Story last updated at 1:12 p.m. Thursday, September 19, 2002

Veto of road standards ordinance draws comment
by Chris Bernard
Staff Writer

Borough Mayor Dale Bagley's recent veto of a roads standards ordinance came briefly under fire Tuesday night when the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly met in Homer.

Ordinance 2001-47, sponsored by Milli Martin, who represents Diamond Ridge-Seldovia, would have prohibited a property owner from selling, or even offering to sell, any lots in a proposed subdivision subject to the ordinance until after building the roads in the subdivision to borough road maintenance standards.

The controversial ordinance was first passed by a slim 5-4 margin in early August after months of meetings, hearings and debate by the assembly. Later that month, it came up for reconsideration, and passed by the same margin after new language was added to it.

But citing the increase in the cost of subdividing property, "potentially inhibiting development and proving detrimental to the local economy," Bagley vetoed the ordinance at the 11th hour.

At Tuesday's meeting, speaking from the floor during public comments, Homer City Council member Rick Ladd spoke out on the issue.

Ladd made it clear he was not speaking on behalf of the council.

"I realize there's a fine balance between development and over-regulation," he said. "It is incumbent upon the borough to ensure these roads are built to standard so the general public doesn't need to cover the cost later on.

"I'd like to see us go back to the drawing board and rework this thing to make sure the cost is not going to come back to the public," Ladd said.

Chris Moss, who represents Homer on the assembly, had similar remarks during his report on the borough's Lands Committee meeting held earlier in the day.

"I think it's unfortunate that we didn't see some of (Bagley's concerns) come before us in the nine months this was open for hearings," he said. "But it is the mayor's prerogative to veto it."

Martin also spoke at length about the veto in her closing remarks Tuesday night.

"The public in Homer has been supportive of this ordinance. I certainly would not have pursued it without that support. I am very sorry the mayor did not listen to the public, or his roads board."

Martin said she appreciated the input from land developers, contractors and the general public during the eight public hearings, but was surprised by the mayor's veto because it came without warning.

"I'm acutely disappointed," she told the Homer News on Wednesday morning. "The mayor had nine months of hearings in which he never once offered anything, never said that he had concerns. Why did he wait until the last minute to veto, and why didn't he work with me on this?"

Martin said she plans to take another look at the issue and bring it forward again.

"I'm not going to let it die," she said. "It's too important an issue."

The assembly meets in Homer once each year. Tuesday's meeting, held at Homer City Council chambers at city hall, ran about two hours, but assembly members met earlier in the day for a work session and committee meetings.

"I think it's important to have these meetings at the other end of the borough from time to time to remind everyone there's more than just Kenai and Soldotna," Moss said. "It gives people in Homer a chance to speak out on issues, too."

Chris Bernard can be reached at cbernard@homernews.com.

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