The Kodiak Island Borough is revamping its codes and regulations and is asking for the community’s input.
Back in 2008 the borough adopted a new comprehensive plan for the future growth and development in the archipelago. Bob Pederson is the community development director for the borough and said it’s common for communities to revisit their land use regulations to help implement those new plans.
Pederson said there are quite a few changes included in the code, but a lot of it has to do with the fact that portions of the current code are outdated.
“Most of the borough code was developed in the lat 60s with the land management aspects and it hasn’t been comprehensively looked at since. There have been a number of amendments and updates over the years – there were a couple of attempts over the years to rewrite the code that didn’t come to fruition. And so in some ways the code is dated. There are terms used in the code that are not defined and then there are defined terms that are not shown elsewhere in the code. Some of the, what I would call, administrative provisions – how you handle and process things – are not clearly spelled out and that’s led to some subjective decision making over the years and sometimes maybe not always the most consistent decision making.”
For instance, portions of the new code deal with regulations for wind turbines and solar panels – things that weren’t around during the 1960s.
“There are also a number of changes proposed – one of interest to people is creating a new downtown Kodiak zoning business district that is similar but a little different from the other business zoning in Kodiak. And attached to that are discussions and options for potentially expanding the exempt area for providing parking downtown. And that’s a pretty big change, potentially.”
Pederson said there’s also a proposed creation of a village zoning district to help reflect the mixed use nature of what happens in the villages. He said that would include all of the archipelago’s villages, except Port Lions, which requested to keep its traditional zoning.
Part of the new code will also allow for new zoning districts in Chiniak and Pasagshak. He said those would be similar to the current rural residential zoning for those areas, but with some differences that would let Chiniak and Pasagshak communities to develop their own identities and zoning rules over time.
Pederson also mentioned a new portion of borough code pertaining to accessory dwelling units.
“Traditionally maybe called a mother in law apartment or a granny flat, but broader than that, that would allow secondary dwelling unit on a property that could be used by family or rented to someone. So there’s a provision in the code now proposed for that – that is not allowed for any of the districts currently in the zoning ordinance so that’s a big change. And then some of the details are what P and Z will be discussing and deciding through the hearing process of how big, how many people, how much parking is required for that and those sorts of things. But that’s a big change.”
Other portions deal with allowing chickens in residential areas and the potential storage of commercial fishing gear as part of a home business.
Pederson said the proposed new code is quite a bit bigger, but folks shouldn’t panic about that fact.
“Clarity comes at a price. And the price of making really clear what the procedure is or what the definition is so everyone understands it and is on common footing just flat takes words.”
To date, the borough’s planning and zoning commission has met 29 times to review the new code, and now it’s the public’s turn weigh in.
A series of public hearings on the new code kicked off last week and more meetings are scheduled for October 22 and 29, as well as November 5. Those hearings will take place at 6:30 p.m. in the borough assembly chambers, and are opportunities for the public to voice their concerns and comments about the proposed code changes.
Pederson said the entire code and all of its related documents can be found on the borough’s website, where online comments can also be submitted.
Even after the public hearings pass, the borough assembly will have the final say on any revised code, meaning the public will have additional opportunities to comment during those meetings and work sessions.
You can hear the full conversation with Pederson by tuning in to KMXT’s Talk of the Rock, Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.