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

 
 

Neighbors critical of rezone plan

 


A potential rezone on the east side of Chilkat Lake Road wouldn’t address concerns about industrial development in the neighborhood, some residents say.

Based on a recent survey sent out to 60 Chilkat Lake Road property owners, the Haines Borough Planning Commission is discussing rezoning the Eagle Vista subdivision from general use to rural residential or mixed use, but leaving the west side of the road as general use.

East side residents said the plan wouldn’t address the issue of preventing a heliport from being built across the road in the future.

“If ever there was to be a heliport that got approved in the (general use area), it would still affect the people that are on this road. Partial rezoning isn’t going to accomplish what we’re trying to accomplish,” said resident Becky Hunt.

Of the 60 surveys sent out, 43 were returned. Nineteen property owners expressed a desire to rezone, 22 wished to remain designated general use, and two requested more information.

“Everyone who’s in this Eagle Vista subdivision either wanted a change of zoning, needed more information, or didn’t return a survey. There were no ‘no’ votes in that area,” said borough planning commission chairman Rob Goldberg.

The commission also sent 13 surveys out to Carr’s Cove property owners. Seven surveys were returned with three opting for rezone, three for general use, and one requesting more information.

Property owners in Eagle Vista subdivision approached the commission requesting a rezone of the area after a proposed heliport project narrowly failed last winter.

Southeast Alaska Backcountry Adventures (SEABA) co-owners Scott Sundberg and Nick Trimble unsuccessfully applied for a permit to build a heliport on Sundberg’s property at .6 Mile Chilkat Lake Road for helicopter skiing tours. Many area residents were unhappy with the potential heliport, citing decreased property values and increased noise.

Resident Erika Merklin said zoning half the road as rural residential and the other half as general use is no solution.

Merklin owns property next to Sundberg. “If right across the road there could someday be a heliport, the issue is still the same as it always has been,” she said.

Hunt said the planning commission’s denial of SEABA’s request for a conditional use permit doesn’t mean the issue is dead.

“The thought is that some other company could come along and try to revisit this at another time. The rezoning, the people who are in favor of that, are trying to protect ourselves from having to go through that again with SEABA or any other heli-ski company,” Hunt said.

Goldberg said the obvious division between sides – one side of the road nearly unanimously favoring rural residential and a large majority on the other side favoring general use – is a unique chance to placate both sides.

“I think we have an opportunity here to give folks on one side of the road what they want and folks on the other side of the road what they want,” Goldberg said.

The planning commission sent a letter briefly summarizing the survey results and describing the possible rezone to area property owners. The commission will revisit the issue in January.