Council knocks off 26-item punch list

With an agenda rivaling a contractor’s punch list of things to do before freeze up, the Homer City Council at its regular Monday night meeting plowed through a 26-item agenda. 

Some of the items, like taxing junk foods and funding design for a public safety building, had been held over from the council’s June 29 meeting. Fourteen items were on the consent agenda — the category for noncontroversial issues likely to pass without objection — but council member Beau Burgess pulled four of them, some because he had a conflict of interest.

Two beach policy items recommended by the Parks and Recreation Commission passed on the consent agenda, but gave a taste of future controversy to come regarding the commission’s nine-month effort to change city beach policy. 

The council passed a resolution supporting the inclusion of city lands in Beluga Slough in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve and another supporting responsible dog ownership by installing dog waste-bag dispensers at city parks and buildings.

Critics of proposed beach policy changes took the opportunity to speak against a likely controversial item, closing or restricting motorized access to city beaches. The commission recommended banning motorized access year-round to Bishop’s Beach and in the summer for the Homer Spit. 

In a presentation June 29 to the council, the commission said the city is caught between state laws banning motorized use on Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat Area land below the mean-high tide line at Bishop’s Beach and private land above the mean-high tide line.

Ted Schmidt said he didn’t want to see the city give away its control of the beach for any purpose.

“I’m a little frustrated that we’re not protecting our public access to our beaches,” he said.

In a Parks and Recreation Commission report, member Robert Archibald said about two-thirds of the people who spoke at commission meetings favored limiting some sort of beach access.

Displaying a bag of sea water containing intertidal creatures, Bishop’s Beach landowner Tom Zitzman urged the council to protect the beaches. He said vehicles are destructive to marine life in tidepools.

“I’m here tonight to ask you to do what’s necessary to protect Bishop’s Beach and the Kachemak Bay Critical Habitat area,” Zitzman said.

Council member David Lewis said Monday he would propose some sort of beach access ordinance at the council’s next meeting on Aug. 10.

“Just because of the work you have done for the past nine months, I felt it was important to bring it forward,” Lewis said to Archibald.

The council postponed action on several items. On a resolution establishing conditions under which Kachemak Drive, Shellfish Avenue and South Slope Drive property owners could connect to the proposed waterlines, the council postponed action. 

The project would connect waterlines currently that are on dead ends. Some Kachemak Drive residents asked that a waterline project happen at the same time as sewer improvements to minimize damage to vegetation protecting the bluff area.

On another water issue, the council sent back to the Homer Advisory Planning Commission an ordinance establishing regulations for lots smaller than 2.5 acres in the Bridge Creek Watershed District. The council deleted language defining impervious uses such as buildings and walkways, but balked at better defining those uses.

The council also postponed action on changing water and sewer rates.

In other actions, the council:

• Appointed Lindianne Sarno to the Cannabis Advisory Commission;

• Introduced on first reading an ordinance accepting a $6,650 state public library assistance grant for books and library materials;

• Introduced on first reading an ordinance changing how public lands are sold;

• Awarded a $22,863 contract to Metalizing Inc. of Kenai for waste water treatment plant clarifier refurbishment;

• Awarded a $13,440 contract for Old Town speed humps to Gregoire Construction;

• Approved a $25,000 contract to Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA for consulting services regarding city insurance plans;

• Awarded a $25,063 contract to Techno Metal Post Alaska for a Public Works storage shed foundation;

• Passed a resolution urging the Alaska Congressional Delegation to engage in negotiations with the U.S. Navy to change Gulf of Alaska training exercises;

• Passed a resolution accepting an Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation grant for phase 1 of the water storage and distribution improvement project;

• Passed an ordinance amending city code regarding site development standards require revegetation;

• Passed an ordinance accepting a $1.9 million DEC matching grant for completion of the water distribution-storage improvement project;

• Passed an ordinance regarding qualification and certification of city jail officers;

• Passed an ordinance appropriating a 2003 Alaska Department of Community and Economic Development fisheries revitalization grant to refurbish a Fish Dock crane;

• Passed a resolution approving a Waddell Way route from Lake Street to Heath Street at Grubstake Avenue;

• Introduced on first reading an ordinance providing a procedure for excluding properties from the Homer Natural Gas Distribution Special Assessment District;

• Approved a memo deferring natural gas assessments for four property owners;

• Passed a resolution noting the insufficiency of a petition for Mattox, Virginia Lyn and Fritz Subdivision road improvements, and

• Passed a resolution authorizing deferred natural gas assessments for lots split by Kachemak Drive.

The council next meets in its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Aug. 10 in the Cowles Council Chambers, Homer City Hall.

Michael Armstrong can be reached at