Council considers other planning issues

In other action, the Homer City Council looked at other planning issues. On its agenda and up for public hearing and final action were two ordinances that would change the planning code. One, Ordinance 14-08, would reduce from five to four the number of votes needed to approve a conditional use permit. The council tied 3-3 on that ordinance, and Mayor Beth Wythe broke the tie by voting yes.

In a second planning ordinance, Ordinance 14-09, the council sent back to the Homer Advisory Planning Commission an amendment to that ordinance. It would have liberalized the rules for adding an accessory dwelling on a lot zoned rural-residential, that is, lots more than 10,000-square-feet, and served by city water and sewer. Property owners would no longer need to get a conditional use permit for garage apartments or similar living units.

Council member Beau Burgess added an amendment, and the council approved, that would also do away with the CUP requirement for accessory dwellings on lots more than 1-acre in size. Because that changes what the planning commission recommended, the council sent it back to the commission for its input.

In a public hearing, Jan Jaeger urged the council not to lower the five-vote minimum. She cited a recent planning commission vote denying a CUP for Smallpond Childcare that wanted to build on a lot next to Jaeger on Noview Avenue. That CUP had four votes but failed under the current rules.

“There should be five votes and it should stay that way,” Jaeger said.

In speaking on reducing the threshold to four votes, Burgess said, “People are wanting a more flexible, responsive planning commission. … If you have a code that’s one vote away to get someone to do a reasonable thing with their property, I think we’re placing the burden in the wrong place.”

Council member Francie Roberts said she understood the reasoning behind lowering the vote minimum was because the planning commission sometimes had trouble getting a quorum. She said the council should look at getting commissioners who can attend meetings.

Wythe noted that it seemed odd the planning commission had a higher vote minimum for some actions than the city council. 

In other action, the council:

• Approved appointing Larry Slone to the Library Advisory Board and Glen Carroll to the Vessel Haul-out Task Force;

• Introduced on first reading and moved to public hearing and second reading an ordinance appropriating $11,331.48 for four ToughBook laptop computers for the Homer Volunteer Fire Department, amending it to pay for the computers out of the general fund reserves and not the fire department depreciation fund; and

• Awarded a contract for $4,700 to Paul’s Service of Anchor Point to removed an underground fuel tank at the Homer Airport;

• Awarded a contract to operate the harbor fish grinder to the Fish Factory

The council’s next regular meeting is at 6 p.m. March 10 at the Cowles Council Chambers, Homer City Hall.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at