600-foot 'unanimous consent' zone added to gated subdivision rule

May 7, 2020

Credit Kenai Peninsula Borough

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly voted again Tuesday night to allow public roads and rights-of-way to be gated off into private streets and subdivisions. Two weeks ago the ordinance passed 5-to-4.
    After the assembly passed the ordinance two weeks ago, Homer Assembly member Willy Dunne asked for a reconsideration vote in one last attempt to sway more assembly members to his side. At the meeting he kept up his insistence that the ordinance was bad public policy due to the overwhelming public opposition to privatizing public property.
    “But the fact is, these rights of way are the trails that people use., whether it's a small, narrow dirt road that somebody has been using for decades for skiing or horseback riding or just people out for an evening stroll after dinner, you know, to have done that for years and then all of a sudden see a no trespassing sign. It just just seems like bad public policy,” Dunne said. “We have a process. We've been doing this for nearly 50 years. We could make agreements with private landowners. When a private landowner wants to subdivide their property, we go through a process and make agreements to create these access routes, whether they're for vehicles or to access other properties or to access public lands it's part of an ongoing agreement that we've been doing very successfully for decades. And to change that process now and, and to allow, uh, these to happen after the fact, I think is just, it's just not good policy.”
    Assembly member Tyson Cox pointed out there are processes in which trails and other rights-of-way can be designated, if need be.
    “If there's a problem with the right of way or a trail, should that not be dealt with through the vacation process and not through this ordinance because it's really not affected by this ordinance, it's affected by the vacation process,” Cox said. “So if somebody really has a problem with that, I'd love to see these folks in Homer that have written all these emails, come bring something to of us or, have one of us bring something forward that changes that or adds trails to where there can be something that says, 'okay, this is a trail everybody uses, we cannot vacate it for these reasons.' To me, that makes a lot more sense than going into the gated community ordinance and stating in there that we're not going to do the gated community ordinance because of the vacation process.”
    Assembly member Brent Johnson of Clam Gulch offered an amendment to the ordinance creating a 600-foot buffer, which did pass 8-to-1.
    “What I'm thinking of doing is offering an amendment that would still allow gated communities. It wouldn't be my guess that there's probably some times that people would want to form a gated community, just like people want to form a local option zoning district, and there's really nobody opposed, and they just want to do it and nobody cares,” Johnson said. “And so I would like them to have that opportunity. So eventually I'm gonna offer this amendment and it would just say that, ‘unanimous consent of residents within 600 feet is required.’”
    In the end, though, Johnson did not join those who voted against the ordinance as he did two weeks ago, and it passed 6-to-3, with Dunne, Assembly President Kelly Cooper, and Kenai Assembly member Hal Smalley dissenting.