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Homer City Council Recap - January 27, 2020

City of Homer

At last (Monday) night’s Homer City Council meeting, the gated community plans before the Kenai Peninsula Borough were addressed in a couple of different ways.

First, the council passed a memo with suggestions and questions that it had for the Borough Planning Commission, as explained by council member Rachel Lord.

“In the introduction to the memo, it notes that the the commission and the council asked to provide input to the borough by January 30 for review by the borough planning commission on Feb. 10, and the borough assembly in Feb. 25,” she said. “I think the message that I took from this memo from the planning commission is that they've spent a considerable amount of time reviewing it, and they have a lot of questions and continued policy considerations for the city. To my reading that is valuable input to provide back to the borough planning commission and the borough assembly by their Jan. 30 deadline.”

Immediately afterward, the council passed a resolution suggesting the borough set aside any gated community proposals.

“In looking at other communities in the borough and feedback, and looking at our planning commission's memo and recommendations, this feels like it's something that maybe has not been worked through the communities very well,” Lord said. “And I don't see it being high on our priority list in terms of something to be devoting commission and staff time to, especially when they are well tasked and I think we have plenty of vision for them to be further tasked throughout this year.”

The council also passed an ordinance requiring new as-built drawings of property after work has been done. Council member Heath Smith said the ordinance was created because of abuses.

“Historically, if you look back, there's too many people that have taken great licensing where they build and what they build, and then encroaches or it's not in the proper set back, and then it becomes a problem of everybody else,” Smith said. “And so, you know, we can talk about other processes to get there, but either way, it's time and resource. And so should that be the city's time and resource or should it be the property owners time and resource?”

Local resident Larry Sloan however, lamented the increase in costs.

“This ordinance takes another small step or large step depending on how wealthy you are towards making Homer much more compliant, if you will, with all the various codes that are out there, which some people, many people in our civilization in our society think they're absolutely necessary in order to have a civilized lifestyle. I disagree somewhat,” Sloan said. “I think this one adds about $750 on to the cost of any construction project that any person wants to initiate in their property such as a a separate garage.”

Council member Joey Evenson said that he sympathized with Sloan, adding it does not include smaller structures.

“As I understand it, as-built would not be required for a building less than 200 square feet so that a lot of sheds fall in that category, which I think thankfully for for our lifestyles and not putting an undue burden on folks,” Evenson said. “But something larger than, a or as large as, a 20-by-10 structure would require it as-built.”

The council passed the ordinance, which Sloan said marked the end of the frontier in Homer.

“I forget the name of the historian indicated the frontier it ceased in the Lower 48 and 1892, or there-abouts,” Sloan said. “Well, I guess you can mark 2020 is a year of the frontier is ending here in Homer, Alaska. Henceforward, everything's going to have to be done according to code. Yeah, I just want to point that out. People can draw their own conclusions, whether or not this direction we want to continue and whether it's worth it all. Thank you.”

In other news, the first meeting to go over applicants for city manager has been moved to Monday, February 3 at 4 p.m., and will be open to the public. Telephone interviews of semi-finalists will be held later in the month.

The next regular meeting of the council will be on Feb. 10.

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