A new guide for development in the Badger Road and Salcha areas suggests that the borough develop basic building code standards, boost code enforcement and “work with state and local partners to increase oversight and performance of septic systems.”
The Salcha-Badger Road Area Plan calls for expanding utilities and public infrastructure along Badger Road while maintaining the rural atmosphere in Salcha.
A public hearing and possible vote on the plan are scheduled today at a regular meeting of the Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly.
If adopted, the plan will influence development decisions in years to come in an area with an estimated population of 30,000 people, about a third of the borough’s population.
Most of the area covered by the plan, which applies largely in the 99705 ZIP code, is zoned as general use, the least-restrictive zone in the borough.
The plan suggests maintaining “neighborhood characteristics” in the housing areas adjacent to Badger Road, with light commercial activity along some of the major roads.
A mix of industrial and commercial uses along the Richardson Highway and Old Richardson Highway are suggested in the 42-page document.
Agricultural activities are a priority on the lands near Eielson Air Force Base.
The plan has been about two years in the making and is meant to be a guide for decisions related to “zoning, subdivisions and other land uses, housing, transportation and recreation-related policy decisions,” the plan states.
It’s basically a tool for developers and government planners. If adopted, the plan will be added to the borough’s larger comprehensive land use plan.
“The goals of this plan is to give the FNSB and the community a broad vision and direction to work toward in the coming years,” the plan states.
The proposal is multifaceted focusing on land use, transportation and housing. Dozens of goals and strategies are listed.
Under the transportation portion of the plan, more dedicated public trails and more pedestrian routes are called for.
The plan also suggests improving the road service area model, in which neighborhood taxing jurisdictions are responsible for road maintenance, through consolidation.
Reducing the number of railroad crossings is also mentioned.
“Much of the Salcha-Badger Road area has significant constraints to development, including extensive wetlands and floodplains,” the plan states. “These physical constraints, along with large tracts of public land and barriers like the Tanana River, mean that most future growth will concentrate in existing neighborhoods and existing communities, rather than extending out into new, undeveloped lands.”
The area covered by the plan is the fastest-growing area of the borough, with an estimated 3,300 more people expected to move there in the coming years.
The federally funded planning effort was aimed at helping the borough deal with an influx of people in connection with the buildup at Eielson Air Force Base.
The plan covers about a 20-minute drive in either direction from Eielson’s main gate.
The city of North Pole is not included because the city is covered by a separate land use plan.
Public participation with the plan was extensive. It included multiple open houses, surveys, a project website and a working group that included people who live and do business in the area. A private consulting company was hired to help with the plan.
“I think it’s safe to say the community was very well aware of this planning effort,” deputy planning director Kellen Spillman told the Borough Assembly last week.
The plan has the approval of multiple government panels, including the borough Planning Commission and the North Pole City Council.
The borough collected more than 200 public comments during the process, Spillman told the assembly.
A planning vision statement calls for balancing the small-town nature of the area with an expansion of available services while maintaining an emphasis on personal freedoms and access to recreation.
See the full plan here: bit.ly/2mceEJl.
Contact staff writer Amanda Bohman at 459-7545. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMborough.