By Naomi Klouda
The City of Homer has settled a lawsuit involving Michael Kennedy, owner of property on Ocean View Drive, who cleaned up his lot where generations of vehicles once were stored. The neighbors had complained for more than a decade, urging the city to enforce zoning laws against Kennedy. City code says no junk yards in a residential zone. Kennedy had racked up $1.87 million in fines and accumulating each day the junk yard wasn’t cleaned up.
Kennedy expressed relief that the matter is finally over. The agreement is Kennedy pays $2,000 for partial repayment of attorney’s fees; signs a confession of judgment which says that he cannot turn the lot back into a junkyard in a residential neighborhood. If he does, the matter gets referred to an independent arbitrator and he could be subject to a much bigger fine if he loses and the City agrees that his lot is substantially cleaned up and drops the case and substantially reduces the fines and attorney’s fees.
“The City is very pleased with this settlement and that the parties were able to resolve this matter without going to court,” said City Manager Walt Wrede . “We believe this is a good outcome for both parties and the City at large. Settlement was possible in large part because Mr. Kennedy expended significant time and effort cleaning up his lot. He made a good faith effort to come into compliance with the zoning code and cease operating a “junkyard” in a residential neighborhood. Mr. Kennedy partially reimbursed the City for attorney’s fees and signed a Confession of Judgment which provides that he could be subject to additional fines and attorney’s fees if he brings new “Junk” as it is defined by the code onto this lot. In return, the City has substantially reduced the potential fines and attorney’s fees and asked the judge to dismiss the case. A.compliance with the code, not punishment, is the City’s objective and it was a guiding principle in settling this case.”
In his defense, Kennedy talks about being in the Ocean View neighborhood long before it became a more upscale neighborhood, sprouting multi-million dollar homes overlooking Kachemak Bay.
“There’s a difference between people who are real Alaskans and people who come here from somewhere else and want it to be just like where they come from,” Kennedy said. “I had old vehicles that may or may not run that I got rid of. Now everything’s operational. I think everything I have is in compliance. Fishing gear. Storage containers, that’s an allowed use. Everything is OK.”
Wrede agreed that Kennedy did a good job cleaning out the old vehicles, accumulated since the 1980s. “He is completely in compliance now,” Wrede said.
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