Assembly Postpones Land Sale Following Public Comment

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

The Kodiak Island Borough Assembly reviewed a number of land disposals and rezones at its regular meeting last week, and one drew public concern.

Under consideration was land disposal, change of future land use designation in the 2008 Comprehensive Plan, and rezoning on two lots near Baranof Park. As shown in an image overlay map, those lots are covered in a spattering of trees and serve as an extra tract of land between homes and the park on Baranof Street.

Staff explained the borough notified surrounding residents of the land changes, as is standard procedure. Community Development Director Sarah Mason said staff sent out 54 public hearing notices on those two lots about the land disposal, the comprehensive plan, and the rezone, respectively. She said they received three written comments back.

The changes also drew public comment at the regular meeting last week. Here are excerpts presented in order of speaking.

“My name is Jeff Stephan, I live at 1320 Baranof. When I heard about this, I asked some of my other neighbors on Baranof, and no one was aware of this. Apparently the notices went out only to those folks north of 12th Avenue, so that 12th Avenue comes right in and you have the entrance to the track right there and the gentleman on the corner never got a notice and neither did other people. I certainly didn’t.”

“My name is Cyndy Malinit Aquino, I live on Baranof Street, and I’m here to go ahead and please ask you guys to go ahead and reconsider selling those properties that are on Baranof. That is an existing belt that has been there in the almost 25 years that we’ve lived in that area. It creates a buffer for the children, and the city has to go ahead and support a dog park, and the people in that area literally use that for that purpose and it is kept up by the residents of that area.”

“I’m Sue Norton and I live at 1119 Baranof. I agree with what my fellow neighbors have to say, and I would like to keep the land as it stands right now and not be sold.”

At the end of the regular meeting, Kodiak City Councilmen Charlie Davidson and John Whiddon called in as members of the public and spoke in favor of keeping those properties.

Davidson said the assembly should think about making the lots into a nature trail. Whiddon, who said he lives across from the two lots, said it would be difficult to build a home on that land and the only development that would make sense would be to construct an apartment or multi-family dwelling, which would change the neighborhood.

During discussion, the assembly decided to separate those two lots from the other properties while considering disposal, a change to the comprehensive plan, and rezoning.

Assemblyman Frank Peterson voted against the separation.

“I’m wondering how we didn’t cover enough people to satisfy everybody. It seems like we did and only to get three responses back, it doesn’t seem like there was that much against it. There is a larger need and to consider these two sections as an animal park, I’m wondering how many individuals use this space for that.”

He said the borough needs residential space, and staff did its homework to determine these lots were surplus and therefore available for development.

Assemblywoman Rebecca Skinner said it’s possible not all the affected or concerned parties were notified.

“I think we have testimony to that effect tonight, and after hearing the comments, I know three written comments doesn’t sound like a lot, but I think that’s about two more comments than were received on all the other parcels combined.”

Having heard that, Peterson suggested a postponement of two months to give the public the opportunity to provide feedback.

The assembly therefore postponed the decision on those lots until the November 17 regular meeting.

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