Legislature(2005 - 2006)CAPITOL 17

04/23/2005 02:00 PM House TRANSPORTATION

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Note Time Change --
Moved CSHB 279(TRA) Out of Committee
Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled
Heard & Held
HB 279 - OUTDOOR ADVERTISING; ENCROACHMENTS                                                                                   
2:25:16 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR GATTO  announced that the  next order of  business would                                                               
be HOUSE  BILL NO. 279 "An  Act relating to encroachments  in the                                                               
right-of-way of a highway."                                                                                                     
REPRESENTATIVE BILL  STOLTZE, Alaska  State Legislature,  said he                                                               
lives in  a community with  a highway going  through it.   It was                                                               
once  more scenic,  he added,  opining that  easements have  been                                                               
given  out   by  the  Department   of  Transportation   &  Public                                                               
Facilities (DOT&PF) in  an antiquated way.  Some  easement are 50                                                               
feet and  some are 300  feet, and the  community is looking  at a                                                               
potential expansion.  Some landowners  have encroachments such as                                                               
lawns.   He  said HB  279 "grandfathers"  in those  encroachments                                                               
that  don't interfere  with possible  construction or  impede the                                                               
state's interests.  He said it is a huge issue in Chugiak.                                                                      
2:28:48 PM                                                                                                                    
CO-CHAIR  GATTO  asked   if  the  bill  runs   afoul  of  federal                                                               
requirements, thus limiting Alaska's potential funding.                                                                         
REPRESENTATIVE STOLTZE  said he  has worked  with agencies  in an                                                               
effort to craft the legislation so as not to run into problems.                                                                 
2:29:50 PM                                                                                                                    
JOHN   MACKINNON,   Deputy   Commissioner,  Highways   &   Public                                                               
Facilities,   Office   of   the   Commissioner,   Department   of                                                               
Transportation  & Public  Facilities (DOT&PF),  said that  HB 279                                                               
provides clarification  and gives  the department the  ability to                                                               
permit  outdoor advertising  within the  right-of-way, which,  to                                                               
date, has been prohibited by  state statute.  "There are probably                                                               
somewhere in the  order of under 100 of these,  within the right-                                                               
of-way, throughout  the state, and  ... they've become  a problem                                                               
for us and they've been a problem  for years," he added.  He said                                                               
many of the signs that encroach  have been removed, but there are                                                               
many  still  remaining,  and  they should  be  permitted  as  the                                                               
encroachments occurred  in good  faith.  "When  you've got  a 300                                                               
foot right-of-way,  and the road  and its  improvements encompass                                                               
100 feet of it [with] the 200 feet  on the outboard side - or 100                                                               
on   each  outboard   side  -   what's  the   harm  in   allowing                                                               
public/private  use of  that  area,"  he said.    "We do  support                                                               
this," he  added, but the  DOT&PF is waiting for  a determination                                                               
from  the  [Federal   Highway  Administration  (FHWA)]  regarding                                                               
outdoor advertising.                                                                                                            
CO-CHAIR GATTO  asked what would  happen if both the  bill passes                                                               
and the state wants to use the right-of-way.                                                                                    
MR. MACKINNON  said that people  would be required to  remove the                                                               
encroachments, adding  that it's probably a  cleaner situation to                                                               
have  the  encroachments  identified  and permitted.    Any  such                                                               
permitting  agreement could  stipulate what  would happen  should                                                               
the state decide to use the right-of-way.                                                                                       
CO-CHAIR  GATTO  referred  to   a  handout  in  members'  packets                                                               
containing  proposed  changes  to   HB  279;  that  handout  read                                                               
[original punctuation provided]:                                                                                                
     Page 2, line 2, following "right-of-way"                                                                                   
          Delete "who erected"                                                                                                  
          Insert "for"                                                                                                          
     Page 2, line 12, following "fee"                                                                                           
          Insert "not to exceed $100"                                                                                           
CO-CHAIR GATTO  referred to the  proposed change to page  2, line                                                               
2, of  the bill as Amendment  1.  [Although no  formal motion had                                                               
been  made,]  he  asked  whether there  were  any  objections  to                                                               
adopting  Amendment  1.    There  being  none,  Amendment  1  was                                                               
CO-CHAIR GATTO  referred to the  proposed change to page  2, line                                                               
12, of the bill as Amendment 2.                                                                                                 
[An  unidentified  speaker in  the  audience  made comments,  but                                                               
