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Story Last modified at 2:07 p.m. on Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Title 21 land use meeting scheduled tonight

BY MIKE NESPER
Alaska Star

Chugiak-Eagle River's future will be the topic of discussion at a town hall meeting tonight.

The Consortium of Chugiak-Eagle River Community Councils is hosting the meeting from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Eagle River Lions Club to discuss its draft of a separate chapter to Title 21, which regulates municipal land use.

The meeting, which is open to the public, will provide an update on the group's progress related to Chapter 21.10, consortium President Randy McCain said.

"I think it's important for every resident and business owner to come," he said. "It's important that they have the right information in front of them."

Anchorage Assembly member Debbie Ossiander, who chairs the assembly's Title 21 committee, said anyone with an interest in the future of the area has a stake in the discussion.

"If you own land, if you plan to own land, if you think Chugiak-Eagle River should be different from Anchorage, come," she said. "Even if you don't own land but care about what the community looks like, come to the meeting."

Following an informal meet-and-greet, a presentation by consortium planners will take place at 7 p.m. followed by a question-and-answer session. Refreshments will be available.

"It's kind of like an outreach," McCain said. "We want to make sure people have a voice to be heard, pro or con, on where we're at."

Because Chugiak-Eagle River is different from Anchorage, its land use regulations should be different, too, McCain said.

"What's good for Anchorage is not particularly good for Chugiak-Eagle River," he said.

While nearly all of Anchorage's land is used, Chugiak-Eagle River is only about 40 percent developed, said Birchwood Community Council Chair Bobbi Wells.

"Anchorage is at the point of re-development," Wells said.

But that's not true for Chugiak-Eagle River, she said.

"Large lot living is our lifestyle, it's our character," she said.

Wells said compact development is fine where there is infrastructure to support it. But people who live in rural parts of the Chugiak-Eagle River area want to preserve their character.

"Those areas are rural, and they want to stay rural," Wells said. "They expressed that over and over."

Work on the chapter began in 2009. McCain said the consortium believes the document represents the interests of the community.

"People like the way it is in Chugiak-Eagle River," he said.

The consortium, which was created by the Birchwood, Chugiak, Eagle River, Eagle River Valley, Eklutna Valley and South Fork Community Councils, submitted the chapter specific to the Chugiak-Eagle River area to the Assembly, and it was introduced March 8. The consortium is made up of one representative from each community council and an at-large representative.

The Anchorage Planning and Zoning Commission is set to hold a public hearing on the chapter Aug. 8. at 6:30 p.m. in the multipurpose room of Gruening Middle School. Planning and Zoning will then make its recommendation on the chapter before it goes before the Assembly for a vote. No date has been set for the Assembly vote, Ossiander said.

While development is inevitable, Chugiak-Eagle River residents should have a say in what that development is, McCain said.

"Change is coming, but it's important it's the right change for the community," he said

Contact Mike Nesper at mike.nesper@alaskastar.com



This article published in The Alaska Star on Wednesday, July 27, 2011.