A group of Dorothy Drive property owners who had sought to have the state vacate a section-line easement in the East Skyline Drive area have filed a petition with the Kenai Peninsula Borough seeking its approval of the easement. The property owners also want to have a borough pedestrian easement vacated that connects the southern end of the section-line easement to Dorothy Drive.
The Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission holds a public hearing on the petition at 7:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 12, at the borough administration building, 144 N. Binkley Street, in Soldotna.
In July of 2018, Dorothy Drive landowners Zac Brown (under his corporate name Spotty Merle LLC, care of Southern Ground), Richard Koskovich, and Peter and Kathleen Zuyus asked the state to vacate about 830 feet of a section line running north-south from Plunging Way to just below Dorothy Drive between the Brown and Koskovich property and another 720 feet running along the western edge of the Zuyus lot. The petitioners cited public safety concerns for why they wanted the easement vacated, asserting that “one of the resident families has had serious stalking and threats of potential criminal trespass currently and in the past.”
Part of the section line between the Koskovich and Brown properties had been vacated in an earlier decision in the 1990s, but the borough kept a 20-foot wide pedestrian easement.
In the borough petition, the applicants also cited public safety as the main reason to vacate the section line.
“Safety and security are paramount to the community,” they wrote. “Allowing random individual criminal elements unfettered access to residential homes, the owners of which feel is unconscionable. One of the resident families has had serious stalking and threats of criminal trespass currently and in the past. Approval of this vacation will substantially reduce those threats and potential criminal activity.”
In a July 2018 petition to make the lower end of Dorothy Drive private, petitioners cited Brown’s celebrity status as a popular Country Western musician for why they wanted the road closed.
“Due to his celebrity status, people are inundating this dead-end street with curiosity seekers, autograph hounds and some with criminal intent,” the petition read. “Many are being sent here by instigators from outside the area.”
The petition to close the road was later withdrawn.
Under the State of Alaska petition process to vacate a section line easement, applicants can file a petition with the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, but the state won’t issue a final finding until the local platting authority has issued conditions of approval. In April, the state issued a preliminary decision recommending vacating the section-line easement and asked for public comments. Of 86 people commenting, 78 opposed the vacation. DNR Commissioner Corre Feige granted a petition to temporarily close the easement, but rescinded that closure after an appeal.
Users of the section-line easement seek to keep access open. The Dorothy Drive easements relate to a historic trail, the Mary Lane Trail. According to a 1994 Homer Public Library Top Drawer Collection book by Ohlson Mountain Road resident Milli Martin, “The Mary Lane Trail: History and Use,” the trail dates back to at least 1917. At that time Jack Dietz used a trail along Bear Canyon to get from his homestead near Wasabi’s on East End Road to hunt moose in the area. Martin cites more than 62 people who used the trail up until 1994 when she wrote her book.
Anyone wishing to testify before the planning commission on the petition can speak at the Aug. 12 meeting. Written comments also can be mailed to the attention of Jordan Reif, Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission, 144 Binkley Street, Soldotna, Alaska 99669 or sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or faxed to 907-714-2378.
Comments should be received by Aug. 9. For more information, contact Reif at 907-714-2200 or toll-free at 800-478-4441 or email email@example.com.