The Wrangell Borough Assembly voted Tuesday to approve The Bay Company’s request to purchase a city-owned alley adjacent to its property.
The request to vacate the alley between The Bay Company and the Marine Service Center has been in the works since August. The Planning and Zoning Commission and the Port Commission recommended the Bay Co. request be approved after discussing it at several meetings.
Bay Company Manager David Powell stepped away from his seat on the assembly to speak at Tuesday’s public hearing.
“I’m not getting this land to build anything on. I’m trying to get it so that I can clean it up, flatten it out, so I can put storage there and stuff like that,” Powell said. “There’s 15 feet on each side of this pole that I can’t do anything with, anyway. There’s a line above me and an easement that’s going to go through there. So I don’t see the purpose of even not doing this at all.”
Economic Development Director Carol Rushmore recommended not selling the property so the borough could maintain a right-of-way through the alley.
“It doesn’t have to be utilized now. You can still enter into some land use agreement with Bay Company to utilize it for storage, which is what they want to do,” Rushmore said. “And I’m just looking at the long term of mid-block access on Front Street. I’m talking 40 to 50 years out. Who knows what’s going to happen? But a lot of times it’s the city’s policy not to vacate right-of-ways because you don’t know what’s going to happen in the future.”
At a Planning and Zoning meeting last month, Powell said Bay Co. would not invest in leveling the property unless Bay Co. could own the property.
Assembly Member Julie Decker said helping a local business is more important than saving space for the future possibility of building a walkway through the alley.
“I think the benefit to the community is getting it on the tax rolls and making sure we have access to the utilities, of course. But I see it’s more beneficial to the community to help a local business expand,” Decker said.
The assembly followed the recommendations of the Planning and Zoning Commission and Port Commission. Assembly members voted to vacate the alleyway and sell it to Bay Co., providing for a 15-foot utility easement on each side of the electric lines.