Discussion of a possible rezone of 72 acres of property near .6 Mile Chilkat Lake Road ended abruptly last week when the rezone petitioner stormed out of the planning commission meeting.

Scott Sundberg in May submitted a petition to rezone 15 lots on the west side of Chilkat Lake Road from general use, the most permissive zone, to commercial, which has considerably more restrictions. Sixty percent of the landowners in the petition area signed the document, and it was approved by planning and zoning technician Tracy Cui.

However, the “request for rezoning” petition circulated by Sundberg said it was for changing the zone from rural residential, one of the borough’s most restrictive zones, to commercial.

Commission chair Rob Goldberg called this a lie, since the area is currently zoned general use.

“They were given false information,” Goldberg said. “It’s incorrect. I think you got these signatures by convincing people they were in the rural residential use zone.”

Both Cui and manager David Sosa recommended against the proposed rezone.

Sundberg argued that if there was a mistake in the paperwork, it was borough staff’s fault since Cui approved the petition.

Commissioner Heather Lende agreed the petition with the incorrect information was invalid.

After more than an hour of discussion, including a suggestion by planning commission liaison Debra Schnabel that Sundberg draft and circulate a new petition identifying the correct zone, Sundberg rose to his feet, said he was withdrawing his petition, and stormed out of the building.

Sundberg also said he would be submitting a new petition within 30 days.

In a letter to the commission, Sundberg said he wanted to rezone the area as commercial because the designation “will identify the area to potential investors and business-minded individuals that is this is the intended use for future growth.”

Sundberg, who owns property in the area, has identified the spot for development of a $5.5 million “eco-lodge” recreation village that would offer guided fishing trips, mountain biking trails, Nordic skiing and other activities in addition to heli-skiing.

General use zoning allows property owners to development without permits, except in the case of landfills, commercial power plants, cemeteries, heliports and hazardous material storage facilities.

Commercial zoning is meant to “protect and enhance areas of existing commercial development and to provide areas for the continued growth of commercial enterprises.” All uses allowed in a commercial zone are also allowed in a general use zone.

Commercial zones prohibit mobile home parks, campgrounds, animal husbandry, animal shelters, firing ranges and cemeteries. Uses that are not explicitly disallowed but require a conditional use permit include bulk fuel storage, guest houses, junkyards, kennels, recycling facilities, resource extraction and RV parks.

Mayor Stephanie Scott disagreed with Goldberg’s insinuation that Sundberg had intentionally “hornswaggled” the petition signers. “To say the petition is inaccurate ducks the question,” Scott said.

Goldberg said he was especially confused by the petition because some of the people who signed it – including property owners Chris Brooks and Chip Strong – had submitted letters to the borough vehemently demanding to stay in the general use zone when the planning commission conducted a survey of property owners in the Chilkat Lake Road area last year.