Part of country-western singer Zac Brown’s log home is visible from Dorothy Drive overlooking Kachemak Bay in Homer, Alaska in this photo taken on July 9, 2018. A pedestrian easement to the right in this photo runs between Brown’s property and his neighbor. Brown and other neighbors at the end of the rural road have petitioned to vacate a north-south section line easement that crosses Dorothy Drive and also runs south to a neighboring subdivision. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Part of country-western singer Zac Brown’s log home is visible from Dorothy Drive overlooking Kachemak Bay in Homer, Alaska in this photo taken on July 9, 2018. A pedestrian easement to the right in this photo runs between Brown’s property and his neighbor. Brown and other neighbors at the end of the rural road have petitioned to vacate a north-south section line easement that crosses Dorothy Drive and also runs south to a neighboring subdivision. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Dorothy Drive neighbors seek to vacate section line easement

The Alaska Department of Natural Resources has issued a preliminary decision to vacate a section line that goes through the Dorothy Drive neighborhood below East Skyline Drive.

In an April 4 report signed by Gwen Gervelis, chief of the survey section, Division of Mining, Land and Water, the DNR recommends vacating a north-south section line that runs between property owned by country-western singer Zac Brown and his neighbor, Richard Koskovich. Brown, Koskovich, and Peter and Kathleen Zuyus — whose property borders the section line on the north side of Dorothy Drive — petitioned DNR to vacate the section line.

The department seeks public comments on the proposed section line easement vacation, EV-3-299. Comments must be received by 5 p.m. May 9. To be eligible to appeal a decision, parties must submit written comments. Send comments to the Division of Mining, Land and Water, 550 W. 7th Ave., Suite 650, Anchorage AK 99501-3576. The preliminary decision is available online at https://aws.state.ak.us/OnlinePublicNotices/Notices/View.aspx?id=193726. For more information, contact Joseph L. Poydack at 907-375-7733 or email joseph.poydack@alaska.gov.

“If they don’t agree with it, we encourage them to send a written comment in why they oppose the vacation,” said Poydack, a DNR adjudicator. “Or, if they approve the vacation, we’re more than happy to have their comment.”

The petitioners cited public safety concerns for vacating the 30-foot wide section line. The section line between the Brown and Koskovich lots already has been vacated, but a 10-foot wide pedestrian easement remains. They said the section line easement only goes to private property, although it does cross Dorothy Drive.

“Allowing random individual criminal elements unfettered access to residential homes, the owners of which feel is unconscionable,” the petitioners wrote. “One of the resident families has had serious stalking and threats of potential criminal trespass currently and in the past. The section line easement is being used as a means of enforcing those threats.”

The petitioners in the summer of 2018 had sought to vacate the lower end of Dorothy Drive, but withdrew their application with the borough.

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.

Poydack said the section line was established in 1923. Land in the area was conveyed into private ownership in 1948 and 1937, he said. Anybody who bought property after 1923 would have known about the section line easements.

Once comments have been received, Poydack said five state agencies will review the comments and preliminary decision: the Alaska Mental Health Land Trust, Alaska State Parks, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and the regional office of DNR. DOT&PF had concerns about drainage and future utility needs, but did not object when the petitioners agreed to dedicate an alternate easement. The other agencies also did not object.

If after reviewing comments any of the agencies have new objections, a new preliminary decision would be done. The decision also could go back to the petitioners. If the preliminary decision is allowed to become final, anyone objecting can file an appeal with the DNR commissioner, Poydack said.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Planning Commission and the KPB Assembly also would have to sign off on the section line easement vacation.

Reach Michael Armstrong at marmstrong@homernews.com.

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