Anchorage Assembly postpones vote on Girdwood housing development

Girdwood residents speak up on housing development proposal
The Anchorage Assembly is considering a proposal related to a multi-use development, known as Holtan Hills, in Girdwood.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 10:30 AM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Girdwood residents descended upon Tuesday night’s Anchorage Assembly meeting to voice their opinions on the proposed project to develop 60 acres of housing in the community.

At the end of the night, public testimony stretched long enough to postpone a vote by Assembly members on the proposed Holtan Hills development. The public hearing will continue Dec. 13.

Girdwood residents clearly wanted their voices to be heard, as they filled the Assembly chambers. The proposed 60-acre housing development is expected to help alleviate a housing shortage in the community, but many residents are opposed to it with concerns that housing there would be unaffordable.

Still, the Bronson administration and some Assembly members strongly support the idea.

“The Mayor is committed to supporting the development of 300+ homes per year, as outlined by the Anchorage 2040 Land Use Plan, and this project will help move us toward that goal,” the statement read. “Putting municipal land into the hands of developers and Anchorage residents is a top priority of the Mayor’s vision for a growing and prosperous city.”

Assembly Chair Suzanne LaFrance explained the positive outcomes new housing would bring.

“The Holtan Hills project in Girdwood has brought the attainable housing crisis to the forefront, and I wanted to reiterate the Assembly’s commitment to developing more housing in the municipality, especially housing that is affordable to community members from a broad range of economic backgrounds,” LaFrance said.

Girdwood residents in the crowd voiced their displeasure, noting that they were not consulted about the project from the start.

“Girdwood from the beginning of this project was not included, and so our voice was never heard and they never heard about the needs we had in the community before they put together a development plan,” Girdwood resident Lynee Doran said.

Another Girdwood resident, Krystal Hoke, hopes the strong outpouring of criticism by community members will help turn the tide for Assembly members and other Anchorage Municipality leaders.

“We need to be able to have a healthy community, one where people can live there,” Hoke said. “I think that’s fair and equitable, and that’s what people are here to represent. We want people to actually service our community, to be a part of the community.”

The 2023 municipal city budget was also completed, with the Assembly deciding to override nearly all of the mayor’s vetoes, with a few exceptions, including one line of the alcohol tax and another line for a security contract for the Assembly chambers.