Monday night’s Anchorage planning commission meeting drew a healthy crowd. About half the people in the gallery were there to speak to an issue that has drawn organized opposition from residents of Chugiak . Commissioner Terry Parks put the item on the table.
“Madame chair, i make a motion on case 2013 068 that we approve the Eklutna master plan for the planned community district. “
Eklutna, Inc. has two permit applications before the planning commission. The first, a called a master plan, would allow Eklutna to develop 68 acres of land the corporation owns within the municipality. The second, for a conditional use permit, would allow Eklutna to use 17 acres of the land as a landfill for inert debris collected from demolished buildings.
Shortly before the meeting, Eklutna’s representative, the engineering firm Dowl HKM of Anchorage, requested the commission postpone discussion on the conditional use request, to allow Dowl additional time to gather hydrological data at the landfill site. But debate on the master plan stayed on the agenda. Parks did not like that idea
“The master plan was put forward, because the landfill is something they wanted to do. And I don’t think that’s exactly what’s been presented here tonight and the way we have looked at it. I will not be supporting my motion. I think that this is a real convoluted approach to a bigger problem, which is the conditional use for the landfill. “
Parks, along with five other commissioners, balked at even considering the master plan, because he said, there is no clear definition of what Eklutna plans to do with the total acreage, with the exception of the landfill area. Commissioner Stacey Dean agreed
“There’s some real issues as to how this has been presented to us and to the public. And to have it as two separate cases, to have one pulled and one kept in place, is not necessarily fair to the process. I almost feel like it is a .. shell game. “
As did Commissioner Jon Spring
“If they are going to go ahead and do all those additional studies, maybe it make more sense for them to proceed with an application for a landfill permit through ADEC, so that we can then review all the information that might be pertinent to this landfill instead of just a scattering of studies that the petitioner thinks are appropriate. “
And commissioner Tyler Robinson
“I also struggle with the need, and I don’t feel that the need (for a landfill ) has been that well defined. “
In the end, the commission voted not to approve the master plan, but for one vote in favor. The conditional use permit for the landfill is contingent on the master plan approval. That’s okay with Maria Rentz, who led Chugiak homeowners’ opposition to the landfill.
“I have to say that six months ago, we didn’t have a chance. It was actually much, much better than I expected. The commissioners voted six to one to oppose the rezone application, which would have included the monofil. I have no doubt that Dowl and Eklutna will be appealing (the decision) to the Anchorage Assembly.”
Rentz calls the decision a step in the right direction
The application for the conditional use permit for the landfill was postponed until such time as the petitioner receives a landfill permit from the state. Dowl’s representative refused comment on the issue at meetings end.