by Phillip Manning ~ September 10th, 2013
The Talkeetna Community Council met on Monday, September 9th at Talkeetna Elementary School. The meeting, normally held on the first Monday of each month, was moved back a week due to the Labor Day holiday.
The agenda started off with normal procedural issues, then moved on to discussion of the South Spur Special Use District, or SPUD. Alex Strawn, Permit Center Manager for the Mat-Su Borough, spoke to the Council and community regarding potential issues with the proposed library. Under the current SPUD, buildings are allowed a footprint of no more than 6,000 square feet. The proposed library comes in at nearly 8,000 square feet. Strawn came with a suggestion that the SPUD could be amended to allow for larger buildings as long as they were designated for “civic use.” After discussion involving many of the observers present, the Council voted to write a letter to the Borough expressing their support for the SPUD change. One council member, G. Denny, voted against the measure, saying that it was an example of a government making rules for private citizens, then allowing exceptions for itself. He suggested a better alternative would be abolishment of the regulations altogether.
Following the SPUD discussion, the Council moved on to correspondence. Many of the items received by the Council were later discussed as regular agenda items. Among those that were not made agenda items was a notice from Patty Sullivan, Public Affairs Director for the Borough, that discussed the new online maps that are available for lands inside the Borough. Those maps are available on the Borough website. The complete list of correspondence is available on the Talkeetna Community Council website.
In the public participation section of the meeting, Dr. Donna Dearman spoke to the Council regarding her candidacy for Seat F of the Mat-Su School Board. She says she has visited thirty-three of the forty-five schools in the Borough as of Monday, and plans to visit the rest prior to the election on October 1st.
Kathleen Fleming announced that the Community Schools program is scheduled to start next week, and reiterated her desire for a community designation embracing diversity. This comes after the Council approved naming Talkeetna as a Purple Heart Community earlier this year.
Following audience participation, the Council moved on to committee reports. Council Chair Cary Birdsall spoke for the Revenue Sharing Committee, and passed on the information that applications for revenue sharing grants will be available on the Council website as well as at the Post Office and Talkeetna Public Library. There will also be a coaching and mentoring meeting for revenue sharing applicants on September 26th. The specifics of that meeting have yet to be determined.
Whitney Wolff spoke for the Susitna Dam committee and informed the Council that a number of conference calls will be held over the next two weeks discussing the ongoing studies at and around the proposed dam site. The September 10th conference covered terrestrial wildlife and botanical studies, and the September 11th call covers a wide variety of topics, including recreation, socioeconomic impact, air, noise, cultural resources, and health impacts. Teleconferences on the remaining studies including fish and water flow will be held on the 23rd, 24th, and 25th. A complete agenda, including information on how to listen in is at the Susitna-Watana Hydroelectric Project website.
John Strasenburgh spoke for the Greater Talkeetna Road Service Area Supervisors. He said that the Talkeetna R-S-A did not receive any calcium chloride this year due to a number of delays. He also said that there are plans for road work for Moose Meadows. Work has recently been completed on Woodpecker, Wolf Track, and Beaver roads. He said that the R-S-A has spoken to Assembly Member Vern Halter to attempt to secure flood relief money from the Borough for Yoder Road, but that there has not been a response from Borough administration. The R-S-A also wrote a letter in support of the changes to the Borough’s subdivision manual, which will require new development to follow stricter standards for stream crossings.
Next, the Council discussed Unfinished Business, which included nominations and preparations for the Talkeetna Community Council election on October 1st. Three seats will be open. The current occupants of those seats are Cary Birdsall, Richard Schreiber, and Mary Farina. Of the three, only Mary Farina is seeking re-election. As of the nomination deadline, there are three candidates for the seats. Mary Farina is running to retain her seat on the Council, and Katie Write and Iris Vandenham are running for the other two seats. There is no bylaw provision for how write-in candidates are to be handled, but since there is a candidate for each seat, the Council decided to defer any action until the Bylaw Committee meets. The election for the Talkeetna Community Council will be October 1st, the same day as the Borough election. Voting will take place at the Talkeetna Public Library.
Sassan Mossanen made himself available for questions regarding two Platting Board hearings that concern new conditional use permits (CUPs) for Twister Creek. One is to bring the existing deck fully into compliance, and the second is for a beverage dispensary license that would allow the building, which now technically hosts two businesses, to house a single, consolidated brewpub. Mossanen says these two requests are unrelated to his efforts to obtain a distillery license. The Council expressed its support for his efforts, especially since his plans include the removal of structures near the alley behind the restaurant.
Also in new business, the Council discussed a letter by Brian Okonek, which asked that they ask the Mat-Su Borough to remove the fence that surrounds the former Talkeetna landfill. The Council opted to find out more from the Borough, but was largely in support of the idea of the fence being removed.
Finally, the renaming of Saddlenotch Road was discussed. Based on the information available, the Council was unable to determine whether the renaming of Saddlenotch to Mechau Circle would apply to the whole road beginning at the intersection with Beaver Road, or if it would apply only to the part of the road in the proposed Redstone Subdivision. They voted to request more information from the Borough before acting.
The meeting adjourned at approximately 9:40 pm. The next meeting is at Talkeetna Elementary on October 7th at 7:00 pm.