Updated: May 1
Mokie Tew just can't give it a break.
On May 1, the Mat-Su Borough Planning Commission will again take up the gravel ordinance (OR 23-033) at their meeting starting at 6pm on whether to recommend the Assembly adopt it or not. At issue is them amount of gravel that can be extracted without a public hearing by nearby neighbors, community councils, and road service districts. HOWEVER, this time, there are two competing resolutions - one that recommends the Assembly approve the ordinance to raise the limit 5 times from 2,000 to 10,000 cubic yards (1,000 dump trucks) with no public input AND one (Resolution 23-19) that recommends the Assembly vote this ordinance down and instead keep in place the current system which allows for public input but without a public hearing for extraction of 2,000 to 10,000 cubic yards. That means that a gravel pit can be put right next to your home without a public hearing.
There are some nuances, but the gist of the Planning Commission Resolution 23-19 is the current system is working and the public deserves a right to have input. This will just be an advisory vote to the Assembly. Then, on May 16, the Assembly is likely to take the gravel ordinance up - hopefully for the last time - for a final vote. That meeting will start at 6pm. We'll keep you informed.
Assemblyperson Mokie Tew originally introduced an ordinance in December 2021 to change the amount of gravel extracted from 2,000 to 20,000 cubic yards without any public hearing. That was rejected and in February this year, he re-introduced a second ordinance (OR 23-033) that would exempt gravel pits from extracting up to 10,000 cubic yards with a. That was resoundingly rejected at the Assembly meeting by citizens, road service advisory boards, community councils, and water services boards. The Assembly tabled OR-23-033, but a version of it survives with amendments and that version has gone to the Planning Commission. Tew was the subject a recall in 2022, but the Borough clerk rejected it. Several letters to the Commission have said that Tew or his family have a financial investment in gravel extraction although Tew has denied this
Assemblyperson Robert Yundt, who owns a construction business, said that the public is confused on this ordinance and amendments, in spite of the withering attacks on OR 23-033.
The Planning Commission decided on April 17 to postpone the vote for the purpose of coming up with a recommendation to the Assembly regarding the legislation. So, there is now a Resolution before the Commission that 1) recommends failure of OR 23-033 and that 2) proposes increasing the Administrative Permit to 10,000 cubic yards, with limited public input. This Resolution varies from the original bill in that it recommends increasing the Administrative Permit extraction limit from 7,000 cubic yards to 10,000 cubic yards. So, rather than prescribing a “Registration” process it requires an Administrative Permit. Under the current Administrative Permit procedure notification of the proposed site is only within one-half mile of the site, without a public hearing.
You Can Make Your Voice Heard
The next meeting of the Planning Commission is tomorrow, Monday May 1. Public testimony will be heard under Audience Participation before the vote on the Resolution is made. Please consider giving your comments at the meeting, or by phone.
You can participate in the meeting:
IN PERSON: You will have 3 minutes to state your oral comment.
• Dial 1-855-290-3803; you will hear “joining conference” when you are admitted to the
• You will be automatically muted and able to listen to the meeting.
• When the Chair announces audience participation or a public hearing you would like to
speak to, press *3; you will hear, “Your hand has been raised.”
• When it is your turn to testify, you will hear, “Your line has been unmuted.”
• State your name for the record, spell your last name, and provide your testimony
See some of the scathing comments sent by email to the Commission, some accusing Tew (again) of having a vested interest in gravel extraction.
Here are some talking points:
The current process is working. Why is this change necessary?
The limited public notification under the Administrative Permit is not adequate for 10,000 cubic yards of extraction. The public (not just those within 1/2 mile) should be guaranteed to have a voice in the location of a pit and the requirements under which the pit will be operated. Organizations such as Road Service Boards and Community Councils should have the opportunity to comment.
The Planning Director should not have the authority to issue an administrative permit without a public hearing.
The Resolution, if passed by the Planning Commission, will be Introduced at the Assembly meeting on May 2nd, and likely considered by the Assembly on May 16.