Legislature(2017 - 2018)GRUENBERG 120


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Audio Topic
01:33:43 PM Start
01:34:39 PM HB4
02:10:45 PM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Please Note Time Change --
Heard & Held
-- Testimony <Invited/Public> --
                  HB 4-MILITARY FACILITY ZONES                                                                              
1:34:39 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK  announced that  the only order  of business  would be                                                               
HOUSE BILL NO. 4, "An Act relating to military facility zones."                                                                 
1:35:26 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  STEVE THOMPSON,  Alaska State  Legislature, prime                                                               
sponsor of HB 4, stated  the proposed legislation amends previous                                                               
statute  regarding  military  facility  zones.   He  referred  to                                                               
[House Bill 223, 28th Alaska  State Legislature, now AS 29.45.050                                                               
subsection (v)], which created the  ability for municipalities to                                                               
request  a  designation of  a  military  facility zone  around  a                                                               
military  facility.   He  stated that  HB 4  would  fix flaws  of                                                               
current statute.   He explained that a military  facility zone is                                                               
a designated area  around a military facility  which is sometimes                                                               
zoned for economic  development.  Military facility  zones aim to                                                               
economically enhance  the mission of  the military or  reduce the                                                               
cost  of  military  being  in  the  area.    The  zones  are  not                                                               
necessarily  only for  military use;  zones might  allow for  the                                                               
private  industry   to  build   something  advantageous   to  the                                                               
military.   The statute allows  for federal tax credits  and low-                                                               
interest loans for military facility zones.  He remarked:                                                                       
     To   be  designated   a  military   facility  zone,   a                                                                    
     municipality or  borough would have  to request  to the                                                                    
     adjutant general to be allowed  to have this designated                                                                    
     area as  a military facility  zone.   The way it  is in                                                                    
     statute is  that for the  military facility zone  to be                                                                    
     approved by the  adjutant general, it would  have to be                                                                    
     concurrent  ...  and  so   stated  in  the  community's                                                                    
     comprehensive plan.                                                                                                        
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  explained  that city  and  municipality                                                               
comprehensive plans are  only redone about every 10  years - it's                                                               
a big process.   Changing allowances within  a comprehensive plan                                                               
might take a  year to two.   He noted that HB 4  would change the                                                               
existing   statutory   language   to  add   compliance   with   a                                                               
municipality's  "local zoning  ordinances" as  an alternative  to                                                               
"comprehensive plan"  for designating  a military  facility zone.                                                               
This would allow  a project to move forward in  a timelier manner                                                               
without delayed  a year or  two for  a change in  a comprehensive                                                               
plan.   Long delays can  jeopardize the completion of  a project.                                                               
He noted  that HB 4 would  amend statutes so that  a community or                                                               
municipality  could  more easily  move  forward  with a  military                                                               
facility  zone  to  benefit  the   military  and  community  with                                                               
economic development.                                                                                                           
1:39:21 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  RAUSCHER   asked  for  an  example   of  what  is                                                               
currently limited without the bill.                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  stated that  some projects,  which might                                                               
use federal tax  credits or low-interest loans  associated with a                                                               
military  facility zone,  are being  considered.   He noted  that                                                               
Ketchikan has  a naval range  and could  build a new  dock, which                                                               
might keep the  navy there.  Kodiak needs to  replace housing for                                                               
members  of  the U.S.  Coast  Guard  stationed there;  a  private                                                               
contractor could  build the housing  with low-interest  loans and                                                               
federal  tax credits  if the  site was  designated as  a military                                                               
facility  zone.   He stated  that  U.S. Senator  Dan Sullivan  is                                                               
attempting to move a marine unit to the Anchorage area, and F-                                                                  
35s are expected  to come to Eielson [Air Force  Base].  He noted                                                               
that these proposals are examples of  what could be done under HB
4.  The  projects do not have  to be built for  the military, but                                                               
could be anything  that would enhance and  encourage the military                                                               
to stay in Alaska.  He suggested  that a bowling alley close to a                                                               
military  facility would  offer recreational  opportunities.   He                                                               
remarked, "They look  at what is available for  military that ...                                                               
