Councilapproves right of way vacation

Published on Thu, Jan 12, 2006 by Meg Olson

Read More News

Council approves right of way vacation

By Meg Olson

Blaine will sell a 9-foot-wide strip of right-of-way on 4th Street back to developer Joel Douglas so his stalled Seascape condominium project can proceed without any demolition or redesign.

At their January 9 meeting council members approved a vacation of part of the right-of-way the city acquired from Douglas in exchange for $55,000 in forgiven fees and penalties owed on the former Westview Motel property on Peace Portal Drive.

Douglas and his representatives have appeared before city council repeatedly since a stop work order was issued for the project in October of 2004, alleging improper handling of the project by city staff. “The errors of the situation are many and the opportunity is here to correct it,” said Mike Kohl on behalf of Douglas’ company Harbor Lands.

City attorney Jon Sitkin said the city had “a different interpretation of facts” regarding the history of the project, but that those were not relevant to the vacation before council. “I don’t think the chronology has much to do with this vacation,” agreed Ken Ely. “With all these other tangential issues aside the easiest way to solve the problem is to approve the vacation.”

The additional property, a strip 9 feet wide by 230 feet long running south from the intersection of Alder and 4th Streets on the west side of 4th Street, will allow a large enough driveway to allow the already built garage units to be useable.

In approving the vacation council added a condition that a new site plan for the project be submitted and approved by the city before the vacation is finalized.

City public works director Steve Banham said the city would have preferred to retain the entire 70 feet of right-of-way acquired from Harbor Lands, in order to be able to modify the street to accommodate future growth.

However, he said, “we try and balance that with property owners needs.” With a slightly more limited 60 feet on the Alder Street end and the full 70 feet on the Peace Portal Drive end of the block, Banham said the city had enough room to grow.

“I’m trying to preserve as much of the right-of-way where I think it is most likely road improvements will be needed,” he said. In addition, the deal includes transfer of a wedge-shaped piece of property at the intersection of Peace Portal Drive and Fourth Street which Banham said will help, “open the throat” of the intersection.

Council voted six to one with Hawkins opposed to approve the vacation at the previously appraised price of $9.74 per square foot or $18,583.