Fairbanks Assembly backs code enforcement

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor has a green light actively enforce land use ordinances. The Assembly passed a resolution targeting neighborhood junk yards. The resolution sparked intense assembly debate.

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The resolution sponsored by Assembly members John Davies and Matt Cooper was prompted by complaints the Borough turns a blind eye to unsightly neighborhood junk yards. The sponsors wanted to give the Mayor clear directions to enforce code. In public comments, Jeff Austin said when he heard about the resolution he was in terror.

“It was worse than hearing about terrorist groups operating in Fairbanks,” Austin said.

Austin was worried the borough would confiscate his vintage car and truck collection because they were rusting. But immediately after Austin, Marsha French said she would be equally upset to see the resolution fail.

“I have total empathy for where he’s coming from, but I too, lose sleep at night,” French said.

French said all she wants is to live peaceably, but not see her property value plummet because of a neighbor’s junk.

That divide was echoed in assembly debate.  Lance Roberts called the resolution a step toward tyranny.

“People will be scared to do anything, that they need to bow to the government; they need to kiss our boots,” Roberts said.

Roberts also compared the resolution to the Ancient Roman practice of executing criminals on crosses.

That drew a concerned response from Assembly member Christopher Quist.

“I’m alarmed to hear language like terrorism and comparing Borough code to crucifixion,” Quist said.

Other assembly members pointed out the resolution was a response to residents concerns and thought it was a reasonably balanced between public and individual rights.  The assembly ultimately passed the resolution with only Lance Robert’s dissenting.