are stationed at  that base. Is it something ...  that would help                                                               
keep them there?"                                                                                                               
1:42:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER noted that he is  a cosponsor of HB 4.  He                                                               
asked which  potential military facility  zones would  have their                                                               
application processes sped up under HB 4.                                                                                       
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  stated that he has  received questioning                                                               
on  the aforementioned  projects, but  no applications  have been                                                               
submitted.   He mentioned  new investments  at Eielson  Air Force                                                               
Base, Clear  Air Force  [Station], and  Fort Greely,  which would                                                               
all necessitate  new housing or infrastructure  and could benefit                                                               
from  this  advantage.    He stated  that  Fairbanks  North  Star                                                               
Borough is  wanting to put  in an  application and is  working on                                                               
its comprehensive plan, which is only redone every 10 years.                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER re-emphasized  that  the Fairbanks  North                                                               
Star Borough  is interested in  [submitting an application].   He                                                               
offered his  opinion that the  projects could be helped,  and the                                                               
proposed  legislation would  facilitate economic  development and                                                               
stabilize the state's economy.                                                                                                  
1:44:01 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SPOHNHOLZ stated  that the aforementioned projects                                                               
seem reasonable and  HB 4 is a great way  to support communities.                                                               
She acknowledged  that comprehensive  plans take  a long  time to                                                               
change, and  she considered  that a  private developer  might use                                                               
local zoning ordinances to bypass a comprehensive plan.                                                                         
1:45:26 PM                                                                                                                    
JEFF   STEPP,   Special   Assistant  and   Economic   Development                                                               
Coordinator,  Mayor's  Office,   Fairbanks  North  Star  Borough,                                                               
testified  in support  of HB  4.   He stated  that the  statutory                                                               
authority  for the  municipalities and  Department of  Military &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs  (DMVA) to create  military facility  zones was                                                               
established by  the 27th  Alaska State Legislature  in 2012.   In                                                               
2014,  House Bill  223 gave  authority for  local governments  to                                                               
seek up to  ten years of full or partial  property tax exemptions                                                               
for  businesses in  a military  facility  zone.   He offered  his                                                               
understanding that  the intent  of [House Bill  223] was  to help                                                               
the  Kodiak Coast  Guard  facilitate a  big  housing project;  he                                                               
added that HB 4 aims to refine the statute.  He remarked:                                                                       
     By  design, [military  facility]  zones are  designated                                                                    
     areas  in close  proximity  to military  installations,                                                                    
     where    increased   industrial    activity,   economic                                                                    
     development,  workforce  development or  training,  and                                                                    
     educational  activities   will  directly   enhance  the                                                                    
     installation's ability to fulfill its mission.                                                                             
MR. STEPP noted that currently,  a military facility zone must be                                                               
consistent  with the  [comprehensive] plan  of the  municipality,                                                               
which might have  broad land use designations and  a wide variety                                                               
of goals  and policies.   The military facility  zone designation                                                               
proposals are specific to locations,  which are generally smaller                                                               
in scale  than the broad categories  of land uses listed  in most                                                               
comprehensive plans.   Comprehensive  plans address a  wide range                                                               
of  land-use elements.   Many  Alaskan communities  have outdated                                                               
comprehensive   plans;  the   Fairbanks   North  Star   Borough's                                                               
comprehensive  plan was  last updated  in 2005.   The  process of                                                               
amending  the  comprehensive  plan  is  lengthy,  expensive,  and                                                               
difficult.   He offered his belief  that the solution is  to make                                                               
[land uses]  more specific.   Zoning is the regulatory  tool that                                                               
identifies the appropriate  uses of each specific  parcel of land                                                               
that may be eligible for a  military facility zone, and it is the                                                               
applicable process for obtaining a land-use permit.                                                                             
1:49:01 PM                                                                                                                    
CHRISTINE  NELSON,   Director,  Community   Planning  Department,                                                               
Fairbanks North Star Borough, testified in  support of HB 4.  She                                                               
stated that  in 2014,  the Fairbanks  North Star  Borough started                                                               
the process of  applying for a military facility zone.   She gave                                                               
