Neighborspress city on proposed street vacation

Published on Thu, Sep 15, 2005 by eg Olson

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Neighbors press city on proposed street vacation

By Meg Olson

Over a dozen residents of the Montfort Park area voiced loud disapproval of a city proposal to sell undeveloped street property in their neighborhood that they feel will impact the character of their neighborhood, already being buffeted by development pressure.

“Virtually everyone is opposed to it because it will destroy the buffering trees between those homes and the railway,” said Ruby Street resident Bud Powell at the September 12 city council meeting.

Speakers were initially confused about which of two proposed street vacations in the area they were opposed to: the first for the undeveloped portions of Steubli Avenue, Bennett Avenue and Haws Street between Pike Street and the railway where the Dodd Street station development is being proposed; the second for a portion of Pearl Street and an alley way that cut Jim Lucas’ pie-shaped property north of Hughes Avenue abutting the railroad into three pieces. “The alley and Pearl divide my property,” said Lucas, who is planning to develop the property as Hughes Avenue Cottages. “The alley and the street have never been used and dead-end at the railroad. This has no adverse effect on adjoining property owners because I own the land on all sides of the vacation.”

Neighbors strongly disagreed. “It’s so beautiful right now,” said Bonnie Lang, who had to apologize to council for repeated outbursts. “There’s no need to open up another avenue over the railroad tracks.”

Blaine public works director Steve Banham was quick to try and correct any misunderstanding that the vacation was intended to open the road. “The vacation right goes to abutting property owners who pay the appraised value of the land,” he said. Both the Homestead and the Hughes Avenue vacations were intended to consolidate property slated for development, and the vacations were conditioned on the creation of new roads as part of those development proposals, he added. From the planning and community development department Brent Baldwin said the preliminary plans for the Hughes Avenue project indicated large buffer trees would be retained and that public hearings would precede any approval of the two development proposals.

“The trees are an issue separate from the vacation,” agreed council member Ken Ely making a motion to approve both street vacations. “One retains street-right-of-way for the purpose of making streets.” City staff reports indicated they saw no future need of the property, initially intended to be part of the street system, for any public use.

ouncil member Bonnie Onyon felt that there was a public use for the portion of Pearl Street proposed for vacation. “I think it’s an opportunity for open space,” she said. Council voted 5 to 2. Onyon and Marsha Hawkins opposed.