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

Planners dig into comprehensive plan review


The Haines Borough Planning Commission had doubts Tuesday about how many projects in the 2025 Comprehensive Plan the borough can actually complete.

“The list was so long and the borough just doesn’t have money to put into a lot of these things,” said commission chair Rob Goldberg.

The commission barely scratched the surface of an ongoing 2016-2017 comprehensive plan review during the hour-long workshop. Commissioners spent nearly 10 minutes in silence reviewing a document of suggestions – collected as part of phase one of the review - from 18 anonymous responders about the Action Summary.

The Action Summary outlines the actionable goals and objectives of the comprehensive plan. The full plan contains the context and rationale for the goals, objectives, actions and maps found in the Action Summary.

The summary is subdivided into categories, and goals are listed under each. The categories include: Haines Borough government, economic development, transportation, land use and future growth, parks, recreation and open space, utilities, public safety, community services and education.

Borough planner Holly Smith compiled a 10-page document of markups, in which commenters deemed items on the summary as completed objectives, suggested removals and suggested additions.

Some completed or in-progress objectives in the review include installing handicap access to the Sheldon Museum, updating and unifying borough codes and permitting or installing an enhanced 911 system.

Some items suggested for removal from the Action Summary include maintaining or enhancing specific fish habitat, widening Main Street sidewalks and planning for pool replacement.

Some suggested additions are to support economic activity to attract young families, maintain and expand public transportation services and create a teen center.

The group was quick to notice there were more items on the suggested removals list than any other category.

Commissioner Lee Heinmiller said some of those items may not need to be totally removed, but instead will assume a low priority when the commission dives deeper into review.

“We do need to be more concise,” said commissioner Brenda Josephson, adding that the economy is only going to get worse. Assembly member Margaret Friedenauer, who attended the workshop, agreed the Action Summary should be more specific.

Despite a long removal list, Goldberg and Smith both spoke on the borough’s success in a long list of projects that are either completed or in progress.

“A lot of people have pride in this plan,” Smith said. “This community really accomplished a lot in five years.”

The group agreed to take a closer look and prioritize projects in the Action Summary in a second workshop next month. They mentioned prioritizing projects by timeline for completion, cost, urgency, practicality or minor vs. major.

Sheinberg Associates, the firm that served as the planning consultant and project manager for the comprehensive plan in 2011 and 2012, will also help with the 2016-2017 review.

The public is invited to share its input on the preliminary markup of the Action Summary and the process to revise it. The comment period ends on Thursday, Dec. 22. A copy of the first markups and the comprehensive plan can be found on the borough website.

“The comprehensive plan is not for (the planning commission),” Heinmiller said. “It’s for industry, business and people who are going to move here.”


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