PNZ still working on land use code

Wednesday, February 8, 2012 - 09:38
Ossiander hopes to pass updated Title 21 before end of the year

Debbie Ossiander is sill waiting on the Planning and Zoning Commission.

Ossiander, who chairs the Anchorage Assembly and Title 21 committee, has yet to receive recommendations from Planning and Zoning (PNZ) on the municipal land use code rewrite.

The comission is currently reviewing Mayor Dan Sullivan’s proposed changes, which were released Oct. 19, 2011, long range planning supervisor Carol Wong said Friday, Feb. 3.

In an interview the same day, Ossiander said PNZ told her it will complete its work on Title 21 and give its recommendations and/or proposed changes to the Assembly by June 1.

But the commission hasn’t been meeting its self-imposed deadlines.

PNZ has already postponed a public hearing on Title 21 once, and in all likelihood, it will be delayed again. The public hearing on Title 21 scheduled for Dec. 12, 2011 was pushed back until Monday, Feb. 13. But the comission wants to postpone it until March 12 to give staff more time to familiarize themselves with the 600-page document, Wong said.

The commission indicated its intent to postpone the hearing on its website (

Wong attributed the delay to an influx of new staff in the Planning Department.

“Many of them are new members,” she said. “Right now, for the new members, it’s like, ‘huh?’”

Wong said PNZ is halfway through the 14 chapters of the Title 21 rewrite. The commission’s intent is to be familiarized with the entire document by mid-March, she said.

Ossiander said she’s trying to provide PNZ with additional help to expedite the process. But ultimately, Ossiander and the rest of the Assembly can only hope and wait.

“It’s out of my control at this point,” Ossiander said. “I can’t by code buck the process. I’ve got to let them do their thing.”

Ossiander, who said she was originally inspired to seek office to fix the land use code, has been working on Title 21 her entire eight years on the Assembly. Ossiander said she attended a Title 21 meeting her first week as an assembly member in 2004.

Now, the longtime Chugiak resident is in the final year of her third term and the rewrite still isn’t finished. If the Assembly doesn’t vote on Title 21 before the year’s end, Ossiander said she’ll “throw a tantrum.”

Once PNZ has made its recommendations, Ossiander’s Title 21 committee will present the final version to the assembly for a vote.

Though work on Title 21 — most of which has been provisionally adopted by the Assembly — has been going on for a decade, it’s necessary because once it’s passed it’s the law, Wong said.

“There’s a lot of public process and rightly so,” she said. “Once this is adopted, this will affect how things are developed in the future. It does require care.”

As per her last conversation with PNZ chair Connie Yoshimura, Ossiander said the commission will likely break Title 21 up into chunks, sending her its recommendations three chapters at a time.

However, the Chugiak-Eagle River-specific chapter (Chapter 10) won’t be addressed until PNZ has reviewed the other chapters.

Wong said Chapter 10 will be saved for last because it’s based on the Title 21 rewrite, adding amendments to the way it’s worded.

Though PNZ isn’t currently working on Chapter 10, residents can still voice their opinions on it once a public hearing is held, Ossiander said.

The Consortium of Chugiak-Eagle River Community Councils drafted Chapter 10, and it was introduced to the Assembly on March 8, 2011.

Chapter 10 hasn’t received any attention since.

Planning Department staff were supposed to share comments on Chapter 10 at the PNZ meeting Aug. 8, 2011, however, that didn’t happen.

A motion was passed at that meeting requiring Chapter 10 be on the same level of review as the provisionally adopted chapters of Title 21 by Oct. 3, 2011.

But that didn’t happen either.

The Planning Department told Ossiander it wanted to wait to give its recommendations until Sullivan released his amendments.

It’s now four months after Sullivan’s proposed changes were released, and PNZ has yet to look at Chapter 10, Wong said.


Contact Mike Nesper at 694-2727 or [email protected]

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