Story last updated at 3:27 p.m. Thursday, September 12, 2002

Road standards ordinance faces veto
by Mark Kelsey
Staff Writer

Homeowners in future subdivisions may find themselves with an added expense following an expected veto of the recently approved borough road standards ordinance.

The controversial ordinance, which imposes stricter requirements on developers, was first passed by a slim 5-4 margin in early August after months of meetings, hearings and debate by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly. It was brought back later that month for reconsideration and passed by the same margin after new language was added to it.

Now it faces a new hurdle -- a mayoral veto. According to Ed Oberts, assistant to Borough Mayor Dale Bagley, the veto was slated to be signed Wednesday afternoon.

"The mayor plans on vetoing the ordinance," Oberts said Wednesday morning. "While this ordinance had the intention of improving future roads, it created a detriment to homesteaders and large landowners who might want to subdivide and enhance their ability to market their property."

The ordinance's sponsor, Milli Martin, said she was unhappy with the planned veto, which she said places the interests of developers over homeowners.

"I've been working on this for almost a year," said Martin, who represents Diamond Ridge and Seldovia. "It's had eight public hearings, and the mayor has never offered an opinion on the need for change or anything.

"I don't think the mayor is aware of the public support for it," she added. "He's just heard from developers."

Bagley, who made good roads a cornerstone of his campaign in 1999 and has reiterated his commitment to good roads in his current campaign for re-election, said the veto is not inconsistent with his position.

"We're doing plenty to improve roads," Bagley said Tuesday. "But if this costs us money to implement, is it a good thing?"

Rep. Ken Lancaster, who is seeking to unseat Bagley, said "in general," he supports Martin's ordinance.

Martin said she believes there is no reason to veto the bill. The cost of upgrading a road to standards is two to three times what it would cost to build it right at the beginning, she said.

"The time for this ordinance is here. We have too many instances of roads not being built to standard," she said. "The taxpayer ends up having to pay for it. It should be an up-front cost of the building of the road at the beginning."

Chris Moss, who represents Homer on the assembly, also voted in favor of the ordinance.

"Sooner or later we have to make a decision to start producing good roads in this borough," he said. "I think the sooner we get started, the more (roads) we'll have that aren't substandard."

The mayor's veto will be on the agenda when the borough assembly meets in Homer Tuesday night. Six votes are required to override the veto.

Martin said she does not expect that any of the four assembly members who voted against the ordinance (Grace Merkes of Sterling, Paul Fisher of Tustumena, Gary Superman of Nikiski, and Betty Glick of Kenai South) will change their vote.

Peninsula Clarion reporter Hal Spence contributed to this story.