Commercial trailers open around dock


Two unpermitted commercial trailers that started operating earlier this summer bring to three the number of wheeled shops operating on rented lots near the cruise ship dock. The third, a fish and chips stand, holds a temporary use permit.

Borough planner Tracy Cui said Monday she was not aware of the trailers that operate on cruise ships days as Lynn View Lodge Art Market and Tour De Scooter scooter rentals respectively. The art market trailer across the street from the dock opened a month ago; the scooter rental trailer, located next to the post office, opened in May. Cui said she would look into the matter.

Operators of the trailers this week said they were not aware permits were required for operating a business in a trailer in the townsite. Kelleen Adams said the art trailer serves mainly as an office for the lodge’s rental car business, but she also sells T-shirts and her handmade art. She said she also provides visitor information and a place for cruise passengers to sit.

“The Mayor came in and I showed her my work,” Adams said. “I’d like to develop it and have more to offer. Maybe a little live music. Wouldn’t that be fun?”

According to planning and enforcement officer Cui, trailers may be permitted under a section of code that allows for temporary use. The section says, in part: “In the townsite service area, permanent placement of trailers/mobile homes that are outside trailer/mobile home parks are prohibited… However, temporary placement of trailers/mobile homes/RV are allowed in the townsite service area, for a limited time up to 18 months. It is subject to a land use permit.”

“Temporary use” in such instances is defined as “a building or structure that is capable of being immediately moved, or a use which is for a limited time up to 18 months.”

Cui said that a fish and chips trailer operates under such a permit, which must be renewed every one or two years.

Trailers in the townsite have been controversial issue in Haines, Cui said. The Haines Borough recently put up for sale an office trailer that had served briefly as an office for its public facilities director.

The Haines Borough Planning Commission has been in the process of rewriting code that pertains to temporary use of residential trailers at places like lots where homes are being built, but that discussion hasn’t addressed commercial trailers on wheels, said commission chair Rob Goldberg.

Operating a commercial business from a trailer was prohibited in the townsite for decades, but a interpretation of code by the planning commission about five years ago allowed for trailers that became “structures” after being placed on permanent foundations, including cinder blocks. “They squeaked through on that,” Goldberg said.

Goldberg said that without looking at code, he doesn’t know how the fish and chips trailer was permitted. “That’s been there for a long time.”

He said he’d have to look at code to determine whether seasonal, commercial trailers met the intent of the temporary use ordinance, but he said a wheeled trailer was different than converting a trailer to a permanent structure.

“Having a commercial trailer is entirely different. We have to decide as a community whether that’s acceptable or not,” Goldberg said.

Commercial trailers are a concern for some neighboring businesses and borough officials.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” said Fred Shields, a former borough Mayor who has operated an art gallery and jewelry store a block away from the cruise ship dock since 1998. “It’s not good for the community and what we want the community to look like. For me personally, it’s not a good idea.”

Planning commission member Heather Lende said she is concerned about the aesthetics of long-term retail trailers as well as impacts on “brick-and-mortar” shops that offer the same wares.

“I’m not opposed to having trailers, but I think there’s a way to do it properly. Having a designated area for them would work better…It’s worth a discussion. I don’t think they should be scattered about all willy-nilly,” Lende said.

Lende also said there’s a legitimate question with trailer-based businesses setting up shop next to commercial buildings whose owners are paying property taxes. “If somebody can pull up a trailer and offer the same thing, is that fair?”

Art trailer operator Adams and Alex Stock at the scooter trailer said their businesses have been well-received and they’ve heard no concerns from the public or borough officials. “I’ve had nothing but 100 percent support, but I’d like to keep it that way,” Stock said.

Adams said she didn’t want to upset anyone. “If it turns out to be a negative thing, we’ll move it.”


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