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Cooper Landing residents ask for veto of concrete plant, but mayor upholds decision

David Block and Conc
Riley Board
David Block and Concrete's location in Kenai, located off Ciechanski Road.

More than 100 Cooper Landing residents called on the borough mayor to veto an ordinance, passed by the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly at its last meeting, that would allow a concrete company to lease a one-acre parcel in the community. A batch plant on the parcel would provide concrete for the Cooper Landing Bypass and Juneau Creek Bridge projects currently under construction in Cooper Landing.

But on Tuesday, the mayor chose to uphold the assembly’s decision.

The lease, between Kenai-based company Davis Block and Concrete and the borough, allows the company to operate at the Snug Harbor Road parcel for the next five years.

Cooper Landing community members turned out at the assembly’s March 19 meeting to protest an ordinance authorizing the lease. A dozen people, like Snug Harbor resident Rhonda Lynn, testified with concerns about residential safety, traffic and the environment.

“I implore you to put this lease on hold until a heavy industrial or unclassified location can be found, and we can guarantee that it will not impact our important waters that we must protect,” Lynn said.

Petitioners also took issue with the short timeline on which the lease was approved by a local planning commission, and the fact that the site is classified as light industrial.

But the assembly approved the lease anyway in an 8-1 vote.

On Tuesday morning, a group of residents shared a letter, with 125 signatures, asking Borough Mayor Peter Micciche to veto the ordinance.

“With no other option, Cooper Landing business and community members, deeply opposed to a concrete plant location approved by the KPB Assembly on March 19, are turning to Mayor Micciche in calling for a veto,” an email accompanying the letter reads.

The letter cites nine specific concerns with the city, including a lack of community inclusion in the decision, improper notice, a failure to consider other possible sites, safety and the land classification issue. It concludes by asking that the batch plant be moved to a different parcel.

Davis Block's concrete batch plant in Kenai.
Riley Board
Davis Block's concrete batch plant in Kenai.

At last night’s assembly meeting, Micciche said that he had received the letter and was aware of the community’s concerns, but didn’t plan to veto.

“Politics is a team sport. And when eight of my team members made the tough choice to move forward on the best site for everyone involved, I’m going to support them, so veto was not something I was considering,” Micciche said. “I will schedule a meeting with the folks in Cooper Landing to talk about the details and what we’ll do to ensure that it is a safe operation throughout the length of that lease.”

On Wednesday, Rhonda Lynn, who testified at the last hearing on the lease, said she hasn’t heard anything yet about that meeting. She said she’s not especially concerned about the company operating safely.

“Personally, I feel confident that Davis Block will work with our community on safety issues and be a good neighbor,” Lynn said. “We have no problem working with Davis Block.”

But Lynn says the letter lays out lots of other concerns, like the precedent set by allowing a batch plant on the site, that she and the community would like to see addressed.

“I can only hope that [Micciche] will be able to help us with those issues as well,” she said.

Davis Block is set to begin work at the site this summer.

Riley Board is a Report For America participant and senior reporter at KDLL covering rural communities on the central Kenai Peninsula.
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