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Zoning and Junk Motor Vehicle Ordinances Pass Following Thorough Amendments

With new members Adam Martinson and Doug Johnson sworn into office, the 2017 City Council poses together.

After essentially gutting ordinances on the agenda, the Nome City Council rezoned multiple blocks of property last night during the regular meeting, but not before they had sworn in new members.

Adam Martinson and Doug Johnson served as Councilmen for their first meeting after taking their oaths of office led by City Manager Tom Moran:

“(part of) The Oath of Office: I will, to the best of my ability, honestly and faithfully discharge the duties of my office of Councilman without fear, favor, or partiality, and therein do justice to all persons and to the City, so help me God.”

Both new members of the Council then had to weigh in on a contentious ordinance to change certain land uses on the Nome Zoning Map. Multiple residents sent letters of opposition to zoning changes regarding their specific property lots, including Edward Stang, who spoke at the meeting:

“I have a packet here, and it says from 5th Avenue to 6th, between Spokane and Steadman, block 111, is going from general use to residential?”

Stang mentioned his plans to build a new dental office at block 111 between 5th Avenue and 6th Avenue off Steadman sometime in the future, but if the zoning change takes effect, then he wouldn’t be able to.

Moran suggested the Council remove that block of property to adhere to Stang’s request while keeping the rest of the zoning ordinance intact.

Councilman Gerald Brown made the motion to amend the ordinance, striking block 111 out of the affected zones as well as removing property MS 2328 on the Nome Council Highway from the ordinance to keep it as industrial. All six Councilmen voted in favor of the amended rezoning ordinance.

Other zoning changes established by the ordinance include making blocks 109 and 110 on 5th Avenue to 6th Avenue from Bering Street to Spokane commercial use instead of general; as well as making MS 686 and MS 687 on the Nome Teller Highway commercial use.

In other amended business, the definition of junk motor vehicles has been narrowed and refined to include passenger motor vehicles or parts thereof. However, if there is an on-premises utility vehicle that is unregistered or uninsured, it can remain as-is for thirty days without being considered a junk motor vehicle.

Then, the Council focused their attention on implementing fines of up to $100 for those who violate the ordinance and store junk motor vehicles in zoning districts other than the Industrial one. Ken Hughes, speaking as a citizen of Nome, proposed the Council not use fines to punish people with junk motor vehicles:

“Something that I’ve suggested that I hope you would take a little more credence to is: how about a buyback program? $50 per car. This wouldn’t prevent you from doing that; however, what this will do is this will make criminals out of a lot of our residents just because they happen to not have enough space to store their car, that they can’t afford parts for, for a little bit because they are just a little bit down on their luck.”

Councilman Brown responded by saying that numerous junk vehicles should not be something the City has to put up with, but he also proposed a more lenient amendment to the ordinance.

After passing Brown’s amendment, the Council approved stipulations that residents cannot store more than two junk motor vehicles in any zoning district. This City law won’t become effective until July 2018. Before adjourning the meeting, the Council entered into executive session to discuss the Alaska Public Employee’s Association and the City’s Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA).

Nome’s City Council will convene again on October 23rd at 7pm for their next regular meeting.

Image at top: With new members Adam Martinson and Doug Johnson sworn into office, the 2017 City Council poses together. Photo: Davis Hovey, KNOM.

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