City council fails to advance zoning

by Ben Matheson on January 29, 2014

BRHS wrestling team honored by Bethel City Council. Photo by Ben Matheson.

BRHS wrestling team honored by Bethel City Council. Photo by Ben Matheson.

The Bethel City council did not advance zoning of the Kasayuli and Larson subdivisions at its regular meeting Tuesday.

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The subdivisions were slated to be zoned under a category called residential planned unit development and that led to some confusion on the council about the ability of the city to place a zoning overlay on the neighborhoods.

It gets complicated, but in city code, residential planned unit development is considered an overlay on top of existing zoning. Neither subdivision is currently zoned.

The council considered delaying until property owners were notified but that failed and the zoning was ultimately not introduced. The city attorney, Patty Burly, noted that the city should be careful on the legal ramifications of the zoning.

“My recommendation would be to put the zoning and perhaps then do the planned unit development. Litigation has been very hard and heavy on planned unit development over the past few years and I would hate to have that happen to us,” said Burly.

If the process incldues changing city code to create categories compatible with current development, that could take many months. Councilman Eric Whitney said that’s perhaps a route the city will have to go.

“What it sounds to me, if we want this to get zoned, we are going to have to come back to the BMC and change that and deal with that. This process may take six months, but that may be the way to go,” said Whitney.

Vice Mayor Rick Robb said he hoped the zoning would go through the planning commission before coming back to the council in a more cleaned up form.

The city manager was not at the meeting due to illness, but he had requested a $22,000 budget modification to pay for new carpeting in the courthouse. The council was unsure whether the work is already complete or if it was forthcoming, but they did not approve it last night. Here’s Vice Mayor Rick Robb.

“I guess my concern is that administration spent $22,000 that wasn’t budgeted without council approval, that’s a big no-no, if there was no crisis or emergency, if you’re telling me we can do it next spring and we’re seeking approval… but if it’s already done, to me this is raising a question,” said Robb.

The council did not advance a contract at this meeting between the city and DOWL-HKM for a lack of a second. That would be for management services of the small boat harbor bank stabilization project. They did advance a contact with CH2M-Hill to update the institutional corridor feasibility study.

The council introduced three ordinances provides clarification of the fines, including for smoking in areas where it has been banned. With new language requiring flat fees, the city would not have to send people to a mandatory court appearance, they could simply pay the fine.

The council also honored the state champion BRHS wrestling team, which was in attendance last night.

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