Assembly Hears Concerns On Stream Ordinance

Shaylon Cochran

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     The agenda at Tuesday evening’s meeting of the Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly was relatively brief, giving the Assembly time to hear public testimony from many in the packed chambers.  The issues of concern:  the Borough’s anadromous streams ordinance and the PETS working group.

     The first order of business at Tuesday’s meeting was the swearing in of new Assembly member Kelly Wolf, while reelected members Hal Smalley, Mako Haggerty and Sue McClure reaffirmed their oaths.  This is the last term for current Assembly president Gary Knopp, who received a round of praise from his colleagues.  Assembly member Charlie Pierce said it’s likely only because of term limits that Knopp will not return.

     After a short break for some cake, members of the PETS working group delivered an update on the work they’ve been doing over the past fourteen months.  The group was established last summer in a resolution that acknowledged the need to develop a plan in accordance with the federal Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards Act.

     “This mandates that FEMA’s plans take into account the needs of people with pets and service animals prior to, during and after a major emergency,” said Jeanette Hanneman, who chaired the working group.

     The working group has focused on developing the plan locally for creating a place where displaced pets can be taken in the event of an emergency, but stops short of creating an animal control entity on the Peninsula.

     “FEMA requires certified animal control officers perform much of the setup of the shelter as well as handling the animals,” said Tim Colbath, another member of the working group.  ”So that has brought the Emergency Animal Response Team idea to the forefront.  It avoids animal control all together, but gives us the personnel we need,” he said.

     About half of those filling the seats in the Assembly Chambers were there to support the completion of this project, though at present no pending legislation exists that would create the emergency animal response team.

     Most of the remaining half of the audience was there to voice support for a repeal of Borough ordinance 2011-12, the anadromous streams ordinance.  Fred Braun of Nikiski addressed the Assembly with concerns on behalf of two groups, the Kenai Peninsula Board of Realtors and the Citizens 4 Responsible Waterfront Land Use.

     “Basically, when you’re taking 50 foot of private land from a land owner or home owner who’s maybe owned it for many, many years, it’s a big issue,” Braun said.  ”It’s close to hearts, it’s close to families and kids and grandkids,” Braun told the Assembly.

     The Assembly took no action on that ordinance Tuesday as there were no agenda items related to it.  The Assembly did however pass resolutions certifying borough and municipal election results, another stating support for the Kachemak Bay Water Trail System, and a third outlining the job description for the newly created position of River Center Manager and the Donald E. Gilman River Center.

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