Deadline for awnings, signs on Main Street


October 27, 2011

Some residents have opted to cut awnings and balconies off their buildings rather than pay the State of Alaska $100 per year for infringing on its right-of-way.

The Department of Transportation informed Fuzzy von Stauffenberg that the fence and trellis that held up her flower displays in front of the old commissioner’s courthouse and customs buildings along Main Street near Third Ave. had to go.

"I couldn’t even keep them by paying the $100. The DOT is not interested in fences on its right-of-way," she said.

The state notified Main Street and Second Avenue property owners in April that signs and other moveable objects in its right-of-way had to be removed, and structural elements like awnings would be permitted for a $100, annual fee.

DOT said abatement of the 32 encroachments was a condition of federal funding for improvements planned for state-owned roads next year.

Stauffenberg received a free beautification permit to keep her tiger lilly bulbs in the ground there. "That’s how it is. I can still hang flowers somewhere else. I’m going to have to figure out what I’m going to do. I don’t know yet what I’m going to do."

She cut the awning off the old Catalyst Restaurant building, rather than pay $100 annually to keep it there.

Neighbor Cliff Thomas lopped the awning off the front of his building that also served as a balcony, as well as a roof over, it rather than pay the state $200 for them.

"I said to heck with it. I don’t want to deal with them. I’m not going to miss it, but it’s gone, and I’m not going to build it back, either," Thomas said.

Main Street merchants and others, however, appear to be willing to pay for their overhangs. All but three permit applications for awnings have been signed, paid for, and returned to the state, said Diane Powell, DOT property manager for Southeast.

DOT has asked business owners who want to take their signs down themselves to do so by the end of October or agree to allow the state to take them down. "Everybody who has a sign has agreed either to take them down or have us do it," Powell said.

There’s no allowance for signs in the right-of-way and property owners who leave theirs up without notifying the state will likely be billed by the state for their removal, she said. "If they’re taken down under duress, then they’re probably going to get billed."

The state will take down signs next spring, in advance of construction, Powell said.

The state will start the same process of eliminating encroachments along Beach and Front streets next year, Powell said.




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