Following complaints from residents and property owners, the Department of Transportation and Haines Borough will hold a joint town hall meeting Friday to deal with parking issues near 7 Mile Mud Bay Road.

The town hall meeting is tentatively set for 5 p.m. at the library. Check the borough website’s calendar for updates.

State right-of-way agent Joanne Schmidt contacted the borough this week to “sort out complaints and concerns related to the parking issues out there.”

Residents who live in the borough subdivision across the bay parallel park their vehicles alongside the road and cross the bay to reach their homes.

“I would like to talk with the Haines Borough Lands Department about how we may be able to work together to come up with a solution that alleviates potential trespass issues, creates adequate parking areas for the residents who live across the bay, and eliminates parking on the roadway that serves as an ongoing safety hazard and obstruction for our wintertime maintenance crew,” Schmidt said.

The borough sold the lots across the bay via outcry auction in 1985.

DOT spokesperson Jeremy Woodrow said the parking problem “has been decades in the making” and that “the number of cars has started to increase dramatically in the last several years.”

“Because people are parking in the DOT right-of-way, it has become a safety issue,” Woodrow said.

Edie Granger, who splits her time between a bay property and a Mosquito Lake home, said the issue likely came to a head due to a dispute between a property owner on the road side of the bay and those living on the opposite side.

The property owner was charging people to park in a spot along the road, which he claimed was his property but which others believed to be in the state right-of-way. Granger was one of the residents who paid to park in the space, before the property owner started putting equipment and other materials there.

Granger said she doesn’t feel the current parking situation is unsafe. “It’s been good. I think there is just a question now of where parking is allowed and what kind of parking and right-of-way stuff,” she said.

“It seems like everybody that parks there is able to pull off the pavement, and it seems like they are always able to plow,” Granger added.

Borough manager Bill Seward said he has been speaking with DOT and “brainstorming solutions” to find an alternative place for bay residents to park.

“It’s quite the pickle because if you drive out there and you see it, you’ve got the cliff side right there and then you have the waterfront. There’s not a whole lot of raised real estate that we could fill with gravel,” Seward said.

Seward said he is looking at the possibility of creating a gravel parking lot on leased land. “I’m looking at plats to figure out who is who out there and what might work. I might approach one or two owners out there to see if they are willing to enter into some sort of agreement with DOT,” he said.

DOT spokesperson Woodrow said the state has agreed to give the borough material that has accumulated near the 19 and 23 Mile slides.

Sandy Barclay, who lived across the bay for 28 years, said residents who bought the property from the borough in 1985 received only verbal assurances that they would have access to parking.

Barclay said the parking lot idea would likely generate a lot of opposition, and because of geography, might be located far from where across-the-bay residents currently park.

“You’re hauling all your stuff. You’re carrying everything literally on your back,” she said.

Woodrow said DOT isn’t interested in trespassing issues or personal conflicts between residents out there. “Trespassing issues and anything else, that’s really a borough issue and we don’t want to get in the middle of that,” he said.

Woodrow said the parking problem won’t see “an overnight fix.”

“In the near term, we have no plans of going out there and towing vehicles,” Woodrow said.

DOT right-of-way agent Schmidt will conduct a site visit at 7 Mile Mud Bay at 1:30 p.m. Friday before the town hall meeting.