Nome Common Council approves rezoning old hospital site
The Nome Common Council Monday evening voted to change zoning around the old hospital to make the site at Fifth Avenue and Bering Street more attractive to prospective buyers.
Late last month, Sen. Donny Olson asked the Nome Planning Commission to approve a change of zones from General Use to Commercial, a move that he said would more likely attract developers for the complex covering 12 city lots. The building has remained empty except for occupants identified as “caretakers.”
The site is owned by G-O Corp., comprising Jim Gribbens of California and Olson, with additional investment from entrepreneur Sue Nowland of Anchorage.
Norton Sound G-O Development has attempted to market the building locally and statewide for three years, without serious nibbles, Olson said. He attributed lack of interest to lack of commercial zoning and expanded possibilities for commercial enterprises, although zoning law would allow some commercial activities in the General Use zone if an owner went to the city to obtain a conditional use permit for a specific operation.
Members of the Nome Planning Commission agreed at an Aug. 30 meeting, and passed their recommendation for a zoning change to the council for final approval.
The council Monday voted 5-1 for changing the site to Commercial Zone, and changing the property across the street from General Use to Residential Zone.
Councilman Tom Sparks cast the nay vote.
He did not approve changing a zone to on speculation concerning an unknown buyer for an unknown use of the property, Sparks said.
Way back in the 1970s, the area was commercial and should stay that way, Councilman Louis Green Sr. observed.
An ordinance to block the sale of small containers of liquor in the downtown area did not do so well, with the council voting 4 to 2 against the ordinance. The measure would have prohibited the sale of containers smaller than a “fifth” in the area south of Third Avenue. Anchorage has such a measure, but the Nome panel went along with testimony from Tim Brown, manager of Nome Liquor on Front Street, who said inebriates pool their money to get the bigger jugs, and do not buy the small single serving bottles.
The police cannot criminalize and charge inebriates on public drunkenness, according to Chief John Papasodora, Nome Police Dept., as alcoholism has been designated a disease and punishment has been forbidden by state law. Possible prevention according to Papasodora would be removing open containers as soon as possible and making alcohol more difficult to procure.
“Alcohol is a very staggering problem in this community,” Papasodora declared, that makes a very significant draw on the city’s resources, according to rising numbers of calls to police for intervention and emergency response for inebriates lying on the street. Papasodora commended Community Service Officer Carl Putman for “helping these people.”
In other business, the council:
• Approved appointment and payment of election judges and clerks to serve at the 2016 municipal election. The electors will be the following: James White, chairperson and judge; Erin Lillie, inspector and judge; Julia Farris, judge; and Shirley Tisdale and Francis Alvanna as clerks. Judges will receive $11 an hour and clerks $10.50 an hour, a dollar more per hour than State of Alaska pays its electors.
• Authorized the city to issue general obligation refunding bonds not to exceed $800,000 to refund certain general obligation bonds of the city and to authorize their sale. Translation: The transaction will result in a savings to the city and taxpayers of approximately $45,000 in interest payment based on current market values. The city issued the bonds in 2000 to garner $2.2 million for financing certain improvements at Nome schools.
• Learned that James Fejes, who has applied for a license to cultivate and sell marijuana in a retail operation in the former Anchor Liquor Store, does indeed, comply with the state requirement for distance from Check Point Youth Center. At the last council meeting, the council, which serves as local marijuana control board, decided to file a formal protest against Fejes’ application. The council will have his application to study at its next meeting, Fejes said. To achieve the 500 feet required between the store and the youth center, Fejes will use another entrance farther away and reserve the front door of the marijuana establishment for emergency exit only.
• Adopted an ordinance allowing city employees who also hold public office as elected or appointed officials to collect their city salaries as well as the small stipend of about $40 per month due officials. They may not collect double insurance and retirement credit.
During Mayor’s comments, Richard Beneville appointed Kitty Scott to fill a vacancy on Nome Museum and Library Commission left by resignation of Commissioner Sue Steinacher. Ginny Emmons, granddaughter of Carrie M. McLain, after whom the museum is named, and John Handeland also applied. Handeland withdrew his name after seeing that there were ample qualified applicants for the seat.
During public comment period at the beginning of the meeting, Dave Csiki took the podium to lodge a complaint concerning deportment of council members. “I’m here to shut someone’s [bleep] in a drawer,” he said. “I’d like to see more appropriate behavior from all of you. There will be no more comment to discourage citizens from participating in public comment.”
Csiki cited Councilman Stan Andersen’s comment to him during a break a previous council meeting that if Csiki continued to “hang around here, I’m going to put you back on the abatement list.”
He had retained an attorney, Csiki said. “Better answer your phones, because I am seeking injunctive relief from you,” Csiki said.
Csiki took the podium again at the end of the meeting to thank the Nome Police Dept. for helping to clear the inebriates from Perkins Plaza next to his building on Front Street. He also asked the council and the public for input on future design for the historic area prominent in photos at the finish of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race.
Fall Cleanup Week will occur Oct. 10 through Oct. 15. The “You call, we haul” program will be in effect, but no dump trucks would be stationed about the town, according to Tom Moran, city manager.