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Older Draft of Nome’s Junk Motor Vehicle Ordinance Fails — But Two Newer Ones Move On

Nome City Council member Jerald Brown points to an area of land on the zoning map. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

Rather than finalizing an ordinance last night to prohibit the storage of junk motor vehicles in town, Nome’s City Council decided to start from scratch with a new ordinance defining junk motor vehicles and where they can be stored.

The Council failed a motion to amend Title 18 of the Nome Code of Ordinances and instead passed an ordinance to amend Title 5 and Title 18 with an updated definition of a junk motor vehicle. In addition, the Council voted in favor of prohibiting the storage of junk motor vehicles in all zoning districts, except the industrial one, and implementing fines for any violations.

Both ordinances now go to the second reading phase.

Another ordinance that was in the second reading phase during last night’s regular meeting involved changing the uses of certain land on the Nome Zoning Map. Councilman Tom Sparks, who sat in the Councilman’s chair for the final meeting of his term, stated that perhaps he shouldn’t vote on this ordinance.

“And I need to declare a potential conflict. I’d like you to rule on that because I own property at 703 Steadman Avenue which is up for change from Residential to General. It may affect my property values, and I don’t know if it would be positive or negative, but I wanted to declare a potential conflict.”

Mayor Richard Beneville allowed Sparks to abstain from voting due to his conflict of interest. One of the changes this zoning ordinance included was to rezone Sparks’ property, and others on Steadman Avenue, from residential to general use.

Some members of the Council argued that making this zoning change would not allow the City to remove junk piles off of Steadman, but Planning Commissioner Sara Lizak disagreed:

“Let me be very clear. It is illegal to have junk that is a health and safety issue in our community. That lot that Councilman Sparks is talking about, is a health and safety issue. Changing this area from residential to general is not going to change that that lot is currently a giant zoning violation.”

Before voting on the zoning ordinance, Councilman Jerald Brown suggested that a comprehensive list of affected properties be provided instead of just multiple sheets of color-coded maps. Brown said, “I was looking at the ordinance… there’s got to be a list here of: this area is going from this to this, this area is going from this to this… That’s not in there.”

Ultimately, the Council decided to kick the ordinance down the road to the next regular meeting on October 9th, so as to allow time for a list of all the zoning changes to be put together.

In other business, all Councilmen voted in favor of purchasing a section of the Masonic and City Cemeteries from the Kenai Masonic Lodge for $20,000. Councilman Stan Anderson felt this property would save the City money in the long run.

“To me, $20,000 is cheap, because we’ll be able to, I think, rough estimate, bury at least 70 people there. That’s a lot cheaper than spending several million dollars developing the new cemetery,” said Anderson.

The Nome City Council’s next regular meeting is scheduled for October 9th, Indigenous Peoples Day, at 7pm in City Hall. However, the members of the Council might change before then, as two seats are up for grabs at the upcoming municipal elections on October 3rd.

Image at top: file photo: in 2014, Nome City Council member Jerald Brown points to an area of land on the zoning map. Photo: Matthew F. Smith, KNOM.

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