Member of the Associated Press T H E D A I L Y S E N T Tuesday, September 22,1992 Volume 54 No. 184 Sitka Alaska 50c Changes in Works For City Incinerator At left, SS Construction gravel pit off Halibut Point Road. (Photo provided to the Sentinel by Roger Sudnikovich) Planning Panel Paves Way for Land Bid By HEATHER MacLEAN Sentinel Staff Writer The Sitica Planning Commission Monday night took action to set the stage for another auction of a 3.04- acre parcel of city-owned land located upland from the SS gravel pit off Halibut Point Road. The commission members voted to rezone the city land from Residential-! to Industrial, and the SS subdivision, where the gravel pit is located, from Commercial-2 to Industrial. The commission also .unanimously approved .the subdivision of the property creating the separate 3. 04-acre tract to be auctioned. In June and July the commission laid the groundwork for a previous auction of the property. When the auction was held, nearby property owner Vaiorie Nelson submitted the winning bid of $100,000. The sale had been held at the request of Roger Sudnikovich, who wished to obtain the property in order to expand his adjoining gravel pit. But after Nelson topped Sud- nikovich's last bid of 595,000, she refused to complete the transaction, claiming the rezoning and subdivision process had been faulty. After she filed an administrative appeal of the sale, City Attorney Theron Cole advised the City and Borough Assembly last month to cancel the land transaction and start the sale procedure from scratch. Planning Director Wells Williams told the commission members Monday that the city probably was being "over-cautious," but that taking "time to do the process again is easier than getting into a court battle with Nelson over whether or not proper procedures were followed. In other business Monday, the commission members rejected a text amendment change to the zoning ordinance that would restrict the establishment of bed and breakfasts in R-l areas, and reviewed several requests for conditional use permits for bed and breakfasts. The members also voted to revise the definition of family and quasi-institutional homes in city code to bring the code into compliance with the Federal Fair Housing Amendment Act Doris Bailey, Connor Nelson, Dede Preuss, Bert Stedman and Commission Chairman Larry Nelson were present at the three-hour meeting. Land Sale The commission members voted 4-0 to create the 3.04-acre lot upland from the SS gravel pit to be sold in public auction. Connor Nelson, who is married to Vaiorie Nelson, did not take part in discussions to avoid an appearance of conflict of interest, Williams said the land is 300 feet by about 441 feet, and most of it is on a steep grade. Stedman said he was interested in No-Trawl Zones Urged For Sea Lion Rookeries ANCHORAGE (AP) -- Government biologists concerned over the continued decline of Steller's sea lion have recommended expanded no- trawl zones at key rookeries. The sea lion, which lives in waters fished by Alaska's bottom-fish industry, is classified as a threatened species. A summer survey released Monday by the National Marine Fisheries Service recommended expanding a no- trawl zone to help protect the sea lions. The survey -- the most ambitious ever undertaken by federal biologists -- found a 4.7 percent dip in the number of sea lions counted off Alaska this summer compared to 1991. The sea lion population has fallen more than 70 percent off Alaska since the early 1970s. The decline already has triggered federal action designating the sea lion as a threatened species entitled to special protection. This year's rate of decline was far more modest than the sharp downturns in the 1980s. Some regions, such as waters off the eastern and western Aleutian Islands, actually showed population increases compared with 1991. But the overall count of 34,835 sea lions is down from 36,459 in 1991, said Richard Merrick, a biologist who presented survey findings to a group advising the North Pacific Fishery Management Council. Any downturn is bad news to fishing industry officials. So far the sea lion's population collapse is a mystery. A remarkable series of studies in 1992 included satellite tracking of 'young pups, analysis of sea lion scat and sampling of fish that sea lion are believed to prey on. These surveys indicated the problem lies with young sea lions that leave rookeries and haul outs and never return. "Now the problem is what's causing the juveniles to die," Merrick said. Studies indicate that the young sea lions generally are shallow divers as they search for pollock and other fish. Pollock also are sought by the trawl fleets that intensively have fished many of the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea areas favored by the sea lions. But the trawl fleet drags nets at much greater depths than the shallow zone frequented by the young sea lions, Merrick said Monday. Biologists have repeatedly suspected -- but never confirmed -- that intensive fishing is a cause of the sea lion's decline. Merrick said young sea lions may be weakened by a lack of food, then done in by disease or the rigors of North Pacific survival. Last winter, for the first time ever, the government banned trawling within 20 miles of five major rookeries. And this year, the national fisheries service proposed adding a sixth rookery to the list. That recommendation concerned several members of the fishing advisory group. They said the zone was rich in cod, and putting it off-limits would increase competition elsewhere. Fishermen fear weak population figures for sea lions could prompt the federal government to designate it endangered and order much more wide- ranging protection measures. dealing with the matter quickly because the commission members accepted testimony in June and July and no one, except Vaiorie Nelson, was contesting the move. The commission members also voted 4-0 to rezone two lots in the,SS subdivision from C-2 to Industrial. Williams explained that the area was zoned 1-2 Industrial and Mobile Home Park in the 1960s, but in 1986 when the city rewrote the zoning code, a mistake was made and the zoning" was changed to C-2. The zone change, Williams noted,, was not