SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska


Responding to Complaints
By Jerry Cegelske


February 17, 2011

Sometimes the process of bringing properties into compliance takes time, but through persistence even the most difficult cases can be addressed.  Difficult cases develop over time and can take time to get fully resolved.  As an example, for several years the Borough had received complaints about a residential property along North Tongass.  In response to their complaints, I would tell them of the latest attempts to contact the owner to get the property cleaned up, and then I would check to see what else I could do about it.

I recently got the file out and looked through the paperwork and pictures, noting that the first correspondence that was sent to the property owner was dated February 25, 2005.  This letter, advising the owner that the property was in violation of the Borough Zoning Code, Chapter 60 and the Solid Waste section, Chapter 29, was ignored by the owner.

Later, an envelope with two, $200.00 citations for the violations were sent to the owners address in the Anchorage area.  This was also ignored and was returned to the Borough.

The Borough made several more attempts to contact the owner by letter as the condition of the property continued to deteriorate, with three more citations issued, mailed, and returned in 2006.

From 2008-2010, the Borough continued attempting to contact the property owner, using process servers, in unsuccessful attempts to locate and serve him.

After being unable to serve the owner personally by process server or by mail, the Borough sought and obtained permission from the court to serve notice on the property owner by publication in the newspaper which was done in the late summer of 2010.  Again there was no response from the property owner to the published notice.

After the publication of the notice, the next step was taken with the Borough obtaining an injunction ordering the property owner to clean up the property.

With the property owner failing to respond to the court order, the Borough, with the court’s approval initiated a contract removing the illegal vehicles, equipment and solid waste that was scattered around the property.

It was only later, when the process had been completed, that the property owner contacted the Borough, protesting the Borough’s actions.  This was after all the attempts to contact him and advise him of the need to clean up his property were rejected over a five year period.

Although it must have seemed that the Borough was non-responsive to the neighbor’s complaints, a lot of time and effort were involved in trying to get the property owner to accept responsibility and clean the property up with many meetings between the Law Department and Code Enforcement.

Since the property has been cleaned up, several local property owners have called to express their appreciation that the property was cleaned up, as well as calls of appreciation from several people who drive by the property daily.

The Borough investigates complaints of zoning violations as well as junk and abandoned vehicle, and solid waste complaints.  Your complaints are responded to; it is just that some of them take time due to the circumstances involved.

Jerry Cegelske
Ketchikan Gateway Borough - Code Enforcement Officer
Ketchikan, AK

Received February 15, 2011 - Published February 17, 2011


jpg North Tongass cleanup

jpg North Tongass cleanup

jpg North Tongass cleanup

jpg North Tongass cleanup

jpg End result of cleanup




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Stories In The News
Ketchikan, Alaska