FNSB residents invited to comment on Downtown Plan

Published: Oct. 13, 2023 at 11:18 AM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Until Friday, October 13, Fairbanks North Star Borough residents have an opportunity to review the borough’s Downtown Plan and give their input.

Since 2017 the borough has been working on the new Downtown Plan meant to replace an old one which was repealed.

According to Melissa Kellner, Deputy Director with FNSB Community Planning, “We’ve heard from hundreds of community members. We have thousand of comments that have gone into the creation of this plan.”

The effort has been spearheaded by a working group assigned by borough administration. “They represent residents, business owners, city council members, transportation professionals, just about anyone who’s involved in the downtown,” Kellner explained.

Now, community members are asked to look over the plan. Kellner added, “See if they identify with the statements in there. See if we got it right, and provide comments on the plan overall, on those land-use categories, on the goals and strategies, and see if it identifies ways to move forward in developing a downtown that they want in their community.”

The document, when adopted, will determine how land can be used and developed in the downtown area. “The plan also includes a transportation network identifying key corridors for pedestrians, bikes, transit and motorized vehicles. That helps guide project decisions, funding decisions, when it comes to transportation projects,” Kellner said.

With community input, the boundaries of downtown Fairbanks were defined as running from Airport Way in the south to Minnie Street in the North, and Cowles in the west to the Steese Expressway in the East.

The downtown plan represents one section of a larger Regional Plan, according to Kellner. “We recognize that the borough, being the size of the state of New Jersey, has a lot of unique planning areas within it, and so that’s why we’ve started to break down our planning efforts to focus on specific areas within the region.”

When comment on this final draft has closed, this input will be reviewed and potentially impact the plan. Even then, residents will continue to have a chance to speak out. Kellner added, “This winter, we’ll be working on the formal adoption process, so there will be more opportunities for the public to comment at a minimum of one public hearing at the planning commission and another public hearing at the assembly.”

Kellner said ultimately, the plan must be approved by the borough assembly, which is expected to happen during the winter. “At that point, it becomes our guiding document, not just for the Community Planning department, but for the community as a whole.”

The draft plan comment period was extended until October 13th to accommodate Election Week. The current draft can be found here.