Last week, the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly turned down a potentially illegal land sale.
Assemblyman Dave Townsend and Rob Baer had applied to buy land on Raspberry Island. The transaction made it past the Planning and Zoning Commission before the borough’s attorney pointed out the deal may not be legal.
It turns out that the mode of sale they would have used, a non-competitive direct negotiation, is only allowed with certain parties, like government entities or nonprofits, and not with individuals.
Borough staff says the misunderstanding has been going on for a while and leads to a policy issue in the code that regulates land sale.
The two buyers withdrew their application last Tuesday.
However, at last week’s assembly regular meeting, borough manager Michael Powers said even that step is murky under the code.
“It’s not clear that you can withdraw an application once you’ve submitted an application. Now, common sense would say you could, but that’s not explicit in our ordinance.”
The assembly had been considering the land sale in a resolution, and amended it to remove language about direct negotiation. It then failed the motion since the two buyers had decided not to go forward on the application.
Assemblyman Larry LeDoux said this situation shows that the borough’s land sale code needs a review.
“It revealed that we’ve been doing things or the borough in the past had done things that’s perhaps weren’t legal, but the reality is the person has withdrawn their application. We need to talk about these issues at some other time when the public can be a part of that.”
Powers said the borough does intend to look into the code and address the policy issue.