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

 
 

Floreske plans heliport at 10 Mile

 


A Haines developer is moving forward with plans to build a heliport at 10 Mile Haines Highway.

John Floreske applied Oct. 25 to the Army Corps of Engineers for a permit to use nearly 1,500 cubic yards of fill to create three 59-foot helipads in wetlands along the Haines Highway.

The permit application shows plans for three helipads 250 feet apart, each connected to an existing 1,100-foot gravel roadway by a 39-foot-long ramp.

The fill would affect .34 acres.

In the application, Floreske said the purpose of the heliports is to “provide for the private use of visual flight rules and prior permission required helicopter takeoff and landings.” There is no elaboration in the application about what or who would use the heliports, such as private mining firms or heli-ski companies.

Floreske did not return multiple calls for comment.

Darrell Maple, Floreske’s agent from Lynn Canal Professional Services, would also not elaborate on the project.

“Look at the public notice and it will tell you everything you need to know,” he said.

The public comment period on the permit opened Nov. 1 and closes Nov. 30.

Interim Haines Borough Manager Julie Cozzi said Maple contacted the borough this summer inquiring about what permitting would be required on the borough’s end. Planning and zoning technician Tracy Cui informed Maple that Floreske would need to get a conditional use permit to build on the land, Cozzi said.

“Even if the Army Corps were to give them permission, they would still need a permit from the borough,” Cozzi said.

Planning commissioner Rob Goldberg said a heliport is one of the few developments that require a conditional use permit if the proposed construction is in a general use zone.

Goldberg said he was made aware of Floreske’s application for the Army Corps permit when he was copied on an email between Cozzi and Mayor Stephanie Scott, though he hasn’t heard anything on the issue since.

Cozzi said the borough hasn’t received any paperwork on the heliport project.

“We’re just monitoring it. There is nothing for us to do right now,” she said.

Matthew Brody, a regulatory specialist with the Alaska district of the Corps, said the project requires a Corps permit because it would fill wetlands.

Brody couldn’t estimate when a decision on Floreske’s permit would be made, as submitted comments could influence how long it takes for the Corps to decide. The Corps is not required to respond to or address all comments, though relevant ones will be brought to the attention of Floreske and will need to be addressed prior to the permit being issued, Brody said.

“We’ll make the applicant address the issue that has been raised and that becomes part of our decision-making process,” he said.

According to the permit application, “Any person may request, in writing, within the comment period specified in this notice, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests for public hearings shall state, with particularity, reasons for holding a public hearing.”

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation must also provide a water quality certification for the area for the permit to be issued, Brody said.

To comment on the permit, contact project manager Randal Vigil at 907-790-4491 or randal.p.vigil@usace.army.mil.