Fairbanks borough staff have recommendations on the Fairbanks Comprehensive Trails Plan update for the Platting Board at its May 17 meeting.
At that meeting the Platting Board will vote on recommendations required from it by the Borough Assembly. I wrote about it in this POST on May 13, where I came up with some possible solutions. At the time, I didn’t realize borough staff had already come up with recommendations. They are good ones.
Just to remind you, the Assembly 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 my previous POST for more details.)
You can help. See “Make Your Voice Heard” below.
BOROUGH STAFF ADVICE
You can find the full memo from the borough staff starting at page 175 in the Platting Board’s meeting PACKET. Below I have pasted the most relevant information: a possible motion for Platting Board.
The administration has taken this very seriously. These recommendations have been worked on 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.
Possible Draft Motion
I move 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.
These are excellent recommendations. I fully support them. They offer a solution without getting rid of the easement protections A and B trails have in Title 17. (I will focus here on recommendations #1 – 4, since #5 addresses a less controversial aspect of the Assembly’s guidance.)
I took a different approach to my recommendations, following the guidance of the Assembly more literally. However, if any of the borough staff recommendations result in landowners willingly giving an easement, then that would follow the spirit of the Assembly’s guidance. This is a finite problem. There are a limited number of A and B trails on the Trails Plan that cross private property and don’t have public easements.
Assemblyman Aaron Lojewski told me earlier that he would support funding a borough effort to purchase easements for any A and B trails crossing private land that don’t already have public easements, so the staff recommendation #1 may find enough support, since others would likely support that as well.
I suspect Assembly members would also be supportive of recommendations #2-4, though I’m unsure if they feel those recommendations would do enough to allay their concerns. The big question right now is whether the Platting Board feels those recommendations will satisfy the Assembly’s guidance.
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD
If possible, Fairbanks trail advocates should attend the May 17 meeting, though be warned that it may be a long meeting. There are several other issues the Platting Board has to deal with first that night. You can attend in person or via Zoom (see below).
The meeting will be held in the Borough Assembly Chambers at 907 Terminal Street, Fairbanks. You can testify in person or telephonically. (To testify telephonically you need to be signed up before 5. p.m. the day of the meeting. See instructions below.) The meeting agenda can be found HERE. The relevant ordinance is No. 2022-47.
If you can’t attend, then contact Platting Board members before the meeting either through email or phone. Let them know what recommendations you support.
Go HERE to find a link to the Zoom meeting, instructions on how to “Testify On a Public Hearing,” and Platting Board “Contact Information.”
This is a big step getting the Comprehensive Trails Plan update passed. The next step will again be with the Assembly.