Fort Seward residents Joanne Waterman and Phyllis Sage are seeking a variance that would likely make theirs the town’s tallest building.

Waterman will go to the Haines Borough Planning Commission April 17, asking to add 40 feet to the Port Chilkoot Volunteer Fire Department building hose tower, which currently stands at 27 feet.

The extension would make the structure slightly taller than the building’s original hose tower, estimated at 63 feet.

Waterman said she wants to restore the tower because of the historical significance of the structure. “I think it makes it much more stately and aesthetically pleasing, as far as I’m concerned. I think it would be a great attraction into the area,” she said.

The redwood-sided tower, included as part of the structure when it was built in 1904, was used to hang water hoses so they could dry. The original tower was truncated before the former Army fort was decommissioned in 1947, but why remains a mystery, said C.J. Jones, local historian and former curator of the Sheldon Museum.

Jones said she interviewed old-timers about the building’s shortening decades ago, and came up dry. “I have no idea, but I have tried. It was there in the pictures, and then it wasn’t.”

The tower’s attached fire truck bay was used by the Port Chilkoot Volunteer Fire Department until the City of Port Chilkoot and City of Haines merged in the early 1970s.

Waterman said she hasn’t talked to anyone who objects to the restoration. “A lot of people that I talked to are excited about it. It’s a statement.”

Waterman wouldn’t comment on whether the building would be rented, sold or used by the couple for some other purpose. Restoration started about a year ago.

Plans for the tower reconstruction have been approved by deputy fire marshal Robert Plumb and conform to the state’s fire safety regulations.

Waterman and Sage bought the fire hall in July 2012 from the Port Chilkoot Company. The building is next to the couple’s home and the Alaska Guardhouse, their bed and breakfast business.

Borough code requires buildings be limited to 30 feet high for all zones. According to code, “the intent of the height regulation is to promote fire safety, protect views and maintain ‘small town’ aesthetic values.”

If the variance is approved, Waterman said she will start ordering materials immediately and construction should begin this summer.

The planning commission meets at 6:30 p.m. in the assembly chambers.