Last night the Fairbanks Borough Platting Board adopted the administration’s recommendations on advice to the Borough Assembly regarding the Fairbanks Comprehensive Trails Plan update.
As a reminder: the Borough Assembly had directed the Platting Board to “provide at least three alternative ways of connecting A and B trails without forcing landowners to give up their property through the platting process.” (Check this POST for more details.)
After a lot of discussion, the Platting Board passed recommendations that had been crafted by Mayor Bryce Ward, Director of Community Planning Kellen Spillman, and Bryant Wright, former Borough Trails Coordinator who is on a temporary contract with the borough for this issue. See this POST about the recommendations.
The Platting Board voted:
to recommend to the FNSB Assembly approval of Ord. 2022-47: An ordinance adopting the updated Comprehensive Recreational Trails Plan as an element of the FNSB Regional Comprehensive Plan with consideration of the following four (4) implementation strategies and one (1) recommendation on mapping:
- Amend the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) “FNSB Public Community Trails Program” project (AKA the “Trail-a-Year Program”) to specifically prioritize acquiring easements on Category A and B trails in the newly updated trail plan.
- Amend the FNSB Land Management Code, FNSBC 20.12.020, to develop a more streamlined process explicitly allowing for the FNSB Administration to acquire trail easements for trails in the updated Trails Plan when fair market value is being offered without additional assembly approval.
- Amend the FNSB Budget to allow for a fee waiver for Final Plats on subdivisions that are dedicating trail easements per FNSBC 17.56.040(A). This could be a free final plat or a reduced cost final plat.
- Consider the option of having the FNSB clear and brush trail easements when subdividers are re-routing a trail easement covered in FNSBC 17.56.040(C).
- Publish adopted Trail Plan alignments on the Borough’s online Interactive GIS Map.
Now the Trails Plan update goes back before the Assembly on June 8. The recommendations did not directly follow the Assembly’s instructions, so it will be interesting to see how the Assembly will react. In fact, Assemblywoman Tammie Wilson attended the Platting Board meeting and testified before the board, speaking for herself not for the Assembly.
Wilson was not opposed to the recommendations that ultimately passed. In fact, she said she supported the borough proactively trying to solve potential problems that might arise from the Trails Plan update. However, she brought up an issue about a portion of Title 17, the borough’s subdivision code (law), that the Assembly had tackled earlier. The current code wording resulted in the Assembly’s direction to the Platting Board.
Here is the current law (bold word mine):
On lands through which Category A and B trails pass, the Platting Board shall require the dedication of easements to conform to the adopted comprehensive recreational trail plan.17.56.040 Trail easements
Some Assembly members, including Wilson, feel that requirement unjustly takes land from landowners. I disagree and have written about that HERE.
The Assembly members who don’t agree with that wording tried earlier to get that requirement struck from borough code by passing an ordinance that would have changed “shall” to “may” and by adding the words “if the property owner consents.” However, Mayor Ward threatened to veto that, in part because the Assembly did not first run it by the Platting Board for its recommendations. The Assembly then voted down the ordinance by a 5-4 vote. You can read about that HERE.
One of the Platting Board members (I’m not sure who, since I was listening in via Zoom) moved that the board recommend that the Assembly change “shall” to “may” in that section of Title 17. There was considerable discussion about that, but ultimately the Platting Board voted that down.
The next step will be when the Assembly again takes up the Comprehensive Recreational Trail Plan update at its June 8 meeting. I will have a post or two leading up to that meeting.