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By Dan Rudy 

Silvernail reroute passes P&Z


The future of Silvernail Work Road continues to take shape, with a debated section to be rerouted and downgraded from a right-of-way to an easement. At its regular meeting April 9, Wrangell’s Planning and Zoning Commission agreed to vacate the road where it cuts through the Marine Service Center yard.

The section of Silvernail connecting Brueger Street with Front Street was largely conceptual, planned as a bypass for barge traffic making its way to Zimovia Highway. Although the boatyard was built afterward, the road’s right-of-way status was kept, which prevented any permanent development of potential lots through its planned route.

In November, the Port Commission formally requested that P&Z finally vacate the road. It hoped to free up developmental options for a potential lease lot, further diversifying services offered at the yard while also addressing a demand for more dry workspaces.

For its part, Planning and Zoning and the Borough Economic Development office were generally in favor of maintaining some form of designated access. A right-of-way had been preferred as being more guaranteed in the long-run, but a compromise was reached that left both sides satisfied.

City economic development head Carol Rushmore explained that in addition to vacating the road, zoning commissioners have requested the establishment of a 60-foot easement spanning from the beginning of the pavement between City Market and the Nolan Center to the southern corner of Lot C, which will continue providing access to that property. From there, the easement would taper down to 30 feet across, navigating through the yard to the present gate on Front Street.

“This is all subject to change,” she added. “This is not exact. Once they do the actual survey for it, it may swing out a little bit.”

The vacation moved to the Borough Assembly for approval at its Tuesday evening meeting. The task of surveying the route will be bid out to a private contractor. “We’ll try to do it quickly,” Rushmore said.

Afterward, the boatyard will be replatted, which will then need to be approved by P&Z and the Assembly before taking effect.

“What came out of it worked for everybody,” commented Wrangell’s harbormaster, Greg Meissner. “Everybody gave a little on something.”

If approved, the change frees up a space near the yard’s Front Street access for development of a permanent structure. A metal building is currently up at the spot, but Meissner said that will eventually be removed. In its place, he thinks a structure as large as 70-by-80 foot can be constructed on the future lease property, similar in scale to that used by Jenkins Welding.

“We’re not there yet, but at least we have the ability to get started,” Meissner said.

Commissioners approved a variance permit application for a zero-foot back yard setback on Lot 20A replat of the Oliver Subdivision. Requested by Thomas Roland, the setback is sought to allow construction of an 8-by 16-foot chicken coop along the back property line. An easement running alongside of the property does not allow construction of such structures.

Planning and Zoning also approved an encroachment permit application at Lot 1, Block 1A, Wrangell Townsite for a heating unit on the building wall above the sidewalk on Campbell Drive. Kelsey Martinsen requested the permit in order to add an electric heat pump, which would extend 18 inches out over the sidewalk and about seven feet above.

The commission also approved minutes from previous meetings dating all the way back to December.


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