FAIRBANKS — The latest proposal to sell 1,482 acres of borough land to Chena Hot Springs Resort owner Bernie Karl drew opposition from some assemblymembers who say it ignores guidelines set by the assembly.
The current proposal is the borough administration’s second try after an initial proposal fell apart when the appraised value came in far above what Karl felt was fair.
Karl proposed the purchase to expand his resort, adding a ski slope, animal viewing and expanded aurora viewing.
The initial appraisal came in at $390 an acre, putting the total sale at $577,980. Karl argued the appraisal had been rigged to a high price and said comparable local sales should be half of the appraisal.
In the aftermath, the Borough Assembly made a motion directing the administration to get a second appraisal of the property and average the two.
The latest proposal by the administration didn’t do that.
Instead, the proposal in front of the Borough Assembly would offer Karl a credit worth $282,720, nearly half of the initial appraised figure, for public use provisions he’s agreed to make to the property.
The change would effectively bring the sale to somewhere that Karl had told the assembly he felt was fair.
Assemblyman Guy Sattley was upset by the administration’s action and seconded a motion by Assemblyman Michael Dukes to table the ordinance as it was introduced.
“This totally ignores what the assembly did,” he said. “Do not advance it. I’ve had it with this.”
A memo to the assembly states that because the assembly’s guidance was “by motion, not by ordinance, it did not legally impose a term of sale that the mayor would be required to incorporate into any subsequently negotiated purchase agreement.”
The ordinance authorizing the sale was introduced during the assembly’s Thursday-night meeting, setting it up for a work session next week and be voted on in two weeks.
Many other members, however, said that they felt it should be moved forward for discussion to give the administration and Karl to make their case for the new plan.
“I think it’s a matter of importance to the borough to have a discussion,” Assemblyman John Davies said. “Whether you like it or not, we should advance it.”
The assembly voted 5-4, with Davies being joined by Assemblymembers Diane Hutchison, Karl Kassel, Van Lawrence and Kathryn Dodge voting “yes.” However, some of those assemblymembers voiced concern about the administration’s actions.
The proposed sale will be up for a work session next week and a public hearing in two weeks.
Contact staff writer Matt Buxton at 459-7544 and follow him on Twitter: @FDNMpolitics.