The Online Alaska
Airstrip and Subdivision
Draw Crowd in Talkeetna
Birch Creek Landing Plans Under Platting Officer
By John R. Moses
ALASKA PIONEER PRESS
TALKEETNA – Something unusual happened at the Talkeetna Community Council,
Inc.’s October meeting -- a heated discussion that raged for an hour and a half over
construction of an airstrip this summer and creation of an adjoining subdivision off
Birch Creek Boulevard.
About 30 people came to the Talkeetna Public Library that night to discuss a
subdivision of land sought from the Borough by two local men developing a fly-in
community. Their plans were withdrawn last year due to public opposition.
Business partners Tim Costello and Drew Haag of Creative Investments, LLC built
the airstrip after dropping plans for their Birch Creek Landing subdivision, and now
want to create a less formal kind of subdivision called a “waiver” subdivision.
Instead of creating 19 lots all at once, they hope to use a Borough option that allows
them to create three separate lots no larger and 5 acres each. Those lots could be
further subdivided into those original 19 lots.
“No comment,” said Costello when asked about future plans for the subdivision.
Haag could not be reached for comment.
The Community Council serves as an advisory body to the Borough, and is asked to
weigh in on proposals within its jurisdiction going before Borough boards. A small
portion of the agenda, noting a request for a waiver subdivision of the site of the
Birch Creek Landings subdivision, became most of the meeting.
Council Chair Loudon Wilson said the debate was heated at times. The council
unanimously voted to send a letter to the Borough stating that the crowd was split
and there was no clear community consensus about the project.
Partisans from both sides clashed Oct. 6 over the development this summer of an
airstrip on the land, and the developers’ use of the waiver subdivision process to
accomplish their goals in stages. Some fear the development would create more
noise in what is now a quiet area.
Among them was Ruth Wood. She said neighbors to the west of the property did
not oppose the development, but said the impacts would be the largest for people on
the north and south end and to the east. “I own the property on the south end of the
airstrip,” Wood said.
Outgoing Council member Rob Holt said some neighbors of the development were
enthusiastic about the work that has been done and do not oppose the waiver
subdivision request. The airstrip has already made life easier for them by creating
easier access and bringing power lines closer.
“Better roads and electricity is what it meant,” said Holt.
Holt said the waiver process is perfectly legal and feels the council vote to send a
letter of “no consensus” went in the developers’ favor. He also thinks that those
who opposed the 19-lot development and the waiver request have little to worry
about given the state of the economy; his forecast is for slow lot sales and small
planes as occasional users.
Whatever the Borough platting officer rules about the waiver subdivision request, it
could face a lengthy appeals process if opponents take the matter to the Platting
Board and to the Board of Adjustments.
The airstrip itself is a done deal.
The strip is officially logged with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as of
June 5, 2008, as an operational airport that sits at an altitude of about 400 feet
above sea level. It is listed as being located six miles away from Talkeetna, and has
the FAA identifier number of 51AK. Its dimensions are listed as 2,680 by 50 feet,
with a turf surface.
Costello is listed as the manager of the private strip, which is equipped with a wind
Outgoing Council member Wendy Battino, who missed the Oct. 6 meeting due to a
late flight, said the issue wasn’t on her radar screen as something that would attract
a lot of debate that night. She has visited the area and saw road construction this
summer to the property. She noted that prior to the waiver subdivision request the
developers had seemed willing to work with the community. “They just went ahead
with it, which was a shame,” Battino said.
The contentious meeting happened a day before Billy FitzGerald, Doug Gaulteri and
Sharon Montanigno were elected to the Community Council along with re-elected
incumbent Jok Bondurant. Contender Larry Dearman won 50 percent of the votes,
but that wasn’t enough to capture a seat. Write-in votes were for Aaron Benjamin,
Geri Denkewalter, Arthur Mannix, Pete McCullough, Kathy Trump and Nancy
Trump. Benjamin, along with Holt and Battino, did not run for re-election.
The Susitna Council, formerly the “Y Council,” elects its officers next month.
The home base for
Adventure in the
heart of Talkeetna.
E-mail us here
P.O Box 353,
Talkeetna, AK 99676