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Fairbanks North Star Borough seeks public comment on hazard mitigation plan

Published: Jan. 15, 2021 at 4:26 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough is requesting public comment on a draft of its Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan.

The plan, last updated in 2014, is designed to “reduce or eliminate long-term risk to people and property” in the event of a natural disaster, according to the borough website.

Baird Stiefel, Emergency Manager for the borough, explained that two new types of hazard were added to this year’s draft of the plan.

These are Cryosphere, which involves permafrost and other soils prone to frost jacking, and Ground Failure, which includes landslides and hill erosion.

The plan has also been updated to account for new housing developments in the interior. “For example, there was a significant change in housing development in the area with the F-35 bed down, and North Pole had kind of a building boom compared to the last one, especially with multi-occupancy buildings,” Stiefel said.

According to Stiefel, once the public comment period has ended and the draft is finished, it is then submitted to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for approval. Once FEMA approves, the plan then goes back to the borough, as well as the Cities of Fairbanks and North Pole, for implementation.

Stiefel said he thinks mitigation is one of the most cost effective means of reducing disaster risk and loss. “Having a good mitigation plan, with proper land-use planning, preventing construction in known hazard areas, reducing the risk, having insurance, building buildings to standards for both homeowners and public infrastructure is very important.”

The draft’s public review period runs until February 12th. More information, as well as a link to the comment form, can be found here.

The borough will also be hosting a public forum on January 19th with options for the public to either participate and ask questions via Zoom, or view-only on Facebook.

Copies of the draft, as well as a fillable comment form, are also available at the clerks’ offices of the borough, the City of North Pole, and the City of Fairbanks.

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