Advisory board renews objections to Carol Creek density changes

Saturday, November 18, 2017 - 16:51

An advisory board representing Chugiak-Eagle River area community councils renewed its objection to plans by the Heritage Land Bank to change the allowable housing density on 92 acres of municipal owned land in Eagle River.

At its Saturday, Oct. 28 meeting at the Eagle River Town Center, the Chugiak-Eagle River Advisory Board voted unanimously to oppose any changes to increase housing density in the Carol Creek Site Specific Land Use Plan.

“Our objection is to the increased density,” said advisory board chair Debbie Ossiander, summarizing the sentiment in the board’s resolution.

The advisory board is made up of representatives from the Eklutna Village, Eagle River Valley, Chugiak, Eagle River, Birchwood, Eklutna Valley and South Fork Community Councils and meets whenever called upon by at least two councils or one of the area’s two assembly members. Six of the seven councils had members in attendance Saturday.

The Carol Creek housing density saga has been going on for more than a year, ever since the HLB — which manages the municipality’s real estate holdings — proposed changing the allowable density on the land from 125 housing units to more than 350 units. The parcel is located roughly between the Mac Center and Fred Meyer in Eagle River.

After vocal local opposition that ultimately resulted in an advisory board resolution opposing higher density, the HLB appeared to have backed off the idea, with real estate director Robin Wright telling the Star in June the proposed development wasn’t going to happen due to economics.

However, the HLB never said it wouldn’t still try to increase the allowable density in the site specific plan through the Planning and Zoning Commission — only that no development was on the horizon. In October, municipal land manager Nicole Jones-Vogel reiterated that there are no plans for residential development.

But the HLB is still proposing to increase allowable density from 120 units to between 201 and 378 units. Jones-Vogel said the change is needed to accommodate possible development in the future, but stressed nothing is currently planned.

“Our intention was to make a plan that allowed for a variety of housing types,” she said last month.

The Planning and Zoning Commission meets Dec. 12 to take up the issue of the site specific plan, which Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility officials say is needed to build a water storage facility. The new tank is supported by pretty much everyone at the community local level — the increased density, not so much.

Ossiander said people were surprised to learn the HLB was still seeking the density change after so much public testimony against it.

“I think everybody was surprised,” she said.

Board asks for sewer rules tweaks

In addition to renewing its objections to increased density at Carol Creek, the advisory board also took up the issue of a proposed re-write to municipal sewer code — which was the stated purpose of the meeting.

Municipal officials have said the re-write is mostly an attempt to streamline and clarify regulations. After about an hour’s discussion centering mainly on relatively minor sewer code issues, the board agreed to pass a three-part resolution asking for “short plat” subdivisions to have less required submittals than large subdivisions; suggesting that restrictions on footings and deck supports near septic tanks should be relaxed from a 10-foot setback to a 2-foot setback; and that a nitrate impact analysis should only be required for wells testing at 10 mg/liter — the state standard — rather than 5 mg/liter of nitrates.

Contact Matt Tunseth at editor@alaskastar.com or call (907) 205-0082.

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