FNSB Assembly amends Title 17 to ease process of land development after unauthorized subdivisions

Published: Nov. 1, 2023 at 2:57 PM AKDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly has taken action to allow landowners to continue to develop and alter their properties despite decades of potential unauthorized subdivisions stemming from Fairbanks’ history.

In the borough, it is estimated that roughly 10,000 parcels of land, or 20 percent of the total, may have been illegally subdivided during their history of ownership.

Many of these unauthorized divisions of land occurred before the borough was incorporated in 1964.

According to Assembly Member Barbara Haney, “It’s called ‘illegal subdivisions’, but they’re not. They were unauthorized. A lot of people kept calling them illegal. They weren’t. People had transferred them legally, lawfully, by deed, to other people. They just hadn’t gone through the borough platting process.”

Even after establishing platting procedures, the borough was inconsistent in enforcement.

This allowed residents to divide their property without proper documentation. “A lot of those were pipeline era properties, and it had really locked up development in this community,” Haney said.

Much of this activity stopped in the late 1980s, when the borough stepped up enforcement.

However, many current residents are caught unaware that their legally purchased property has a history of undocumented changes. “There were people who had bought these properties, even banks who had financed them, having no idea at all that these had not been approved by the platting board, and so nobody was going anywhere with those. It was just a constant legal battle,” Haney explained.

While the borough has in recent years tried to be lenient toward these property owners, a new amendment to Title 17 in the borough code has cleared up much of the red tape faced by them when trying to develop or alter their property.

The amendment, passed unanimously by the borough assembly on October 19, is designed to better allow development in the borough. Haney asked, “Is it a perfect process? No. But it’s a doggone sight better than what we had before.”

The ordinance was sponsored by Borough Mayor Bryce Ward and Assembly Member Tammie Wilson.

In a statement, Ward said it goes a long way toward correcting issues facing landowners.