an overview  of the  obstacles the borough  faced for  a proposed                                                               
joint unmanned  vehicle technology  research park and  test site.                                                               
This  was  a  joint  venture between  the  University  of  Alaska                                                               
Fairbanks (UAF), the borough, and  the U.S. Department of Defense                                                               
(DoD)  for testing  military applications  of new  technology and                                                               
civilian testing for unmanned vehicles.   A site near Eielson Air                                                               
Force Base  was identified,  but the site  was designated  in the                                                               
comprehensive plan for agriculture and  open space, which was not                                                               
consistent with the  project.  She stated that the  zoning of the                                                               
site  was  general use,  which  is  the  designation of  over  95                                                               
percent of the land area in the borough.                                                                                        
MS.  NELSON explained  that although  the comprehensive  plan was                                                               
updated 11-12  years ago, the  comprehensive plan's  land-use map                                                               
has not been  updated since the 1990s.  She  stated that there is                                                               
not a codified  process for updating the  map; therefore updating                                                               
the map  would involve  developing a  process, codifying  it, and                                                               
then updating  it.  Zoning  is more  specific to parcels  of land                                                               
and has  specific processes -  zoning permits or  conditional use                                                               
permits  - by  which to  evaluate  any development  project.   In                                                               
answer to Representative Spohnholz's  question, she stated that a                                                               
developer "getting  a jump on a  new comp plan" would  still need                                                               
to meet  the zoning requirements in  effect at the time,  even if                                                               
the comprehensive  plan is narrower than  the zoning regulations.                                                               
She  detailed  that  there would  be  requirements,  review,  and                                                               
analysis attached to any proposal  for compliance with the zoning                                                               
1:52:04 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  acknowledged that  inconsistencies between                                                               
the  municipality's  comprehensive  plan  and  the  local  zoning                                                               
ordinances would  be unlikely.   She  asked if  there could  be a                                                               
situation  where   [a  proposal]   could  pass  a   local  zoning                                                               
ordinance, but not pass the municipality's comprehensive plan.                                                                  
MS. NELSON answered that it  could happen.  In the aforementioned                                                               
example,  the general  use zoning  doesn't list  many conditional                                                               
uses.   If  [a proposal]  met the  uses permitted  in the  zoning                                                               
designation, a  zoning permit could  be approved, even if  it was                                                               
inconsistent with the comprehensive plan.   She remarked, "If the                                                               
... use was  listed as a conditional use in  ... whatever zone it                                                               
is,  one of  our criteria  of a  conditional use  permit requires                                                               
consistency  with the  comprehensive plan."   There  is a  window                                                               
with  the  [general  use]  zoning   where  a  proposal  could  be                                                               
consistent  with   the  zoning   but  not  consistent   with  the                                                               
comprehensive plan.                                                                                                             
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX asked whether the  intent of the sponsor is                                                               
to  approve  [a proposal]  that  is  consistent with  the  zoning                                                               
regulations but not consistent with the comprehensive plan.                                                                     
1:54:44 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE   THOMPSON  stated   that  this   complicates  the                                                               
process,  but any  zoning permits  would have  to go  through the                                                               
municipality's  legislative process  to  be approved.   He  noted                                                               
that HB  4 would keep with  the intent [of current  statute].  If                                                               
the  zoning designation  is  general use  and  the proposal  does                                                               
something  similar, then  it wouldn't  violate the  comprehensive                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE LEDOUX  stated that  she was surprised  that there                                                               
could be  inconsistencies between the comprehensive  plan and the                                                               
local zoning  ordinance.  She  asked the  sponsor if that  is ok,                                                               
and what he would like to do.                                                                                                   
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON stated  that HB 4 would  make it possible                                                               
to move  forward with a project.   A project would  be consistent                                                               
with the comprehensive  plan if it is  in a general use  area.  A                                                               
conditional  use permit  could  be used  until the  comprehensive                                                               
plan is  updated to comply  with any addition outside  of general                                                               
REPRESENTATIVE  LEDOUX  stated   that  Representative  Thompson's                                                               
comments seem to be inconsistent with prior testimony.                                                                          
