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Borough assembly approves more money for appeals of planning commission decisions

Courtesy of the Kenai Peninsula Borough
Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough is spending more money on appeals related to the borough planning commission’s decisions than it originally anticipated.  There have been three appeals so far this fiscal year.  Two of the appeals were related to gravel pit permits.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly designated about $26,000 to cover additional costs during its meeting Tuesday.

The assembly has spent roughly $16,0000 on appeals so far this fiscal year.

Robin Davis claimed there would not be so many appeals if the planning commission had more discretion to make decisions that would withstand a court challenge.

Davis is a member of the Kenai Peninsula Borough’s Material Site Work Group, which is reviewing codes regulating gravel pits and other resource development. The group will eventually give recommendations to the assembly detailing how the planning commission should handle the permitting process.

Currently, the planning commission cannot deny permits if they fit basic criteria surrounding noise, the visibility of the site and buffer zones among other standards.

“Our code lacks the discretionary criteria necessary for the planning commission, a decision by the planning commission to be able to stand up to someone who is bound and determined to get one [permit] permitted,” he said. “I suggest that discretionary criteria be introduced to our code, which would enable the planning commission to make those sorts of decisions.”

Davis wants requirements on gravel pit and other resource site permits that could make it harder for them to get approved. But it’s unclear if the work group will recommend that the assembly change the borough’s current criteria. 

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