Three Bears, monofill and cell towers

Thorny topics discussed at council meeting


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The Chugiak Community Council met to a full house on March 20.

The big topic on everyone’s mind was the proposed landfill.

But first the two Assembly candidates introduced themselves.

Current Assembly member Bill Starr and first-timer Sharon Gibbons are vying for the District 2 Seat C position.

Starr stressed the budget problems and Gibbons stressed education problems.

They briefly answered questions on everything from the proposed monofil to seasonal sales tax to balancing the budget.

Then Three Bears vice-president Steve Mierop and LaQuita Chmlelowski hit the floor for a short presentation on the new store off the North Birchwood exit.

The store is slated to open in July 1.

Three Bears is a combination of supermarket/big box format, with a liquor store section.

Currently, there are seven stores in Alaska, ranging from Tok to the Kenai Peninsula.

Community members voiced concern about liquor availability, especially during off hours.

According to Mierop, the package store (liquor store) typically opens later and closes at the same time as the rest of the store.

“We’ve never had a store that stayed open longer than 10 p.m.,” he said.

Lightning requirements would follow the Municipality of Anchorage requirements and wouldn’t shed over to neighboring properties, he said, noting the store on Knik Goose Bay Road as example.

“The parking lot isn’t a big beam of light that you can see from space,” he said.

The store will employ 60-80 positions. While some employees will transfer in, Mierop anticipates the bulk of positions will fill through local hire.

Council member Maria Rentz gave a quick update on the Chugiak monofill situation and read a letter and subsequent short reply the council received from Assembly member Dick Traini.

Rentz suggested, and the council supported, that community members write letters voicing their concerns about the proposed monofill.

“If they have 200 letters opposed and four for, that would hold a lot of weight,” she said.

She also suggested contacting Eklutna Inc.

“Eklutna is our neighbor. I think we should write them, too,” she said.

Last up, Cindy Coughlin from GCI gave a quick run-down on the proposed telecomm tower at 21500 Baron Drive in Chugiak.

The tower is needed, she said, due to the area’s topography: As you drop down into the neighborhood, cell phone service weakens.

The suggested tower site is near the McKinley utility area, by the small well house.

“I proposed we put a small tower right next to the well pump,” Coughlin said. “McKinley is supportive of the location.”

According to Coughlin, the tower area is heavily treed.

“It won’t be very visible,” she said.

She estimates 45-50 houses are within 500 feet of the tower site.

The site will be 80-feet lower than the utility lines and have a minimal impact on people, she said.

“I’m here to tell you, this little spot is the best-fitted area,” she said. “It’s a gold mine.”

According to Chugiak-Eagle River Assembly member Amy Demboski, cell phones are one of the most passionate issues presented to the Assembly.

The council invited GCI representatives back to the April 17 meeting to talk will residents who might be directly impacted by the proposed tower.

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