City code permits allows a developer to create a planned unit development (PUD) with “flexibility” in restrictions or guidelines in code or the Comprehensive Plan most projects must follow. In other words, it is a giant loophole for developers.
Doyon’s Lighthouse Village project takes advantage of this loophole—buildings inside the 40-feet shoreline exclusion zone, hotel building height nearly double the 35-foot limit, and square footage footprint significantly more than allowed on lots this size. The development would also block much of the view of the Bay and make the meandering public trail access on the B Street ROW into a narrow boardwalk with virtually no trees.
Despite their glowing talk about open space and green development, this project is so tall and densely packed, it is in no way fitting for this site next to a world-renowned bird conservation area. It would nearly completely block the view of the Bay, lagoon, and mountains. The base of the Spit is not the place for a PUD that violates many important codes and guidelines for community development.
However, the plan is not set in stone. The Council and planning commissions must have the fortitude to ask for changes that will make this a compatible and acceptable development. They do not have to accept a development out of step and compliance with our expectations.
Doyon’s vice president, Patrick Duke, says, as reported in the Homer News, “We will respond however this commission wants us to respond. If you come back to us and say, ‘We will not grant you this footprint today,’ we’re obviously going to go back and we’re going to sharpen our pencils and figure out what does work.”
The Planning Commission, Homer City Council, and the KPB Planning Commission all need to deny the CUP, the rezoning, the replat, and the vacation of the B Street ROW. When this project is scaled back, moved 40 feet away from the shoreline, reduced in height to the same 35-foot scale most all other buildings have complied with, and downsized the hotel/restaurant/bar to meet the footprint size restriction, the project should be reconsidered. Hopefully the revised project will provide more open space next to the shoreline along with an equal or better bird viewing platform and pedestrian path up B Street ROW with a much wider buffer for the adjoining residential neighborhood.
If Doyon wants to be embraced by the community, the whole project should be re-visioned to fit into the long-standing local effort to protect the environment, aesthetics, viewshed, and natural resources that we have come so much to depend on. These values have made Homer into a place different from so many other places that have gone overboard on development. We want to be Homer, not just anywhere USA.
Nina Faust is a retired high school teacher and community activist. An active outdoor person she spends everyday photographing the natural world.