1:57:02 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH  stated  his  concern  that  the  proposed                                                               
legislation  might abbreviate  the public  process; he  commented                                                               
that HB 4 is meant to  cut down on bureaucratic "song and dance."                                                               
He  asked  what  the  process  is for  the  adjutant  general  to                                                               
designate an  area as  a military  facility zone.   He  asked who                                                               
makes  the  request to  the  adjutant  general and  where  public                                                               
involvement is in the process.                                                                                                  
1:58:41 PM                                                                                                                    
MR. STEPP stated  that a borough would submit  the application to                                                               
the  adjutant  general, as  laid  out  statute; the  process  for                                                               
applying  for  a  military  facility zone  is  completed  by  the                                                               
municipality  or borough.   He  recalled  the project  previously                                                               
mentioned by  Ms. Nelson,  which was  initiated by  the Fairbanks                                                               
North Star  Borough.  In  2014, the comprehensive  plan amendment                                                               
process for  the project was  very public.  Any  potential zoning                                                               
change  in  the borough  involves  an  intensive, ambitious,  and                                                               
coordinated  outreach  effort by  the  planning  department.   He                                                               
stated that the public is certainly engaged in the process.                                                                     
2:00:43 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  TUCK drew  attention  to the  list  of considerations  the                                                               
adjutant general shall consider on page  2, lines 12 to 18, of HB
4, which read as follows:                                                                                                       
    (9)   any    plans   or   financial    commitments   of                                                                     
     municipalities to improve the area;                                                                                        
       (10) any plans or financial commitments of private                                                                       
     entities to improve the area;                                                                                              
       (11) the municipality's participation in economic                                                                        
     development activities, including proposals for public                                                                     
     or private development;                                                                                                    
     (12) support from community or business organizations                                                                      
     in the area;                                                                                                               
CHAIR  TUCK stated  his hope  that  the process  would allow  for                                                               
everyone's involvement.   He  commented that  municipalities tend                                                               
to have the plans and financial commitments vetted.                                                                             
2:01:32 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  PARISH noted  that  Mr. Stepp  answered that  the                                                               
borough makes the  request.  He asked if "borough"  refers to the                                                               
borough planning  commission, specifically.   He again  asked who                                                               
makes the request and who approves it.                                                                                          
2:01:47 PM                                                                                                                    
MS. NELSON  responded that the borough  administration would make                                                               
the  request, but  the  planning commission  and  staff would  be                                                               
actively   involved  in   the   community  outreach,   collecting                                                               
comments, and holding community meetings.                                                                                       
2:02:35 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER stated  his belief that the  intent of the                                                               
current  statute  -  AS  26.30.020(c)(1)  -  is  to  ensure  that                                                               
military  facility  zones  comport with  the  local  government's                                                               
expressed desire for how a piece  of land should or should not be                                                               
developed.    He stated  that  this  can  happen  by means  of  a                                                               
comprehensive plan  or zoning.   The comprehensive  plan standard                                                               
is too high  and bars state and local  governments from obtaining                                                               
the benefit offered  by military facility zones.   He offered his                                                               
opinion that HB  4 advances the fundamental goal  of the statute,                                                               
and does so  in a way that still reflects  the local government's                                                               
expressed  desire.   He commented  that the  proposed legislation                                                               
provides  an  option of  using  either  local  zoning laws  or  a                                                               
comprehensive plan;  HB 4 gives  the local  government discretion                                                               
to decide for itself if  an application should follow zoning laws                                                               
or the higher standard of the  comprehensive plan.  He noted that                                                               
the  bill  is  permissive,  not  directive,  and  he  stated  his                                                               
2:03:38 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON stated  that a municipality's application                                                               
for a military facility zone  designation would have to come from                                                               
the governing  body; the  application must  go the  whole process                                                               
before being submitted.                                                                                                         
