Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 2:07 PM on Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Rezone serves no public purpose

City Planner Rick Abboud is quoted in the Dec. 1 Homer News as follows: "We recognized the current zoning of that area doesn't necessarily accommodate all the activities that are there."

So what? It is not the purpose of zoning to accommodate all existing activities. If it were, the city would be obligated to accommodate the existing activities of Mike Kennedy instead of taking him to court. One primary purpose of zoning is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the general public by separating conflicting uses.

The proposed rezone would endanger the public health, safety and welfare by allowing residential uses adjacent to commercial/industrial uses. It also would reduce the extremely limited space where commercial/industrial uses can legally operate within Homer city limits.

The Homer News states, "Existing homes would be allowed, and homeowners could remodel, expand and rebuild homes." Existing homes in the subject area are either grandfathered or illegal i.e., constructed after zoning laws prohibiting them were implemented.

The true purpose of this proposed rezone is to facilitate the financing and sale of one grandfathered residence by allowing it to be remodeled, expanded and/or rebuilt. Financial institutions are often reluctant to finance a structure that cannot be rebuilt following a fire etc. Prohibiting the rebuilding of a grandfathered use or structure promotes the discontinuation of that use or structure which is generally considered to be a good public policy. Facilitating the financing for the sale and perpetuation of a nonconforming structure is not listed in the Homer City Code as one of the purposes of zoning.

If the proposed rezone is enacted, there would be scores of grandfathered uses and structures within Homer's other zoning districts that would remain subject to restrictions on rebuilding, expanding and remodeling. Lending institutions would be reluctant to finance those non-rebuildable grandfathered uses and structures. If the city allows grandfathered property owners in one zoning district to rebuild, remodel, expand and obtain financing, then the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution mandates that those privileges be bestowed on all similarly situated property owners.

No public purpose is served by the proposed rezone and it should be voted down. If the restrictions on grandfathered property owners are deemed unduly onerous and/or unfair, this issue should be addressed on a city-wide basis.

Frank Griswold