000 on Phase 1 improvements to Karen Hornaday Park.

Those two ordinances are up for a public hearing, second reading and council action at its next meeting at 6 p.m. June 13.

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