initiatedÂ·Â· or approved by the planning commis"- sion. Sudnikovich said he had no idea until recently that the area had been rezoned six years ago. Vaiorie Nelson told the commission she thought rezoning the area would constitute spot zoning because no areas around it are Industrial. However, Williams said this mom- ing that the land across the highway, the site of Halibut Point Marine, is zoned Industrial. Changing the zoning of the gravel pit just continues the Industrial zone up the hill, he said. "It clearly was not a spot zoning," he said. Nelson added that there is no real hurry to rezone the area because Sud- nikovich already is working on the city land. Smith said this morning, however, that the city is allowing Sudnikovich to access his own gravel pit through the city land, but he is not quarrying on city property. Sudnikovich has said he does plan to quarry rock on the site, but only if he first purchases the land. The commission also voted 4-0 to rezone the 3.04-acre city parcel from R-l Single Family and Duplex to Industrial The parcel will be returned to R-l if it is not sold. Stedman pointed out that R-l is one of the most restrictive zones and Industrial the least, but the change was necessary in order to sell the land. The terrain is too steep for a residential area. He noted that most city land not in use is zoned R-l and called it a "holding zone." The practice enables the city to maintain control over the zoning when a purpose for the land is eventually determined and it is sold he said. In a related move, the commission agreed to waive the requirement that the city provide a topographical^ map for the 3.04-acre lot as allowed in zoning code. Williams explained that topographical maps are required in areas that might eventually be zoned Residential because it is important for the planning commission to determine if the grade of land is suitable for building. Since there's no question the area is too steep to be made residential, he said, the topographical map is not needed and would be a waste of city funds. However, Vaiorie Nelson said she would be interested to see the topography of the land because it would provide valuable information. ... I think the public has aright to know." She added that she thought the board should proceed with caution when dealing with the land because of the administrative appeal she has filed. Williams pointed out that the city was moving cautiously by going through the subdivision and rezoning process for the second time. Text Change The commission unanimously rejected a text amendment that would restrict the establishment of bed and breakfasts in R-l zones. Continued on Page 8 State Proposes Change In PermaFund Eligibility JUNEAU (AP) -- Some Alaskans would have to take shorter out-of-state vacations to collect their annual Permanent Fund dividend under new rules proposed by the state. The Revenue Department wants to reduce the time residents seeking dividends are allowed to be out of state, from six months to five months a year. The proposed rule would not limit time Alaskans can be out of the state for college, military service or work in the Peace Corps. The six-month limit was set about two years. It was adopted after retirees complained that a previous four- month rule unfairly limited the time they had to travel, said Tom Williams, director of the Permanent Fund Dividend Division. "That seems to be the upper limit in terms of what seems to be reason- awe, Williams said Monday. "But then we've had folks who have said, Gee that seems to be an awful long time.' We're trying to find the right balance." The six-month limit may allow seasonal workers who consider their homes to be in other states to collect dividends legally, he said. The division plans to hold a statewide teleconference hearing from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday to hear public comment on the proposed rule and others. Written comments also will be accepted through Oct. 12. The hearing will originate from the legislative information office in Anchorage. Testimony will also be taken from the legislative information offices in Bethel, Fairbanks, Juneau, Soldotna, Ketchikan, Kodiak, Kotzebue, Nome, Sitka and Wasilla. Williams said he had no figures on how many people would lose their dividends if the six-month, or 180- day, limit drops to five months, or 150 days. The division also is proposing to allow direct deposit of dividends into bank accounts. That would speed dividend payments and save the state money by reducing mail and printing costs, Williams said. State officials are negotiating the details'with Alaska banks, he said. Williams said the division hopes to adopt the new rules by Dec. 1 so they can be in place Jan. 2 when the state begins accepting applications for 1993 dividends. Dividends from interest on the state's oil-wealth savings account are paid annually to all Alaskans who apply and meet residency requirements. Last year's dividend was $931.34. This year's amount will be announced Oct. 1. By WILL SWAGEL Sentinel Staff Writer The municipal solid waste incinerator is to be improved and its burning capacity greatly increased, city officials said Monday. A steam generator to be installed on site will produce the electrical power to run the incinerator, and a second electrostatic precipitator will double the burning capacity, said Public Works Director Dick Smith. In the process, paniculate emissions are to be further reduced. The expansion in disposal capacity is needed to comply with federal rules requiring the city to accept refuse offered by cruise ships as well as with increasing amounts of household waste, and also to increase the incinerator's overall efficiency, Smith said. The Sitka incinerator improvements were outlined in the latest issue of "Bioenergy News," a monthly newsletter produced by the Alaska Energy Authority. The newsletter said Sitka "continues to cut the leading edge in waste-to-energy operations in Alaska." Officials said the new improvements would cut in half the present level of particulate emissions, which are already well within the allowable levels in federal and state environmental regulations. Smith said the incinerator presently puts out .02 grains per dry