The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly will meet for the last time in 2019 Tuesday. Among the agenda items are what could be a final vote on a reworking of the borough’s code for material sites, namely, gravel pits.
A work group was put together almost two years ago to look at potential changes and dig into current rules.
Some of the things the group looked at were very basic, like, how to measure the depth of a gravel pit, as borough planning director Max Best explains.
“This is kind of a biggy. (Code) is reworded to require elevation of proposed excavation rather than the depth of excavation as typical landscaping inendates and goes up and down. How do you monitor, make sure, they’re not going to dig in the (ground) water? That’s what I’ve heard time and time again is how do you know. I have to go send people to the gravel pits and dig holes to see that there’s not water in there and that’s not something I want people to have to do.”
Other proposed changes are even more basic, like simply requiring a permitted area be clearly marked before any work begins to make natural buffers aren’t accidentally removed.
“That is a real life situation we’ve had to deal with, where we’ve gone out and said ‘what were you thinking? You just took down the 50 foot buffer.’ So now we’re stuck with what does that mean? The planning commission approved it, now you’ve got to modify your permit. You can’t put back a tree. It really strapped us for dealing with accidental things.”
With one working group’s job finished, another will be created Tuesday. An anadromous waters habitat protection group has been charged with reviewing borough code, mostly as it pertains to a 50 foot setback to buffer salmon-bearing waters from overdevelopment. Brent Johnson will represent the assembly for the group, and Robert Ruffner will represent the planning commission. General public members from across the peninsula include Branden Bornemann from the Kenai Watershed Forum, Dawson Slaughter who serves on the Anchor Point Advisory Planning Commission, local realtor Ed Oberts, former assembly president Wayne Ogle from Nikiski and Kaitlin Vadla, who also sits on the Soldotna planning commission. When the rules were adopted in their final form, they called for a review every five years, beginning in 2020.