Legislature(2009 - 2010)BUTROVICH 205
04/15/2009 05:30 PM JUDICIARY
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HB 49-EMINENT DOMAIN: RECREATIONAL STRUCTURES 6:25:00 PM CHAIR FRENCH announced the consideration of CSHB 49(JUD)am, and stated that it is his great pleasure to welcome Representative Craig Johnson to the committee. Representative Johnson has been very patient and understanding of the difficulty the committee has had in getting a quorum since the committee lost Senator Elton, he said. Several times his bill has been scheduled and not heard. Senator French apologized on behalf of the committee. REPRESENTATIVE CRAIG JOHNSON, sponsor, said legislation similar to HB 49 was brought forth last year and died in the Senate as a result of an amendment that is not contained in this bill. He recounted that the provision of Alaska statute prohibiting the taking of someone's personal residence for recreational purposes via the exercise of eminent domain came about as a result of a case in Connecticut when a city determined it was okay to condemn certain real estate for the purpose of increasing its tax roles. [U.S. Supreme Court case, Kelo v. City of New London]. REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON stated his belief that taking someone's home or recreational property for recreational purposes doesn't rise to the level of being in the best public interest. That is the essence of the bill. However, nothing in HB 49 would preclude the exercise of eminent domain for "traditional" purposes. The bill protects an individual's property that is within 250 feet of their personal residence or recreational structure. That translates into about 5 acres, he said. The impetus for the bill comes from people in Juneau, Fairbanks, Kenai, and Big Lake who are currently building recreational homes that will become their primary residence when they retire. 6:28:37 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI asked how many other states have similar legislation. REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON offered his personal opinion that Alaska is unique. CHAIR FRENCH asked if this committee amended the previous bill. REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON replied the bill was amended in the Senate Finance Committee. SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI said his only concern with the bill is that the public is continually losing access to fishing streams and hunting areas. He highlighted the Kenai River as an example and asked what can be done to ensure that Alaskans continue to have access. REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON explained that the bill does not restrict access and the exclusion is limited to 250 feet from a property owner's physical structure. If, for example, an individual were to buy 1,000 feet along a river and build a house in the middle, just the narrow strip in the center could not be taken. Traditional access is not restricted just as it is not restricted for a primary residence. "You can't restrict access to waters because that's a constitutionally guaranteed right," he emphasized. 6:30:59 PM SENATOR WIELECHOWSKI mentioned a series of lots and asked if the intention is that a trail could come no closer than 250 feet on either side of the structure. REPRESENTATIVE JOHNSON explained that the right-of-way could be for bought or sold but the landowner could not go through a very specific eminent domain process and sue to get the right-of-way back. Also, if a landowner has a series of lots this only applies to the lot upon which the structure is built. 6:31:59 PM ERROL CHAMPION, Associate Broker, Coldwell Banker Race Realty, and member of the Alaska Board of Realtors, stated support for HB 49. CHAIR FRENCH commented that he appreciates that the real estate industry has been quite staunch in its support of these bills. MR. CHAMPION described the bill as good protection for any investor. CHAIR FRENCH closed public testimony and asked the will of the committee. 6:33:00 PM SENATOR MCGUIRE moved to report CS for HB 49 from committee with individual recommendations and attached fiscal note(s). There being no objection, CSHB 49(JUD)am was reported from the Senate Judiciary Standing Committee. At ease 6:33 pm.