The Haines Borough Assembly on Nov. 30 again declined to adopt an ordinance that would deter “frivolous” applications for commercial tour permits.

The ordinance has been directed to the borough’s government affairs and services committee, scheduled to meet at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Dec. 14, in the assembly chambers.

The assembly held a third public hearing on Nov. 30 to discuss the proposed ordinance, which would enlarge the waiting period for persons who have had a commercial tour permit suspended or revoked from one year to five years and apply a three-year waiting period to persons whose application for a commercial tour permit has been denied twice.

Andy Hedden of Chilkat Guides had written a letter for the Nov. 9 assembly meeting that said he was concerned by the ordinance’s wording, “No person that has had a permit issued under this title … whose application for a permit has been denied within the previous two years may submit an application for a new permit.”

“Thus, if an established tour operator wants to offer a new tour but the assembly denies the application, the ordinance prevents the operator from applying for any new tour permit – regardless of its individual merit – for two years,” Hedden wrote.

The ordinance had been introduced after the assembly refused to issue a commercial tour permit to Dave Button of Eco Orca. Button said he has gone six years without a tour permit in Haines.

“The concerns regarding possible overly harsh consequences (have) been addressed by requiring two denials within a three-year period before an applicant is ineligible to apply,” Chandler wrote in a Nov. 24 e-mail. “Similarly, the revocation triggering ineligibility has been increased to twice within the previous 5 years.”

Hedden on Nov. 30 said he still had issues with the ordinance, because “including denials in the language would penalize operators that haven’t done anything wrong.”

“I understand that the assembly could ask the operator to revise a permit to avoid a denial, but the code as written does not provide for this, and it’s not very comforting if your living depends on it,” he said. “If the goal is to avoid problematic operators, then I think working on the suspension and revocation process is a better approach. If expense is the problem, then raising the fees should work.”

The ordinance would establish a $125 fee for tour permit applications that require a public hearing, up from the current $25 for new tour activities in the borough.

Member Steve Vick said the fee increase is “probably long overdue, since we actually lose money before doing that,” but other parts of the ordinance are “a little too restrictive.”

“I still have the same concerns of just somehow, someone getting punished inadvertently…,” he said.

Member Daymond Hoffman suggested that the assembly look into using fees to “deter somebody from applying just to apply.”

“I think there’s merit to that,” said borough manager Mark Earnest. “This is something that we have spent so many hours … trying to figure out how to solve the problem, without creating a new one, and it seemed like for every problem that we kind of addressed, we seem to have created at least one new one.”