cubic foot of stack gas, one- quarter of the .08 grains allowed for municipal incinerators, and 80 percent below the .10 grains allowed for energy-recovery facilities. The steam turbine powered generator also will save the city half the present 550,000 annually spent for electrical power to run the incinerator, as well as making that much more municipally-generated power available' for other uses, Smith said. The energy authority newsletter states the Sitka incinerator is one of the smallest \yaste-to-energy operations in the country, processing about 25' tons of municipal waste and sewage sludge per day. Under an operating agreement with Sheldon Jackson College, the heat is recovered to heat the college campus buildings. The incinerator has two boilers, each capable of disposing of 25 tons of waste per day. But with only one electrostatic precipitator installed, only one boiler can be used at a time. Smith said this causes a backlog of garbage accumulate in the summertime, when collections run 20 percent higher than in winter. Steam generation potential, presently 4,000 pounds per square inch per hour, will be doubled when both boilers are operated at once, Smith said. The newsletter said that in the event more heat generation should be needed at times of low garbage collections wood waste or shredded tires could be burned, but Smith said he did not expect the city to do that. The back-pressure steam turbine to be installed will have a generating capacity of 90 kilowatts of electrical power. Â·Smith said the improvements are expected to cost about $500,000, and the city has received state grants of $370,000 to cover part of it, Sheldon Jackson College is to install the steam turbine generator, and the rest of the work is to be bid out, Smith said. The public works director said the relatively small size of the Sitka incinerator makes it ideal for' testing new technologies, because it is the size of a pilot program and yet achieves practical objectives. The city is presently negotiating with Air Products and Chemicals Inc. of Allentown, Perm., in an experimental use of an oxygen enrichment of the firing process, which is expected to provide a hotter and cleaner bum of wet trash and sludge. The incinerator already has served as a test site for a firm evaluating the Â· use of bicarbonate of soda 10 neutralize acid gases. Two Separate Fires Hit City Shops, Fishing Boat By SHANNON HAUGLAND Sentinel Staff Writer Sitka firefighters were called out on two fires last night, one on the F/V Four Winds in ANB Harbor early this morning and the other at the city electrical department shops Monday night. There were.no injuries. Sitka Volunteer Fire Department Chief Doug Karpstein said the boat fire resulted in an estimated S30 000 to $50,000 damage. The electrical department had not computed the damage from the shop fire, which Karpstein said may have been started by a light tester. The fire damaged an area of about 20 square feet in the shop, the chief said. Karpstein said the city shop fire was reported at 9:51 p.m. by a caller on 911. When the fire truck arrived, flames were coming out the window. Rob McGraw, a public works employee and former volunteer firefighter, broke down the door to the shop to Continued on Page 8 Libertarian, Taxpayers Parties to be on Ballot? By BRIAN S. AKRE Associated Press Writer JUNEAU (AP) -- The Libertarian and Alaska Taxpayers parties apparently will get their presidential candidates on Alaska's general election ballot, even though their petitions were submitted late and may lack enough signatures. Both parties submitted petitions to gain state certification as limited political parties, with the right to have their candidates for president and vice president on the Nov. 3 ballot. The Libertarians filed the minimum number of voter signatures on the Aug. 5 deadline, but the state Elections Division rejected the petition because some of the signatures were not'those of registered voters, officials said. The following week, the party submitted more than double the signatures needed. The petitions were rejected for being late, and the Libertarians sued the division in state Superior Court to have the deadline changed. The Alaska Taxpayers Party, affiliated with the U.S. Taxpayers Party, missed the deadline altogether. When it tried to submit its petitions late, the division refused to accept them. The party then filed a separate lawsuit challenging the deadline as arbitrary and unfair to third parties. On Thursday, Judge Mark Rowland in Anchorage agreed with the parties and ordered the division to count the signatures and certify the petitions if they otherwise comply with state law. Once the petitions are certified, the candidates are to be placed on the ballot. The state argued that it would not have enough time to verify and count the signatures before the different bal- lots for each election district could be printed. The printer's deadline was Sunday, division spokeswoman J.C. Shine said. As a result, there is a chance that the petitions will not be certified, but the candidates will appear on the ballot anyway, she said. "If there aren't enough valid signatures, then we will not be certifying them," Shine said Monday. "Bui we're in a really tough spot here. In terms of getting the ballots printed, everything was due yesterday." The division has been working seven days a week and evenings to complete ballot counts from the Sept. 8 primary election and to prepare for the general election, which is just six weeks away. Division director Chariot Thickstun Continued on Page 8 STA Manager Adams Resigns By Sentinel Staff Sitka Tribe of Alaska General Manager Gus Adams has left liis post and STA officials are looking for a replacement, Tribal Council Chairman Peter Esquiro said this week. Esquiro said the STA tribal council had differences in operating expectations with Adams and elected not to make his probationary hire a permanent one. Adams has been with STA since February, Esquiro said. He said the closing period for applicants in the new search is Sept. 30. STA, formerly the Sitka Community Association, is Sttka's federally- recognized Indian tribe, formed in the 1930s.
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