Comprehensive plan meeting addresses challenges

With Petersburg joining the rest of the state in bracing for future budget cuts, the consultants working on the borough’s comprehensive plan said they’ve already taken a “head on” approach when setting goals.

Much of Wednesday evening’s assembly work session with representatives from Agnew Beck Consulting Firm honed in on challenges.

“We’re not going to have the money in the future we have now,” assembly member Bob Lynn said, adding he doesn’t want the borough to set expectations it can’t meet.

Consultant Shelly Wade said the reality is that the borough may have to consider action it’s not comfortable with, such as another examination of senior tax exemptions with Petersburg’s declining, aging population.

“Helping people think of the future in new ways is a big part of what we’re trying to do,” consultant Chris Beck said.

Another challenge discussed was potential resistance to applying subdivision standards outside of service area one.

When the borough was formed, Lynn said, people outside service area one were told there’d be no zoning.

Beck said the borough should consider setting a high threshold as a person could currently build a rock quarry or auto repair shop with a yard full of cars next to a $450,000 house.

Borough Manager Steve Giesbrecht shared one citizen’s struggles with his neighbors, who block his access. Because it’s a private road, the borough has no authority.

It’s going to become a tough thing for the assembly to deal with, he added, as more and more express concern.

“They want some protection,” he said. “They’re putting a bunch of money into a house and they don’t want something, necessarily, built next to them that could hurt their property value or quality of life.”

When it comes to the waterfront, penned by Moffatt and Nichol, the draft comprehensive plan lists a number of goals. One zoomed in on during the meeting was the potential for work on smaller boats in Scow Bay.

Beck talked about the potential for Wrangell to handle bigger boats and Petersburg to focus on smaller boat maintenance.

Lynn added that someone could make a one stop shop in the bay.

The plan also addresses areas like public facilities and services, such as the community’s schools; potential recreation and tourism opportunities; and economic development, such as finding ways to support Petersburg’s fisheries and build support services for new, attractive jobs.

Next Wade said they’ll be taking information they’ve gathered from this week’s community meetings and a survey with over 300 responses to develop a new draft of the plan — to be released in the next couple of weeks.

There will be a comment period lasting until June 30, and Wade noted they’re aiming to have a final draft ready by October.

“We don’t want to make it a rigid box,” Beck said. It’s meant to provide framework to assist the borough.

Giesbrecht said they could incorporate some of the final plan into the budget building process.

Comments may be submitted online by emailing Wade is also available for questions at 907-242-5326.


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