those comments were not picked up clearly by the microphones.]                                                                  
MR. MACKINNON noted  that the DOT&PF's regulations  provide for a                                                               
$250 nonrefundable application fee for any encroachment permit.                                                                 
CO-CHAIR GATTO  [although no formal  motion had been  made] asked                                                               
whether there  were any objections  to the adoption  of Amendment                                                               
2.  There being none, Amendment 2 was adopted.                                                                                  
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER asked whether there was a fiscal note.                                                                   
MR. MACKINNON said  the DOT&PF is not sure at  this time what the                                                               
fiscal note  would be, but predicted  that it would not  be much,                                                               
since the  department would most  likely deal  with encroachments                                                               
on  a  project-by-project basis.    He  offered his  belief  that                                                               
Section 2  of the  bill stipulates  that the  burden of  proof of                                                               
"that three-part test" lies with the department.                                                                                
CO-CHAIR  GATTO  offered  a   hypothetical  example  wherein  one                                                               
applies for and receives an  encroachment permit and then chooses                                                               
to erect  a 12  by 24  foot advertising sign.   He  asked whether                                                               
such would be "grandfathered" in.                                                                                               
MR.  MACKINNON explained  that the  bill  specifically says  that                                                               
only the encroachments  that existed on the  Act's effective date                                                               
would be  grandfathered in.   He  added, "We  are in  the process                                                               
this  year of  doing  a video  cataloging  of the  rights-of-way,                                                               
which   would   show   the    existing   encroachments   or   any                                                               
structure/improvement  located on  the  right-of-way; that  would                                                               
allow us to have a date at which the encroachment [existed]."                                                                   
CO-CHAIR GATTO ascertained that the  bill doesn't have a specific                                                               
effective date.                                                                                                                 
2:37:29 PM                                                                                                                    
LINDA  KOVAC,  Secretary/Treasure,  Board of  Directors,  Chugiak                                                               
Community Council, Municipality of  Anchorage (MOA), relayed that                                                               
the Old Glenn Highway Rehabilitation  Project - Alaska Department                                                               
of Transportation & Public Facilities  (DOT&PF) State Project No.                                                               
52515  - is  an  upgrade to  the Old  Glenn  Highway, which  runs                                                               
through  Chugiak.    The  primary  scope  of  this  project,  she                                                               
continued, is to add shoulders, a  pathway, and turn lanes at the                                                               
major intersections.   Chugiak has been pushing  for this upgrade                                                               
to increase safety for over 10  years, and is pleased the work is                                                               
being addressed;  however, the history  of this  road's right-of-                                                               
way is complex, and many  costly encroachments have been built in                                                               
this  right-of-way over  the  last 50  years.   The  right-of-way                                                               
itself  varies between  60 and  300 feet,  with several  sections                                                               
that are 200 feet.                                                                                                              
MS.  KOVAC  relayed that  the  DOT&PF  has informed  the  Chugiak                                                               
Community Council that all encroachments  will have to be removed                                                               
due  to  federal  funding  requirements,   and  its  position  on                                                               
encroachments is  that if a  person wants  to obtain a  permit to                                                               
have  an encroachment,  the application  will only  be considered                                                               
after  all  existing encroachments  have  been  removed from  the                                                               
entire right-of-way  and the project is  complete.  Additionally,                                                               
the list  of allowable  encroachments is  minimal.   For example,                                                               
some permitted  uses could  be grass, or  flowers, or  parking in                                                               
excess   of   what's   required  for   a   particular   property.                                                               
Furthermore, encroachments  for commercial  purposes will  not be                                                               
allowed.   She mentioned that  the DOT&PF has relayed  that since                                                               
the  Old   Glenn  Highway's  right-of-way  has   been  thoroughly                                                               
researched and  surveyed, the right-of-way  must be  enforced due                                                               
to  possible liability  issues.   She  offered her  understanding                                                               
that  this   means  that  all   encroachments  must   be  removed                                                               
regardless of whether the project continues.                                                                                    
MS. KOVAC predicted  that if the encroachments  are removed, this                                                               
will impact  residences and business adjacent  to "this five-mile                                                               
stretch of road."   Such an impact will cause  hardships and some                                                               
entities will  go out of business  due to a loss  of parking, and                                                               
some entities will have to find  new land on which to install new                                                               
septic  systems  or   water  wells.    "We   wonder  why  certain                                                               
