Wrangell Sentinel -

By Dan Rudy 

Firearms ordinances pass, tidelands sale to Stikine Inn proceeds


At its regular Tuesday-night meeting, Wrangell's City and Borough Assembly passed an amended ordinance proposal, creating a chapter on abuse of the 911 emergency system and amending chapters 10.32 and 10.36 of the Municipal Code regarding the carrying of concealed firearms in town.

First reviewing the proposal in January, objections were raised by various Assembly members and residents about some preexisting language in the ordinance, such as where firearms could be fired in relation to the borough limits and near roadways. Subsequent meetings and public hearings have since amended and refined the ordinance, but one further amendment was added Tuesday before final passage.

The new rules taking effect restrict discharge of a firearm within one half-mile of any street, road or highway within the borough service area, up to and including Mile 7 on Zimovia Highway. Shooting is allowed beyond that point within up to one quarter-mile of a paved roadway, as recommended by members of the public at a hearing in February.

Another ordinance proposal amending the minor offense fine schedule which had previously been postponed because of its connection to Ordinance 893 was likewise passed.

“There's still some property issues here for some people who live outside of that line,” Assembly member Mark Mitchell commented before the vote was tallied. In particular, he thought it intrusive that property owners living near a public roadway were not legally allowed to discharge a firearm on their property, within certain limits. He felt in future the Assembly should better demarcate Wrangell's rural and residential/business areas. “We could run into some problems down the road.”

The Assembly also passed a trio of proposed ordinances on first reading, which will be subject to public hearing on April 28. These would establish moorage fees for Meyers Chuck and reservation deposits for long-term storage; enhance the 911 surcharge on local exchange access lines and wireless telephone numbers within the emergency service area; and repeal section 11-2 of the Home Rule Charter referencing Thomas Bay Power Authority.

The Assembly approved proceeding with a request to sell city tidelands adjacent to the Stikine Inn to owner Bill Goodale, who intends to expand the business in the next three to five years. City Clerk Kim Lane explained she will order an appraisal of the property's value, while the Planning and Zoning Commission will prepare a plat. Both the appraisal and plat will then move to the Assembly for a resolution, after which the property would be sold. At Goodale's request, the Assembly waived the need to hold a bid process.

Mayor David Jack said the new development would be a benefit to the community. “This is taking property that isn't being used and putting it on the tax roll,” he reasoned.

Under persons to be heard, resident Margie Wood wanted to express her support for the proposed sale. Initially she had submitted a letter to the Assembly expressing concern that the public-access shelters by City Dock used by visitors and local vendors would no longer be available.

She was hoping for a guarantee from the city that it would develop a portion of property south of the dock for that purpose. After talking to Goodale about his future plans, his intention to include a courtyard usable by the public allayed many of her concerns.

“That area would be really impressive, compared to what we have now,” Wood said.

Adding to this, harbormaster Greg Meissner indicated he and the borough manager had discussed options for adding an additional vendor shelter south of the dock. This would be modest in scale, but he explained the fill area involved would not require an Army Corps of Engineers permit to develop and would use funding leftover from a $3.2 million Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development (DCCED) grant to improve the dock area.

Also speaking under persons to be heard, Wilma Leslie requested the city write Gov. Bill Walker, asking him to reinstate funding for the Alaska Marine Highway System. Around 9,200 passengers are potentially left in scheduling limbo this summer, if $11 million in cuts proceed as currently envisioned. The Legislature is expected to finalize a budget before ending its session Sunday.

“It's alarming because it really would hurt Wrangell's visitor industry,” Leslie predicted.

A vacancy on the Nolan Museum and Civic Center Board was filled, with Dan Roope appointed after expressing an interest. Public Works director Amber Al-Haddad was similarly appointed to be the alternate board member on the Southeast Alaska Solid Waste Authority Board after submitting a letter of interest. A vacancy on the Planning and Zoning Commission remains unfilled.

Approval was given for a cost proposal by PND Engineering for engineering design services of future Shoemaker Bay Harbor moorage replacement, in the amount of $465,039. The money comes from a DCCED grant, and the bid was awarded based on two submissions.

“We're happy with PND, with the product we get,” Meissner commented. The first phase of field assessments was reported complete to the Port Commission earlier this month.


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