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Gated subdivsion ordinance passes assembly

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Kenai Peninsula Borough
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The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly had seemingly put to bed the long-running debate over private roads and gated subdivisions in the Kenai Peninsula. The ordinance passed Tuesday night on a 5-to-4 vote. But in an effort to give fellow assemblymembers the opportunity to change their minds, Assemblyman Willy Dunne later called for a reconsideration vote. That will take place on May 5.
    Assemblyman Brent Johnson of Clam Gulch said he thought gated communities would be beneficial in two ways: property values would go up, filling borough coffers through increased property tax, and the burden of road maintenance would fall to property owners behind the gates.
    But Dunne, of Homer, brought a different perspective.
    “First of all, I think some of us are looking at this wrong way here. It's not opposition to a gated subdivision that's the issue here. It's the, uh, conversion of  public streets, public roads, public borough roads, some have been in use for decades and converting those to private,” Dunne said. “And I respectfully disagree with Mr. Johnson about nobody losing any walking paths or walking trails or hiking trails. Many of our borough roads in quiet neighborhoods are walking paths for neighbors and nearby residents.”
     As it turns out, Mr. Dunne’s argument was persuasive enough to sway Mr. Johnson.
     “I always figure things out as I go in life, and I'm very much in favor of gated communities. They just make sense to me. But unfortunately, Mr. Dunne is right. Ah,  there's two points he made that just are going to have, that are swinging my vote,” Johnson said. “And here's the deal. It is a public right away and the public is losing access to that right away. If a person had been walking up this road, now they would have to walk around the road and if the gated community was large, I know I've seen some large ones in the States and that could get to be an unhandy thing, so people are giving up a right.”
    Dunne’s argument however didn’t sit well with Mayor Charlie Pierce, who suggested that not passing the ordinance would create lawlessness among borough landowners.
    “Every gate that's out there, then we'll issue an order to remove them. So what we'll need to do,” Pierce said. “Basically what you're done is you're, you're allowing existing gates that are out there and you're not regulating them. You're not enforcing anything with them. They put them up, or the administration, we get folks that come in here and want to put a gate up, (and) I guess we're just advise them, ‘just put it up cause we're not regulating them.’”
    Dunne said that was not so, that there are already gated communities in the borough, legally.
     “Gated subdivisions are allowed in the borough. The Kenai keys is a perfect example. It was created from scratch, and anybody who wants to develop a gated subdivision on undeveloped land can do so. They can do that,” Dunne said. “And we've even made exceptions. I voted yes to allow Betty Lou Drive to become a private road because it was at the end of a dead end road and nobody used it.”
    In the end, the vote was five in favor of creating private gated subdivisions on existing borough roads or rights of way, and four against. The dissenting votes were cast by Assembly members Dunne, Johnson, and Hall Smalley, and President Kelly Cooper.

*This story has been updated to add details of the reconsideration vote.

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