The borough’s updated comprehensive plan is out for public comment.
Whereas the comp plan developed in 2005 focused on the current state of the borough, its economy and its services, the updated version zeroed in on citizen polling and developing a vision for the future.
Robert Ruffner is vice chair of the borough planning commission. He says that input helped paint an accurate picture.
“Those really do reflect the values people have around here. We don’t want to have much regulation, we want to maintain our freedoms to the extent that we can, but we also don’t want to see damage done to the things that people love and what they like to be around here for. Whether that’s being able to get out on the trail systems or hunting and fishing opportunities that we have here.”
The number one goal in the plan is to diversify the peninsula’s economy. To that end, the plan suggests focusing on two main areas: mariculture and agriculture. A bit further down the list, after commercial fishing, is mining and oil and gas. Ruffner says that focus on mining has a lot to do with the ever-contentious issue of gravel extraction.
“We’re seeing more and more concern, I wouldn’t say conflict, but more concern from the public about, you know, are we treating the neighborhood fairly when a new gravel pit pops up. The folks developing the plan, they’re picking up on that.”
Tourism is another focus area that was given a lot of attention in the new plan, calling for active management and investment in the Peninsula’s abundant recreation opportunities. That also means keeping an eye toward mitigating problems like increased traffic, and also making the borough more pedestrian friendly overall. Another overarching theme is maintaining both economic and environmental health. The draft plan notes healthy watersheds, forests and oceans as a key element in any economic strategy. Ruffner says having those sorts of end goals in mind help planners and policy makers at different levels of borough government.
“That’s where it does come into play and sets the stage for any of those bodies (planning commission, road service area board, etc.) when they make a decision, they can reference back and say yes, this is consistent or no it’s not consistent, and here’s why it’s not consistent with our comprehensive plan.”
Public comments are being taken on the draft comprehensive plan until the end of January. The next version will be presented to the planning commission next month. You can take a look at kpbcompplan.com. We’ll also have links on our website.