A new type of multi-family development here called detached 4-plexes, built in multiple areas of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough, is causing residents concerns about traffic and potential septic failure yet didn’t trigger any Borough review through land development permits before construction.
“It’s the sweet spot for a developer,” said Alex Strawn, Borough Development Services Manager. Strawn told the Assembly this week that the detached 4-plexes had too few units to trigger a multi-family development permit, which addresses standards such as drainage and landscaping, density, emergency access. The units are also separated enough that they don’t require fire code review. The septics were approved by the State.
At the Vince Estates off Knik-Goose Bay Road there’s 84 units, with four to an acre, each with its own septic tank, all sharing a single well. There’s a similar high density development near Turner’s Corner in the Hatcher Pass area.
Assembly Member Barbara Doty cautioned about a “public health problem” for a different 4-plex development due to the septic design, which she predicts will fail.
The Assembly directed staff to bring back changes to the multi-family code to prevent such concerns for future development. The research and public involvement effort, including developers, may take six to eight months.
Listen to audio here of the complete discussion with Borough Planning Director Eileen Probasco and Strawn as they begin the dialogue with the history of a septage disposal problem in the 1970s on Knik River Road, also in densely-built multi-family housing.