Common Council gets ready to destroy site for sore eyes
The Nome Common Council has taken action to continue to rid the community of derelict structures.
On a list of 52 structures, a resolution listed five candidates to be cleaned up or torn down. Thus begins a process that provides notice to owners and a public hearing before the city applies the bulldozer to any of the five places that still show no evidence of tender loving care.
These are the addresses that have made the list for action: 103 E. King Place; 209 West 2nd Ave., 509 Cranberry Way (Icyview); 104 W. 4th Ave.; and 245 A and 245 B Front St.
209 West 2nd came off the list when David Csiki took the podium to tell the council that the property no longer belonged to Richard Galleher Estate, but belonged to Gold Beach Development, owned by himself and John K. Handeland. The place had been made safe and materials landed or on the way for making the structure into storage, repair and warehouse with a building permit in place, Csiki said.
“Work has commenced and is rolling,” he said.
At the suggestion of Councilman Stan Andersen, city staff replaced 209 2nd Ave., taken off the list, with another dilapidated derelict.
In other business concerning real property, the council adopted an ordinance approving sale of its interest in the building at 606 I St. to the nonprofit organization, Kawerak, Inc., for $1.5 million.
Kawerak has been leasing the large blue building on the east end of town for use as a child care facility. City law allows disposal of interest in property to a municipal, borough, state or federal entity, or to any other entity providing a necessary public service without seeking bids and for less than the current assessed or appraised value of the interest in real property. Should the property not be used for the necessary public service, justifying the original disposal, the interest in the real property would revert to the city.
An ordinance going into second reading and final passage added the Historic Preservation Commission duties to the powers and authorities of the Nome Planning Commission.
The first tasks of the HPC would be to develop a local historic preservation plan; review and make recommendations on local projects that might affect properties tagged in the historic preservation plan and review nominations to the National Register of Historic Places for properties within its jurisdiction.
The move is necessary to qualify Nome as an Alaska Certified Local Government, making the city eligible to apply for grant money for historical preservation projects.
The council voted into first reading an ordinance amending a city law to establish a policy on holding elected or appointed office while employed by the City of Nome. Robert’s Rules of Order, a procedure guiding the city’s public meetings, bans discussion until second reading and final passage. The ordinance forbids employees from serving on a commission or board that governs their job, but clears the way for employees to serve on a board or commission that governs another department or municipal body for which they do not work.
Hospital zone change?
Under the first of two public comment periods, Alaska Senator Donny Olson rose to the podium to launch a request for zone change for the old hospital of which he is part owner, at Fifth Avenue and Bering Street.
Under the 2008 zoning law, the hospital sits in a General Use Zone. That designation stands in the way of development, Olson said. The present zone map tends to impede development of the economic potential he feels the site holds, better the site change to Commercial Zone. A different zoning designation would make the site more attractive to those interested in economic activity.
“I can’t get everything taken care of until I get a Commercial Zone,” Olson explained.
Norton Sound G-O Development owns the old hospital, vacated and sold when work finished on the new building at the east end of Greg Kruschek Avenue. Olson and Jim Gribbens each own 36 percent of the company, according to a May 2014 filing with the state Dept. of Commerce. Susan Nowland is an investor.
Olson was born in the hospital, he said. He had a tonsillectomy at the hospital as a child and grew up to work there as a health aide. He felt optimistic about the site’s possibilities, he said.
The council showed sympathy and a willingness to expedite the senator’s request.
However, “don’t refer it to the Nome Planning Commission,” Councilman Stan Andersen advised. “They will want to study it. Is there a way to expedite it?”
Tom Moran, city manager, advised Olson to apply for a conditional use permit within the current General Use Zone, informing him that the conditional use permit would involve getting an OK from the Nome Planning Commission for a specific use within the zone. The process requires posting a meeting notice notifying owners of adjacent property and a public hearing. A council member observed that the old hospital stood away from neighbors. Council expressed agreement with Olson that zone lines seemed artificial.
An unfavorable answer could go to the council under an appeal process.
“There is a procedure,” Councilman Tom Sparks said. “If it doesn’t get through Planning Commission it comes here.”
He had already put in for a variance with the NPC, Olson told the council, and was going through that channel.
“I’m giving you heads up on what I need to be done,” he said.
Also during public comment period, Ukallaysaaq Tom Okleasik proposed the city adopt an ordinance to ban burning trash within city limits. When he came home from picnicking with his family and found his house filled with the smell of burning trash from nearby, he called the police. “The police said you can burn trash in city limits, but you cannot burn trash at the landfill,” Okleasik said. The law needs to be clear, Councilman Jerald Brown said. “We don’t want to suddenly outlaw barbecues.” The council asked City Manager Moran to look into drawing up an ordinance.
Also under public comment, Councilman Tom Sparks told of his wife’s need for Nome Volunteer Ambulance services, which had been performed with expertise and competence. As a private citizen, he expressed gratitude. “Thank you for very great service,” Sparks said.