The first in a series of land sales planned by the mayor of the Kenai Peninsula Borough comes up for a vote at the assembly's meeting tonight in Seldovia.
An ordinance introduced by Mayor Dale Bagley would authorize the sale of lots from the 118-acre Russian Gap Subdivision by sealed bid and also appropriate $258,000 to build a subdivision road and install telephone and electric lines.
"We're going to keep trying to get land on the market," Bagley said. "I'm very glad things seem to be working out in Cooper Landing. We've worked through a lot of the issues. I think we're finally going to get some land on the market out there."
Planning Director Robert Bright said he hopes the Russian Gap sale can be in early November, depending on how quickly the borough can install roads and utilities. The subdivision includes 12 lots ranging from five acres to nearly 16 acres in size. One 13-acre lot cannot be accessed from the planned subdivision road. Bright said he plans to ask the assembly to classify that for preservation. The others, which the borough already has classified for residential use, front the planned subdivision road.
Bright said he asked a borough appraiser to estimate how much the borough could earn by selling the Russian Gap lots. Excluding the preservation lot, initial estimates put the total earnings at $601,000 to $1 million.
"We wanted to make sure the lot values would be greater than the road and utility cost," he said.
Bright also proposes zoning the Russian Gap Subdivision as rural residential under the borough's new local-option zoning law. Permitted uses in the rural residential zone include single-family homes, bed and breakfasts, guide services and home businesses such as child care and computer programming.
"In visiting with the Cooper Landing Advisory Planning Commission, that seemed to be the most appropriate fit," Bright said.
He said he expects to put a zoning ordinance before the assembly prior to the Russian Gap sale.
Also tonight, the assembly will vote whether to introduce a second ordinance authorizing the sale of 10 parcels totaling roughly 196 acres in the Kenai, Kalifornsky Beach, Cohoe and Tote Road areas.
The borough has tried to sell eight of those before. However, two parcels off Tote Road south of Soldotna would go on the market for the first time. If the ordinance survives introduction, it could come up for public hearing Aug. 8. If it passes, the sale would be by sealed bids to be opened Sept. 19.
The borough actually owns 160 acres off Tote Road and more land beyond that. The 160 acres lies along Rex's Road and Tanadak Street, which has yet to be built. Last month, the assembly set aside roughly 10 acres containing the remains of Dena'ina barabaras for archaeological exploration. It classified the rest of the 160 acres for residential use.
The residential land surrounds a lake of about five acres. The two lots proposed for sale are roughly 33 and 37 acres and already have access from which buyers could develop subdivision roads.
"It's nice view property with views of Cook Inlet and Redoubt," Bagley said this spring. "That would be a nice subdivision that would be a good asset to the borough, if it's done properly."
There is lots of land available on the central peninsula, he said, but there is not much with views like that.
"That's what I had in mind with Tote Road, because I don't think it competes with other property," he said.
The proposed Sept. 19 sale also includes 40.5 acres on the Cook Inlet bluffs near Wildwood Correctional Center with a minimum bid of $425,000; 7.2 acres on the Cook Inlet bluff along Kalifornsky Beach Road with a minimum bid of $144,500; 39 acres on the inland side of K-Beach Road with a minimum bid of $87,500 and 22 acres off Cohoe Loop near the mouth of the Kasilof River with a minimum bid of $63,900.
To set minimum bids for the Russian Gap and Tote road lots, the borough assessor must still determine the fair market values.
Bright said he hopes to put a third ordinance before the assembly in August to authorize an initial sale from 8,129 acres the borough owns by Point Possession. He said he would like to test the market with about 22 lots from the southern end of a 1996 conceptual subdivision design.
The inland lots in the conceptual plan range from 25 to 84 acres in size. Along the Cook Inlet bluff, Bright proposes lots of about 10 acres each, slightly larger than those in the 1996 plan. That land already is classified for rural use.
This spring, Bright considered selling 145 acres off Murwood Drive near Bridge Access Road for residential and commercial use. Much of that land is wetlands, but borough officials said some is suitable for development.
However, Robert Ruffner, project coordinator for the Kenai Watershed Forum, said an unnamed creek and wetlands there provide important habitat for young silver salmon. The land could be developed, he said, but it would take forethought to avoid harming salmon.
"We postponed that sale until next year," Bright said last week. "We wanted to take more of a look at it. There are concerns about wetlands on that tract."
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