Borough Land Sale Highlights Policy Issue

Baer and Townsend’s purchase request mapped out. Courtesy of Kodiak Island Borough

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Tonight at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly meeting, the assembly will address a purchase one of its members had hoped to make of borough land.

As covered in the meeting packet, Assemblyman Dave Townsend and Rob Baer own a parcel of land on Raspberry Island and had hoped to add to their property.

In order to avoid a conflict of interest, Townsend had not contributed to the conversation as an assemblyman. According to borough staff, the purchase leads to a policy issue.

The Planning and Zoning Commission gave its okay for the borough to enter into a non-competitive direct negotiation with the two, but the agreement stopped at the assembly level.

It turns out that direct negotiation may not be allowed under current code. That’s according to the borough’s legal counsel, says borough manager Michael Powers.

“In the past, the borough has sold property to individuals under direct negotiation and has misinterpreted, at least in the attorney’s opinion, the language of title 18, which has some very specific requirements for when direct negotiation can take place.”

He says that kind of land sale is permitted with government entities or nonprofits, for instance, but not with individuals.

As of Tuesday, Townsend and Baer’s purchase is off the table.

In a letter to the borough mayor and assembly this week, Baer withdrew the purchase application and asked for a return of the money he and Townsend paid to file it.

In the letter, he writes that they feel “wronged.”

He goes on to state that while they don’t plan to sue, there’s an argument for it since they followed the outlined procedures, and “a ‘no’ vote would violate [their] due process rights.”

Powers says before the borough moves onto deciding the policy decision at hand, they’ll first address Townsend and Baer’s purchase.

He says staff’s recommendation would be to refund the fee as they request.

The assembly regular meeting begins tonight at 6:30 p.m. in the assembly chambers.

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