(Image from the Petersburg borough’s online property map)

The Petersburg borough assembly Monday voted to sell two parcels of borough land on Sandy Beach Road. The assembly plans to hold a public auction for the lots at its first meeting in May.

The borough has applicants to purchase land at 700 and 1015 Sandy Beach Road and the planning commission recommended the assembly go forward with sale of both by sealed bid.

Ketchikan resident Linda Millard applied to purchase one of the parcels, at 1015 Sandy Beach. She said she and her husband hoped to build a house there.

“My husband is a small contractor,” Millard said. “I’m an architect and he spent a year here building my daughters house on Sandy Beach Road. When he came back he said you know I really like Petersburg and as we’re starting to downsize our home and our businesses, we started looking for property.”

Two weeks before, one of the neighbors of that property Jolyn Duddles urged the assembly to keep it as an extension of the nearby park.

“Selling this lot to a private party will forever drastically change the feel and the scenery of the area,” Duddles said. “No doubt many of the trees will be cut down for a home to be built and unlike the houses adjacent to Sandy Beach Park right now that are nestled back into the area due to the small lot size, the house will most likely crowd the beach front.”

Duddles also submitted a petition asking for the land to remain undeveloped. Her property and the one for sale both look out on the tide flats of Sandy Beach Park, also owned by the borough. Land sales in that area have sparked some opposition in the past because of their impact on the park. Others in the community say the borough should sell the land to increase the property tax base in the community.

The borough has used both sealed bid and outcry auction for selling land in the recent past. Sealed bid gives a buyer one shot to put offer a purchase price, with no open competition against people who might be your neighbors. An outcry auction allows open competition and can drive up the proceeds of the sale.

Mayor Mark Jensen pointed out another difference between the two.

“If you are seated elected person for the borough, you can’t bid on these, in an outcry but you can in a sealed bid,” Jensen said. “So that’s one thing to consider, why the charter says that, we have had discussions, we’re talking about, we’re going to have it on the agenda to change the ordinance and get it to a vote of the public.”

The borough’s charter prohibits elected officials or borough employees from selling or buying anything from the borough worth over $5000 dollars, for at least six months after holding office or a borough job. The exception is for a sealed bid sale open to the public. Jensen thought both properties have neighbors on local boards who might be interested in bidding.

The assembly ended up voting to go with an outcry auction for the parcel at 700 Sandy Beach by outcry auction on a 5-2 vote with Chelsea Tremblay and Dave Kensinger voting no. Tremblay explained she didn’t want to exclude the neighbors but was in favor of selling the land.

“If this seems like were bouncing around between things that’s because it seems like we kind of are when it comes to doing land sales as a borough but I think that there’s some kind of beauty in the mess and it just lets things come up as they come up per the participating public,” Tremblay said.

After that change, the votes were unanimous to sell both parcels. The assembly agreed the public auction will be at the assembly’s May 2nd meeting at noon.

Assembly member Chelsea Tremblay is a volunteer and former intern at KFSK where this story was produced.