Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Planning and Zoning considers Silvernail reroute


Wrangell’s Planning and Zoning Commission was able to meet last Thursday for the first time since January.

Commissioners examined the future of Silvernail Road, whose right-of-way cuts a course through the Marine Service Center yard and connects with Front Street. The Harbor Department would prefer to see the largely conceptual road vacated to free up space for leasing, but Economic Development head Carol Rushmore has expressed reluctance to relinquish it so easily.

In Rushmore’s view, having the road guarantees the property access to Front Street. Looking long-term, she argued the city would be wise not to give up their right-of-way for a short-term convenience as it would be difficult to regain. In addition, were the road vacated the boatyard would have to be replatted to comply with city ordinance.

Rushmore presented to commissioners an alternate route for Silvernail that would make use of current traffic routes and narrow its footprint.

“It kind of makes sense to me to put the road where they’re actually driving now,” said Terri Henson, chairing the commission.

Commissioners agreed, and resolved to draw up a plan for consideration at its next meeting. Rushmore reminded them whatever decision they reached would be subject to a public hearing.

The commission also considered a variance application requested by Todd and Catherine White for a zero-foot side yard setback for building a house on Lot 1, Block 3, USS 1593.

A couple of future neighbors to the Evergreen Avenue property came forward with concerns about the future house. One was Liz Buness, self-described as a resident of 32 years.

“There’s a little bit of a concern because the property line has a distinct angle to it,” she began. In particular, she was worried the house White planned to build would infringe on the seaside view from her own.

“It is kind of an odd spot,” agreed Amy Price, another future neighbor. “The total value of my house is the view.”

“I understand your concern. You’re right across the street from that,” Todd White responded. “I’m not trying to build an eyesore. It’s not really big.”

Borough staff had recommended approving the variance, finding the circumstances met criteria of “exceptional physical” difficulties and would not be a prejudice to others. The property dips down off the roadway, with a steep access limiting developmental options.

“Usually when we’re giving a setback variance it’s because the lot has unusual circumstances,” explained Henson.

A letter from another nearby property owner stated she would have no objections to the construction as long as the property was properly measured and surveyed beforehand. Commissioners opted to approve the variance request, provided White meet that criteria.

“The thing is, they own their property and they have a right to build,” Henson concluded.

The commission approved final plat review of the Torgramsen/Prunella

subdivision of Lot A-2, creating lots A-1A, Lot A and Remainder of Lot A-2, requested by Steve Prunella. It approved preliminary plat review for the Hazel/Haverstock resubdivision of lots 13 and 14, Block 2 ASLS83-7 Wrangell Island West Subdivision, requested by Charles and Melody Hazel.

The commission also approved final plat review of the McCloskey/Rooney Replat, a replat of lots 4 and 5, Block 7 of the Wrangell Island West Subdivision, requested by Doug and Pam McCloskey. Commissioner Betty Keegan reported she rents from the McCloskeys, but other

commissioners did not feel

that constituted a conflict of interest.


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