Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

Borough to review subdivision rules


November 10, 2011

Haines Borough officials say they’ll be reviewing their rules on subdivision approval to eliminate questions that arose in the past two weeks concerning the Chilkoot Estates subdivision.

The planning commission recently accepted a final plat of the subdivision. Roads and utilities include a sewage lift station and a "Y"-shaped intersection where the subdivision’s north outlet meets East Fair Drive.

The pump station was added to the project at the request of the Haines Borough because a gravity-fed line to the sewage plant would need to be buried at a depth of about 28 feet, said Scott Hansen, an official with subdivision builder Chilkoot Indian Association.

"All development in this subdivision is in accordance with the planning commission decision, or as amended by the borough administration," Hansen said in a recent letter to the borough. "I have decisions in writing."

The pump station added $75,000 to the project cost, Hansen said in an interview this week. "At the time, the CIA thought that digging deeper (for a gravity-feed line) was the most cost-efficient way to go."

Borough concerns about reaching the line for maintenance prompted the decision for the station, Hansen said.

Haines Borough facilities director Brian Lemcke said there were initial concerns about station operation, including an air lock that caused a toilet to erupt, but Lemcke said the system is working properly. "At some point the borough told (the CIA) what size pumps to put in there," Lemcke said.

The borough also approved the "Y"-shaped intersection, according to Hansen. The state is spending thousands of dollars to eliminate such intersections around town, which are considered unsafe because they put drivers into an oncoming lane of traffic. A 90-degree, "T"-shaped intersection is preferred.

Hansen said the tribe’s engineers recommended the Y-shape because the intersection is the junction of a road to the subdivision with a driveway to the fairgrounds. Engineers wouldn’t put a 90-degree junction there because it would be interrupting a roadway with a driveway, he said. "The legal status is that’s a driveway."

Hansen said the CIA’s alignment also conformed with federal standards. State fair officials requested that the subdivision’s north outlet meet East Fair Drive at a 90-degree angle.

The CIA has placed a stop sign at the intersection for traffic exiting the fair on East Fair Drive.

"There’s not a lot we can do about the way it was designed and approved," said the borough’s Lemcke. "That’s how (the CIA) had it submitted and that’s how it was approved at some point."

He said the borough may elect to move the stop sign to the subdivision road once it takes ownership there.

CIA’s Hansen said the tribe agreed to give up land to the borough that may be used to change the intersection in the event East Fair Drive is extended.

Planning commissioner Donnie Turner said he thought the group overlooked a potential problem with a power pole and sidewalk on the southeast corner of the intersection that would need to be moved if East Fair Drive is extended. "The issue with me with the sidewalk is that it basically blocks the easement."

Facilities director Lemcke said some last-minute concerns were due to confusion about when changes were made to subdivision plans. "We need to review subdivision rules and simplify them to develop a checklist so every time we have a change of staff, we don’t lose track of it."

Planning commissioner Turner said he was supportive of the CIA project. "The actual subdivision itself is done real well. We just have to iron out how changes happen. We don’t review a lot of subdivisions like this, so we need to review some of the rules."

The borough hasn’t yet accepted ownership of the roads and utilities. Lemcke said he believed that was a "formality" at this point.


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