encroachments  would  have   to  be  removed  if   they  are  not                                                               
obtrusive;   House  Bill   279  would   allow  some   unobtrusive                                                               
encroachments  to  remain,  perhaps like  wells,  lift  stations,                                                               
signs,  parking, and  others," she  remarked, adding,  "this bill                                                               
may   also  reduce   impacts  to   the  Chugiak   Volunteer  Fire                                                               
Department's  Latimer  Fire  Station."     Currently  the  DOT&PF                                                               
information  indicates  that  the right-of-way  line  goes  right                                                               
through the  station house;  additionally, the  station's parking                                                               
area will need to be removed.                                                                                                   
MS. KOVAC  mentioned that HB 279  may also reduce the  impact [of                                                               
the project's encroachment requirements]  on the Chugiak Benefits                                                               
Association [Building]  - which  is a nonprofit  community center                                                               
managed by and belonging to  the communities of Chugiak and Eagle                                                               
River  - particularly  its parking  lots, basketball  courts, and                                                               
fenced-in play  areas.  She  said she  hopes that HB  279 passes,                                                               
and characterized [the bill] as "just common sense."                                                                            
2:40:48 PM                                                                                                                    
BRUCE BARTLEY, Chief, Chugiak Volunteer  Fire and Rescue Company,                                                               
Inc.,  Anchorage  Fire   Department,  Municipality  of  Anchorage                                                               
(MOA),  urged the  committee to  support HB  279.   He said  that                                                               
Latimer Fire Station 35 is located  on the Old Glenn Highway, and                                                               
that  depending  upon  which  map  one  looks  at,  the  DOT&PF's                                                               
proposed  right-of-way  is  either right  outside  the  station's                                                               
front door,  or runs  right through the  middle of  the building.                                                               
He relayed  that the  Chugiak Volunteer  Fire and  Rescue Company                                                               
has occupied the aforementioned building  for more than 50 years;                                                               
the land  the structure sits on  is leased by the  Bureau of Land                                                               
Management  (BLM)  to  the  Chugiak  Volunteer  Fire  and  Rescue                                                               
Company  in perpetuity  for as  long as  the structure  remains a                                                               
fire station,  and the structure sits  118 feet from the  edge of                                                               
the  existing   pavement.    In  conclusion,   he  described  the                                                               
structure's attributes and  some of the activities  that occur in                                                               
it, and urged the committee to adopt the legislation.                                                                           
CO-CHAIR GATTO  asked Mr.  Bartley whether the  loss of  100 feet                                                               
between the  station and  the road  would compromise  the Chugiak                                                               
Volunteer  Fire  and  Rescue Company's  ability  to  perform  its                                                               
MR. BARTLEY  replied that  the loss  of 100  feet might  create a                                                               
safety problem when pulling out onto the road.                                                                                  
CO-CHAIR GATTO  asked whether there  is a flashing  light located                                                               
at that station.                                                                                                                
MR. BARTLEY  said there  is not,  but mentioned  that there  is a                                                               
DOT&PF  sign,  approximately 100  yards  down  the road,  warning                                                               
approaching traffic of the station's presence.                                                                                  
2:43:28 PM                                                                                                                    
DEBBIE  OSSIANDER, Member,  Anchorage  Assembly, Municipality  of                                                               
Anchorage  (MOA),  relayed that  she  has  been hearing  concerns                                                               
regarding the  Old Glenn Highway  project, specifically  that the                                                               
right-of-way encroachment issue would  engender problems for many                                                               
groups  and residences  in her  community should  the project  go                                                               
through as  currently outlined.   After listing  various entities                                                               
that would be  affected by the project, she said  that there is a                                                               
need for flexibility  so as to make the project  workable for the                                                               
community.  She  characterized HB 279 as a  wonderful approach to                                                               
the potential problems surrounding  encroachments on both the Old                                                               
Glenn   Highway  and   the  Seward   Highway,  adding   that  she                                                               
wholeheartedly supports the bill.                                                                                               
CO-CHAIR GATTO  mentioned that  members' packets  contain letters                                                               
of support for the legislation  from both the Chugiak-Eagle River                                                               
Chamber of Commerce and the Chugiak Community Council.                                                                          
2:46:20 PM                                                                                                                    
REPRESENTATIVE KAPSNER  moved to report  HB 279, as  amended, out                                                               
of   committee   with    individual   recommendations   and   the                                                               
accompanying  fiscal  notes.   There  being  no  objection,  CSHB
279(TRA) was reported out of committee.                                                                                         

Document Name Date/Time Subjects