P&Z Commission approves Institute wood storage, access road


Greg Knight

The center of the above photograph shows the approximate location of the planned road through the Institute property.

The Wrangell Planning and Zoning Commission approved a temporary use permit at the former Wrangell Institute property to allow for sorting

and processing of wood from a timber sale – as well as the creation of a logging road for access to the


Alcan Forest Products of Ketchikan made the request in preparation for a timber cut on property owned by the Alaska Mental Health Trust.

Previous discussion about the status of a road through the property, for the purpose of logging, fell flat during a meeting of the commission where resident Daryl Gross requested action to stop the cut. The commission told Gross at the time that because the property was owned by the state there was no action that could be taken.

Gross’s concerns revolved around both a possible access road being placed adjacent to his home and the impact to subsistence fruits, vegetables and herbs that grow on the site of the proposed cut.

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During the commission’s March 26 meeting, Gross explained one of his main concerns.

“We are directly impacted by this road proposal, putting it up there next to our house and (the) Smith house,” Gross said, continuing. “I am against this proposal for a road going in next to our house because it’s in a residential area, for one, and it’s going to be a noise factor for me. I’m going to have to pick up and move and our renters who are right underneath us on the same property have four kids and it’s going to be dangerous.”

Fast forward to last week; the commission took the issue of a new road not adjacent to Gross’ property, but rather cutting southeast through existing MHT lands.

During the public comment portion of the meeting, Wrangell resident Cindy Whitefeather expressed her concerns about putting a road through the property – though her reason was based on Native heritage, rather than the State of Alaska’s desired usage of the land.

“I want it noted that I will slap injunctions to keep them off that land,” Whitefeather said. “They’ve already wasted part of this island. They’re not going to do it to the Institute … that is historical land.”

In her report to the Commission, Borough Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore said the request by Alcan was both for storage and sorting, as well as to cut a path for the new road.

“Alcan Forest Products is seeking to utilize approximately 2 acres of the fenced in area of the former Institute Property for log storage and sorting from the (Trust Land Office) timber sale located directly behind the Institute Property,” Rushmore stated. “In addition, they are seeking to construct a 2400’-2500’ long logging road through the southern portion of the former Institute property to access the timber on the Mental Health property. This road would be utilized for the harvest, rather than the proposed road TLO provided the contractor located between Daryl Gross’s and Bruce Smith’s properties. Alcan estimates that the harvesting would be completed by summer of 2014.”

According to Rushmore, Alcan previously communicated with City Hall that if the Borough wanted any harvesting done on the Institute property, the road construction would enable access to Borough timber.

Rushmore said, however, that this is not being considered under the commission’s current action.

Submitted Photo

This aerial map shows the location of a proposed road through the former Wrangell Institute property for a planned logging operation.

“At this time, the request being reviewed is strictly for the log storage area and for the access road,” she added.

In other commission news, the group approved a conditional use permit for a bed and breakfast owned by Steve and Lynn Prysunka, as well as a temporary use permit for a rock crusher and asphalt plant to be located at Brett Woodbury’s quarry site on Zimovia Highway.


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