Owner moves trespassing Ketchikan float houses

KETCHIKAN — The owner of two Ketchikan float houses has towed them off tidelands controlled by the Ketchikan Gateway Borough, which sued to have them removed after the owner moored them there over its objections.

Owner Rob Holston on Monday towed the float houses from the Ketchikan airport’s reserve on Gravina Island to Ward Cove.

Borough Manager Dan Bockhorst told the Ketchikan Daily News the borough continues to seek trespassing damages and punitive damages.

“We were asking the court to assure that the float houses were removed by Oct. 1,” Bockhorst said, and the borough’s objective in that regard has been accomplished.

A hearing remains scheduled for Wednesday in Ketchikan District Court, Bockhorst said.

Holston earlier this year contacted Airport Manager Mike Carney and asked permission to move the float houses across Tongass Narrows to the airport tidelands. The request was rejected, but Holston towed them across anyway in early September.

He offered to pay mooring fees, but borough officials said no. They said the homes could disintegrate and create a hazard to navigation.

The borough issued him two $200 citations and sued for the houses’ removal.

The two houses are part of a float house village used by loggers affiliated with the Ketchikan pulp mill before it closed.

Holston says he has put $450,000 into a project he calls Loggerville that was intended to be a tourist attraction in Ward Cove.

But after the cove changed hands between the borough and a couple of private entities, it was unclear where the village would end up.

Ward Cove’s current owners have agreed to accommodate Loggerville until Holston decides its future.

“We have use for the property outside of what he had intended to use it for,” David Spokely said. “He is looking at disposing of everything. He’s still in the process of actually moving all of the stuff at this time.”

Holston said he moved the houses onto the tidelands to make repairs that could be done only while the houses were grounded.

“I tried to give reasons as to why I felt I was limited in my decisions,” Holston said. “I still think there’s room for a change of mindset.”

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Information from: Ketchikan (Alaska) Daily News, http://www.ketchikandailynews.com

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