The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly agreed Monday to move forward with a revised plan to sell 18 lots in the Mountain Point Subdivision to developer Harlan Heaton.
There was lengthy public comment on the topic, with seven people speaking in support of Heaton’s proposal. Most of them own lots in that subdivision, but can’t use the land because there’s no road access.
Pilot Jerry Scudero is one of them.
“I probably got to enjoy my property more than anyone because I’m able to fly over it and see it every time I come back from Misty Fiords and go, ‘That’s my property,’ but I’ll probably never get to use it,” he said. “I think what Harlan’s doing right now, it’s going to be a great effort for everybody.”
Jos Govaars was the only speaker opposed to Heaton’s proposal. Govaars has a lot in that area, and has developed it. He asked the assembly to take more time to consider options and to plan.
Heaton told the assembly that his revised proposal addresses all the big concerns brought forward at the last meeting.
“What about the 60 lot owners that have paid property tax for almost 40 years? When do we address their concerns? Now, or wait another 40 years?” he said.
At its Dec. 4 meeting, the assembly voted to abandon Heaton’s initial purchase proposal. That earlier proposal called for a total purchase price of $180, a break on property taxes and creation of a Special Assessment District to pay for utilities and roads.
Heaton worked with borough staff on a revised agreement. In the new agreement approved Monday, he will have a five-year option to purchase the lots, which gives him time to negotiate purchase of other lots in the area owned by Alaska Mental Health Trust. Obtaining the Trust land is key to the development plan.
Heaton also agreed to finance re-platting costs of up to $150,000, and to leave out the Special Assessment District issue, which neighboring lot owners had objected to.
Heaton also agreed to provide right-of-way access to the subdivision, to minimize impact on neighboring lots.
The assembly agreed Monday to reconsider its vote to abandon the land-sale process. It then voted unanimously in favor of Heaton’s new proposal. A formal agreement still needs to come back to the assembly in mid-January.
Also Monday, the assembly voted to move forward with a change to borough code, allowing dogs to be off leash in the two fields next to Point Higgins Elementary School.
People speaking in favor of the code change pointed out that there is no other place for people with aggressive or anxious dogs to exercise safely off leash. Kasia Polanska said her dogs don’t get along well with other dogs, which is why she uses those fields.
“The fact is that owners and families with dogs almost never share the Weiss Fields with anyone else, or with other users. If they do share it, it’s with people they know and dogs they are familiar with. People don’t enter the fields if there are other users with or without dogs,” she said. “The fields are unique in that they make it possible for dogs to be exercised safely and not pose a threat to anyone else.”
There is a dog park under development in Ketchikan, but that kind of park encourages social interaction among dogs, so it’s not appropriate for aggressive animals.
The assembly directed borough staff to bring back a code change for consideration. They added direction to purchase a dog-waste station for the fields, and to in the fine for not picking up after a dog. The fine would double to $200.
Also Monday, the assembly unanimously approved new contracts for borough bargaining groups.