Screenshot from Petersburg Borough interactive map

Petersburg’s planning commission has recommended the borough sell two parcels of land on Sandy Beach Road. The borough assembly will decide whether to go forward with the sale and how to do it.

The borough has received applications to purchase borough owned property at 700 and 1015 Sandy Beach Road. Both parcels are zoned for single family residential use and both applicants say they’d build a home if they’re able to purchase the land. The planning commission met Tuesday, February 8th and heard from neighbors and others. Several called on the borough to make it a competitive sale open anyone, not just the applicants.

Most of the discussion, however, centered around one of the two parcels, at 1015 Sandy Beach Road, next to the borough’s Sandy Beach Park.

Architect Linda Millard of Ketchikan applied to purchase that property.

“Right now it appears to be solely for gear storage,” Millard said, adding, “There’s two boats, lot of crab pots, pretty much all on the property. There’s no trail to the beach that’s for the public. If you feel that providing gear storage for the neighbors is the best and highest use then you shouldn’t dispose of this property. But my husband and I would love the chance, the chance, to purchase the property and encourage you to go forward with this.”

Other property owners who already have homes next to the park asked the commission to recommend the borough keep the land as public space. Neighbor Jolyn Duddles owns the lot next door and has gathered signatures on a petition asking to keep it undeveloped.

“As a homeowner in the neighborhood my concern is that we will lose the low density residential feel of the neighborhood which was one of the many draws to purchase in the area,” Duddles said. “We were also told that the city owned the lot when we went to buy and that it was sort of an extension of Sandy Beach as a public access area. We were not aware that the city had zoned it as a residential lot at the time.”

Other neighbors were concerned with impacts on the park and having more trees cut down in the area to build another home. But some wrote in support of the sale saying it would added to the tax rolls. It’s not the first time that land near the park has sparked controversy. But the municipality has mostly moved forward with requests to purchase land.

Commissioners, like Jim Floyd, said they didn’t see a reason to recommend against putting the land up for sale.

“I don’t really agree that it interferes with the park because there are several houses between properties that they’re asking about and the park,” Floyd said. “And it has this really nice green belt going around the side. Personally I won’t walk my dog along this side because there’s houses and I feel like that I’m encroaching on other people’s property. I have an issue with that. And maybe people who’ve lived here forever think differently but that’s just the way I feel. Those are peoples’ houses, I stay away from that. I walk out toward the water. I don’t really see, other than the fact that obviously people feel very strongly about that we have a right to say no, we shouldn’t consider it.”

The commission voted to recommend sale of both parcels by sealed competitive bid. For the property next to the park, the commission added that the assembly should consider rezoning it for open space if it decided not to sell. The sale of those two parcels is not on the agenda for the assembly’s February 22 meeting.