City looks to settle land dispute with Mental Health

Oct 31, 2017

Bird's-eye view of Homer's harbor and the disputed boundary of lot 42.
Credit Courtesy of the City of Homer

The Homer City Council introduced an ordinance Monday that would settle a four-year land dispute between Homer and the Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office. The Trust Land Office  claims Mental Health owns land at the mouth of Homer’s harbor. If the ordinance is approved, the city would pay about $550,000 for the disputed land.

The disagreement dates back to 2013 when the city requested an easement through a lot on the Homer Spit that the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and Mental Health both own.

Both granted the easement for a walking trail, but Mental Health disagreed with the boundaries of the lot, claiming a baseball bat shaped piece extended into the harbor, nearly blocking access. Mental Health also issued the city a trespassing notice over the issue.

City Manager Katie Koester has been negotiating with Mental Health since she came on in 2015. Koester thinks the city would win a court battle, but said Monday that the benefit would be outweighed by legal fees.

In a memo to the council, Koester also said purchasing the lot could be financially beneficial. Icicle Seafoods’ facility partially sits on the lot in question and the other half of its building is on city land. Icicle leases the disputed land from Mental Health and DNR for $34,000 per year.

A public hearing will be held at the council’s Nov. 27 meeting, where it will also make a final decision.