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By Dan Rudy 

Planning and Zoning nears end of entitlement properties discussions

 


Future use of borough lands at Crittenden Creek, Sunny Bay and Mill Creek should continue to be recreational in nature, Wrangell’s Planning and Zoning Commission concluded at its regularly scheduled meeting Dec. 10.

The entitlement properties were among those transferred to Wrangell from the Department of Natural Resources earlier this year, just over 9,000 acres of undeveloped lands on the mainland and surrounding islands.

Planning and Zoning has been offering recommendations to guide future use of the properties along with the Economic Development Commission. Both commissions’ recommendations will provide a springboard for public workshops and community discussions to come.

“You’re going to have a lot of public input on this,” director for economic development Carol Rushmore told commissioners.

Discussing the Crittenden and Mill creeks, commissioners observed the areas have been a popular fishing area and have some archaeological and historical sites to maintain. Rushmore explained one rationale for the city’s request for the properties was for settlement not unlike Green Point, and commissioners were open to potential rural residential and resource development there.

South of Deer Island, the property at Sunny Bay is also extensively used for recreation, which commissioner Don McConachie recommended be continued. During the application process, there had been concerns those lands would have been transferred to the University of Alaska for logging. Because the area gets use by the Alaska Island Community Service’s Crossings program, commissioners were anxious to recommend the group continue to have access there.

The last entitlement property to consider future usage will be that on Zarembo Island, which Planning and Zoning will discuss at its Jan. 14 meeting.

In its other business, commissioners unanimously approved the final plat for a lot line adjustment requested by Jeff Barlow, a replat of lots 3B and 4 of the Wrangell Townsite Block 22. The item will move to the Borough Assembly for final approval at its meeting this evening.

Due to a conflict of interest, commissioner Jim Shoemaker had to abstain from two other items of business, which made them unactionable due to lack of quorum. The commission still has two unfilled seats, which the city is still looking for volunteers to fill. A special meeting was subsequently scheduled for noon today to address these two items, a vacation request of two easements and approval of findings of fact to the request for a contract zone at the Torgramsen-Glasner subdivision.

Of the latter, the Wrangell Cooperative Association is requesting a special contract zone allowing light industrial usage on a residentially-zoned lot. The WCA Transportation Office would like to purchase the 6.87-acre property and build a permanent office, storage and maintenance facility there.

During its meeting Nov. 12, Planning and Zoning approved the contract zone request. The draft findings of fact it will examine today finds impacts to adjacent properties by the facility as proposed would be minimal.

Letters from prospective seller Lisa Torgramsen and WCA transportation manager Bill Willard were filed in support of the sale, with Willard requesting the zoning commission reconsider the size of greenbelt restrictions it imposed on the proposed property. Municipal Code requires a 25-foot wide buffer between industrial and residential zones, but commissioners had decided to double this due to concerns from a future neighbor.

Willard estimated a 50-foot buffer would render 38 percent of the property unusable, and would also “apply a standard to WCA which is not required of others in a similar situation.” In her letter, Torgramsen pointed out that the property is already bordered on by commercial properties and a fully-occupied trailer court, and suggested the impact of developed residential lots on the subdivision would have a “far greater” noise and traffic impact than the office being proposed.

Responding to comments made during November’s meeting by commission chair Terri Henson, Torgramsen felt Henson’s suggestions that WCA instead purchase industrial park property owned by the city were inappropriate.

Also entered into the public record was a letter from the City and Borough regarding the Phillips subdivision on Farm Island. Several residents and the Wrangell Police Department have expressed concerns about the property’s existing access easements, points of which the letter sought to clarify.

When the subdivision was created it provided for easements enabling access to inner lots. More than half of the property’s 4.59-acre lots lack direct access to the Stikine River. Because the easements are laid out in the plat which created the subdivision, all individual deeds referring to Plat 93-7 subsequently include them whether they are accounted for in the deeds or not.

Writing the letter, Borough Manager Jeff Jabusch made clear the city was not providing a legal opinion, but was rather offering an observation based on review of the plat and several deeds. Any disagreement between property owners as to the easements would have to be resolved themselves.

 

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