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11/30/2019
Pot restrictions on Boro agenda: Assembly will also consider request concerning properties near Mountain Pt.

By SAM STOCKBRIDGE
Daily News Staff Writer

At Monday's Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly meeting, the Assembly will discuss the potential for new restrictions on marijuana establishments and will consider a landowner's request for borough assistance in acquiring land near Mountain Point.

Marijuana ordinances

Assembly members Alan Bailey and Susan Pickrell are proposing directing borough staff to draft ordinances to add restrictions on marijuana establishments in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Code.

According to the sponsor statement for the direction, ordinances would be composed to accomplish the following:

• "Restrict the number of marijuana establishments within the borough."

• "Restrict or eliminate the use of onsite marijuana establishments within the borough."

• "Eliminate the allowed use of marijuana establishments in commercial zones and allow only in industrial zones."

• "Restrict the allowable locations for marijuana establishments to parcels that are greater than 200 feet from residential property, with or without a (conditional use permit)."

Drafted ordinances would still require Assembly votes in order to be adopted.

Land resolution

The Assembly also will consider a request from Harlan Heaton for borough assistance in acquiring land from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office through a public auction.

The proposed resolution would have the Assembly "encourage Sen. (Bert) Stedman and Rep. (Dan) Ortiz to begin the process to have AMHT and DNR sell these lots at an open and public auction," Heaton wrote in a letter to the Assembly.

Heaton has been working to acquire the land for more than two years, according to the agenda. On Jan. 15, 2018, the Assembly adopted a resolution to approve the purchase and sale of 18 borough properties in the Mountain Point subdivision.

"At that time, Mr. Heaton explained that the planned subdivision was contingent on his purchase of adjoining property from the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources," the agenda states.

"On Dec. 17, 2018, at the request of Mr. Heaton, the Borough Assembly adopted Resolution 2795 calling on the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority to facilitate the sale of the AMHT properties in the Mountain Point Subdivision in support of the development of needed housing opportunities," it continues.

"Thus far," it concludes, "his efforts to negotiate a land purchase with the Trust Land Office and DNR have been unsuccessful."

Heaton announced his proposal for a new resolution at this past Monday's meeting of the Assembly, during which he also criticized the way AMHT handled price negotiations.

"They had an appraisal done," Heaton said. "They never would reveal their appraisal. As far as I was concerned, they just picked a pie-in-the-sky number of what (the lots) were worth. ... (But) they have to sell stuff at a minimum of the appraised value."

AMHT Southeast Lands Manager David Griffin responded to Heaton's claims in a Friday phone interview with the Daily News.

AMHT uses the appraised fair market value of the lots of land as a starting point for the negotiation price, Griffin explained, but in order to generate revenue for the trust, the asking price usually needs to be higher.

"We don't have to sell land just because somebody wants to buy it," Griffin said. "And we don't have to stick to the price of the appraisal. ... It's a number that helps guide us."

The appraisal of the property was conducted by a third party and was paid for by AMHT, he said.

AMHT informed Heaton he was welcome to conduct his own appraisal of the parcels, he added.

Griffin said negotiations stalled because Heaton was unwilling to purchase the land at a price the trust deemed acceptable.

The "premium" that AMHT has for land was clearly communicated to Heaton before negotiations began, as is the trust's policy, Griffin added.

Since Heaton's proposed prices were not sufficiently profitable, the trust "decided it wasn't really worth our interest right now," Griffin said.

Griffin emphasized that AMHT takes all recommendations seriously, but said ultimately AMHT gets to choose how to handle its lands.

Meeting information

Monday's Assembly meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in the Assembly chambers at 1900 First Ave. There is time for public comment at the start of the meeting.