The proposed ordinance is before the Fairbanks Borough Assembly and will get a public hearing at the January 12 regular Assembly meeting. Here is my original post.
In that post, I had a couple of references to a substitute ordinance proposed by Assemblyman Aaron Lojewski. I did not go into detail about the differences between the ordinance and its substitute or into how ordinances and their substitutes work. My post was already too long.
But Assemblyman Lojewski reached out to me via email and feels I am portraying his actions inaccurately. He has a point. While the wording is my post is technically correct, it is not as accurate as it could be. My apologies to Mr. Lojewski.
Rather than try to fix my original post (which would make it much longer), I am addressing the issue here. I have broken the issue into three parts. The first part briefly compares how proposed ordinances and substitute ordinances work. The second part talks to the specifics of the particular ordinances. Lastly, I have my take on both ordinances.
A Proposed Ordinance vs a Substitute Ordinance
When someone introduces a substitute ordinance, it is not technically an endorsement or rejection of the original proposed ordinance. It is a change to the ordinance. In essence, as Assemblyman Lojewski reminded me, it “amounts to an amendment” of the original ordinance.
So, Assemblyman Lojewski’s proposed support should be viewed as just that, an amendment to the original proposed ordinance. Assemblyman Lojewski did not say whether he supported the original proposed ordinance and I didn’t ask.
Ordinance No. 2022 – 65 vs. Lojewski’s Proposed Substitute
The original proposed ordinance, introduced by Assembly Members Jimi Cash and Tammie Wilson, strips the current requirement for property owners to give an easement to Category A and B Trails in the borough’s Trails Plan upon subdividing their property. It also changes the current law’s wording to give the borough’s Platting Board more leeway in requiring that easement dedication.
Assemblyman Lojewski’s proposed substitute ordinance adds a financial incentive for any property owner voluntarily providing a trail easement: “If a property owner voluntarily dedicates a trail easement, the $400 final plat fee is waived and there is no fee for any lot through which the trail easement passes.”
Assemblyman Lojewski writes: “What this means is for someone who wants more public trail easements, they should view the substitute as an improvement of the main ordinance.”
Later in his email he wrote: “I am a trail user. I am also interested in providing more financial incentives for the public to acquire trail easements.”
My Take: I Agree But I Still Oppose Both Ordinances
I agree with Assemblyman Lojewski that his substitute ordinance is better than the original, but I oppose both. Like Assemblyman Lojewski, I like the idea of incentives to encourage actions to make our community a better place. However, I don’t feel the financial incentives he proposes would do nearly enough to offset the downsides of the ordinance.
I am fully in support of incentives to encourage property owners to allow public access to trails, but not at the cost of the protections we already have. If I believed private property rights were endangered by the current law, I would probably feel differently. But I am confident those rights are amply protected by our current law. Also, the proposed change would affect public as well as private landowners. I outlined my reasoning in my original post.
I hope you agree with me and oppose the original proposed ordinance and the substitute ordinance, but please understand that Assemblyman Lojewski’s substitute is a bit better than the original. Give him credit for that. Again, I apologize to Assemblyman Lojewski and to everyone else for not better representing the situation in my original post.