Frank Griswold v. City of Homer, 186 P.3d 558 (June 20, 2008)
After the Homer City Council passed an ordinance limiting the floor area of
stores in three City of Homer zoning districts to between 20,000 and 45,000
square feet, Homer residents passed an initiative that increased the area to
66,000 square feet for all three zoning districts. The Superior Court upheld
the initiative and granted summary judgment to the city. The Supreme
Court reverses holding that the initiative violates Alaska Statutes and Kenai
Peninsula Borough Ordinances.
The Alaska Statutes require a planning commission that prepares a
comprehensive plan which is considered in zoning decisions. The Kenai
Borough Ordinances require cities to which it delegates it zoning power
establish a planning commission “to hear all requests for amendments to
zoning codes.” The initiative process does not comply with these
requirements. Justice Carpeniti dissents stating that the majority opinion is
too restrictive and that voter initiatives are not subject to the restrictions
applicable to other legislative bodies.