Ramseys: Seek win-win outcome for Raspberry Court

HousingOctober 5, 2013 

We read with interest the article about city plans to house homeless people on transferred federal property off Raspberry Road, near Kincaid Park and south of the Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport (Daily News, Sept. 25).

This reminded us of Chugach Electric's plans in the early 1980s to run a 230KV power line on the edge of Fort Richardson, adjacent to private homes, on the east side of Anchorage.

The Army was concerned about having an electric line where troops trained and fired weapons. Chugach Electric needed the line to supply electricity to our growing city. The homeowners had enjoyed living alongside the Army's undeveloped wooded property and did not want large, four-legged transmission towers erected next to their homes.

With a lot of community involvement, the parties were able to reach an acceptable solution that minimized the effect on homeowners. Perhaps a similar win-win situation will be part of the solution for homeless people, the airport, nearby homeowners and the many recreational users of the park.

Each party potentially affected by the Raspberry Court development has needs and concerns. The airport needs the land for expansion and to provide a buffer. This piece of land resembles a missing puzzle piece of the airport footprint, so it is easy to see the logic of incorporating it.

However, with runway expansion likely to be on the north, and because most people don't live that close to a runway, this land's best use may be as an added buffer between the airport and residential areas. (Click here for more information on the airport master plan.)

The homeless need a place to live and services to help them become productive members of society. As a caring community, we must find a way to help this large group of local people.

The proposed development plan consolidates services and appears well thought out, with special consideration for the area south of Raspberry that is closest to homes.

On the southwest side of the Raspberry Court development, plans call for a cluster of four housing structures, an administrative building and bus stop near the entrance, and gardens and a pedestrian bridge closest to adjoining neighborhoods.

For more information, until the municipal website is up, go to the Sand Lake Community Council website. The Sept. 26 date tab shows a map of the proposed development and a legend for building uses and features. The Sept. 25 date tab has a property brief of the focus, objectives and expected benefits of the Raspberry Court development.

The neighboring homeowners are probably the most concerned about the proposal. Like their 1980 east-side counterparts, they wonder if the proposed development will lower their property values and cost them money when they sell their homes.

After prospective buyers decide they like the inside of a home and its property, their attention turns to the immediate area. In places where a property is next to woods, the typical questions are: Who owns the woods, what could happen to that land, and where is the lot line? The last question helps prospective buyers imagine a worst case scenario: Trees are cut down right up to the property line.

Because buyers fear the unknown, they may not buy the property. Eventually the uncertainty decreases a property's value. A standard solution is to put up a fence to visually obscure objectionable sights and help alleviate security concerns.

However, a property line fence can make a property seem smaller. There are three options to consider. The first is to set a fence well within the proposed 150-foot buffer to create a softer, more visually appealing separation between properties. The second is to make the fence 6 feet high. This is just high enough to discourage moose from jumping but not enough to make the yard feel like a prison. Third is to use black vinyl. A black chain link is not nearly as visible as other fences. We have seen that used frequently in the Lower 48 when they want a fence but don't want to see it easily.

In the Chugach Electric situation of the '80s, a compromise solution was to replace each huge tower with two smaller ones built back into the woods. This minimized the effects on neighboring property owners. Perhaps a well-located fence can be part of the solution for Raspberry Court.


Barbara and Clair Ramsey are local associate brokers specializing in residential real estate. Their column appears every month in the Daily News. Their e-mail address info@ramseyteam.com.

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