Soldotna moves forward to clear ‘nuisance’ property

Soldotna is taking the next step in clearing off a piece of property in town that neighbors have described as an eyesore and a cause of concern.

Members of the Soldotna City Council voted unanimously at their Wednesday meeting to appropriate $25,000 for the removal of what the ordinance text describes as “nuisance materials and nuisance vehicles” from a property on West Riverview Avenue, where a home was destroyed by a fire three years ago. The city had gone to court in 2016 to get the house demolished after trying to work with the property owner to bring it into compliance, and the court gave permission for the city to abate the building.

The council voted in January to appropriate funds to demolish the house, but the court decision that allowed the city to do so only pertained to the building. The home was taken down on Jan. 24.

The same day as the demolition, city staff gave the homeowner a 30-day notice to remove the various leftover material, including vehicles, from the yard, said City Planner John Czarnezki. As of Wednesday, he said it appeared that one vehicle had been removed. Now, the city has the ability to clear the material off the property.

The money appropriated by the council will cover the cost of two Connexes to secure and temporarily store the materials from the yard, Czarnezki said.

“It involves the towing of vehicles and trailers and the hiring of a contractor to physically move the materials from the yard into the Connexes or into a waste receptacle,” he said.

Council member Tim Cashman asked whether there will be a system for determining what materials are saved and which need to be thrown out.

“It is our intent to be on site when the contractor is there and help make those determinations, and we’ll be pretty conservative I think when it comes to materials,” Carnezki said.

The city will hold the materials from the property at a city yard on Funny River Road to give the property owner a chance to reclaim them, Czarneszki said. City Manager Mark Dixson said items will be held for 90 days before the city can dispose of them.

Several residents from the Riverview neighborhood testified at Wednesday’s meeting, thanking the council for moving forward in the process to clean up the property. They mentioned that late-night activity and people coming and going, which they had previously cited as a common occurrence at the damaged house, has all but stopped since the building was taken down.

Czarnezki said the property should be in compliance with city code once the leftover materials and vehicles are removed. Director of Economic Development and Planning Stephanie Queen said it was her understanding that the property is delinquent on taxes, and will go through the borough’s process of tax foreclosure if that status does not change.

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