2:04:10 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE RAUSCHER offered details  of a current discrepancy                                                               
between the  Community of Sutton-Alpine's comprehensive  plan and                                                               
the Matanuska-Susitna (Mat-Su) Borough's  comprehensive plan.  He                                                               
noted  that   an  individual  applying   for  a  change   in  the                                                               
[borough's]  plan would  have  to submit  an  application and  go                                                               
through  the  local  public process.    Afterwards,  an  assembly                                                               
member  would  represent  his/her position  before  the  assembly                                                               
could  change the  plan.   He stated  that a  change in  the plan                                                               
often  goes along  with  a  permit and  may  have provisions  and                                                               
2:05:25 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SPOHNHOLZ   stated  that   her  concern   -  that                                                               
municipalities could  vet and  make a  decision for  themselves -                                                               
was clarified by the previous comments.                                                                                         
2:06:00 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK opened public testimony on HB 4.                                                                                     
2:06:16 PM                                                                                                                    
ROBERT  DOEHL,  Deputy  Commissioner, Department  of  Military  &                                                               
Veterans' Affairs (DMVA),  stated that DMVA supports  HB 4, which                                                               
would  accomplish  what  was originally  intended  with  military                                                               
facility zone legislation.  It  provides for a cost-effective and                                                               
viable means to assure that a  military facility zone is what the                                                               
local   community   determines   appropriate.      The   proposed                                                               
legislation also provides  an effective way to  move forward with                                                               
a proposal.   He  mentioned that  doing a  project at  Joint Base                                                               
Elmendorf-Richardson would  involve redoing a  comprehensive plan                                                               
for a  city the size  of Rhode Island for  a 10-acre site.   This                                                               
would deny the agility and  cost-effectiveness of a project's use                                                               
of  a military  facility  zone.   He stated  that  DMVA can  only                                                               
accept a  military facility zone application  from a municipality                                                               
- not from a private party.                                                                                                     
2:07:14 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE SADDLER asked  for details and purpose  of the 10-                                                               
acre project.                                                                                                                   
MR.  DOEHL  stated  that  he  has  nothing  particular  in  mind,                                                               
although  there  are  various   needs  for  making  parts,  local                                                               
commerce, and residential development.                                                                                          
2:08:29 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK closed public testimony on HB 4.                                                                                     
2:08:42 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON stated  that he's  been in  contact with                                                               
Lockheed  Martin  [Corporation],  which  is looking  to  build  a                                                               
facility in the "Anchorage Bowl."   He remarked that the proposed                                                               
legislation  would be  ideal  for  Lockheed Martin  to  put in  a                                                               
facility to  help the military  with airplanes, which could  be a                                                               
huge economic boom  to the Anchorage area.  He  conveyed that the                                                               
bill would support the military,  help its mission, and lower its                                                               
costs of repairs.                                                                                                               
CHAIR TUCK asked  if there has been any indication  of the number                                                               
of jobs such a facility would provide.                                                                                          
REPRESENTATIVE  THOMPSON  answered  no.     He  stated  that  the                                                               
corporation  was looking  at  putting the  facility  into an  old                                                               
hangar  near a  terminal  at  Elmendorf.   He  mentioned that  he                                                               
hasn't heard from the corporation in about two years.                                                                           
CHAIR  TUCK  asked  if  the proposed  facility  would  require  a                                                               
military  facility zone  designation  if it  was  on the  current                                                               
military base.                                                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE THOMPSON  clarified that the location  in question                                                               
is at the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.                                                                          
2:10:22 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE  SADDLER added  that  the location  is now  called                                                               
"Old Kulis."                                                                                                                    
2:10:35 PM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR TUCK announced that HB 4 was held over.                                                                                   

Document Name Date/Time Subjects
HB004 ver A 1.31.17.pdf HMLV 2/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 4
HB004 Sectional Analysis 1.31.17.pdf HMLV 2/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 4
HB004 Sponsor Statement 1.31.17.pdf HMLV 2/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 4
HB004 Supporting Document-List of Military Projects in Fairbanks Area 1.31.17.pdf HMLV 2/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 4
HB004 Fiscal Note MVA-COM 2.3.17.pdf HMLV 2/9/2017 1:30:00 PM
HB 4