A committee-of-the-whole meeting has been scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss potential rezoning that would be tied to a new commercial skiing tour ordinance.

The group will gather before their regular meeting as the Haines Borough Assembly.

“If we can get this hammered out at a committee-of-the-whole meeting and even get it just in paperwork to the planning commission so they can review it and hit the ground running at their meeting, I think I’m all for expediting this as much as possible,” member Joanne Waterman said Oct. 12.

Her comment followed discussion of the assembly’s intent to introduce a rezoning ordinance.

Members earlier had considered an agenda item to “repeal permit requirements for heli-ski operations and commercial helicopter tours and add permit requirements for commercial skiing tours.”

According to a report dated Oct. 12 from borough manager Mark Earnest, the tour ordinance had grown from recent discussion that centered on helicopter skiing.

“The focus is now placed on commercial ski tours, rather than helicopters or heli-skiing,” Earnest wrote.

“Since commercial ski tours is defined as downhill skiing, the rules will apply to helicopter-supported ski tours as well as other commercial tours, such as snow-cat (or similar) modes. It should be noted that if such a commercial operation is proposed, it may become necessary to increase the number of ski tour permits and skier days.”

The assembly directed Earnest to include snowboarding in the ordinance wording, which also states, “The ability to avoid crowds of skiers on commercial ski tours will be enhanced if the Borough limits both the number of permitted operators of such tours and also limits the total number of days skied by participants in commercial ski tours.”

The ordinance defines a “skier day” as “one individual skier or snowboarder participating in a commercial ski tour on one particular day or any portion of a day excluding guides” and sets a base limit of “no more than a total of 1,200 skier days” to be “authorized in an initial allocation of skier days.” The season would run from Feb. 1 to May 3.

Tour operators “may request an additional allocation of up to 120 skier days in any one calendar year.”

In his Oct. 12 report, Earnest noted “as currently drafted, there will be a limit of two commercial ski tour permits and no more than one special ski permit granted each year.”

“If we’re going to do two commercial ski permits and that’s it, and that covers no matter how you get up the mountain, I don’t know if that’s right,” said member Scott Rossman. “I don’t know how to separate it, but I don’t think that should be that way.”

Rossman also said he had concerns about zoning, because “to me, all those mountains over there are ‘general use.’”

“That’s a big worry to me, that by doing this we limit economic opportunities up there, and make it only commercial recreation,” he said.

Member Jerry Lapp said he agreed with Rossman about problems that could arise from prohibiting non-recreational uses in some areas.

“That tells me if you go and make that mountaintop, say they’re drilling on there, and now they want to mine it, they’re not going to be able to do it under this here, the way I’m reading this, unless I’m reading it wrong,” Lapp said. “I like general use, just the way it is.”

Earnest said, “The use is where people ski, so by definition we’re not going to be building shopping centers and commercial districts, residential and that sort of thing.These would be your skiing areas, and it does not prohibit other recreational uses in those areas.”

He said the assembly would have to consider potential mountain development, such as for timber.