Chilkat Valley News - Serving Haines and Klukwan, Alaska since 1966

New trailers get jump on committee


As the Haines Borough struggles to address the lingering issue of how to permit commercial trailers, more are setting up shop around town.

Cheechako Tacos, a food truck run by Gregory Cooper, is planning to open by June 20 near 1 Mile Haines Highway. Another commercial trailer selling T-shirts has recently popped up across from the Port Chilkoot Dock.

A scooter rental business also operates out of a trailer stationed near the Haines Post Office, across the street from another trailer that sells fish and chips.

Planning and zoning technician Tracy Cui said she has been waiting for the borough to address the lack of guidance in code about commercial trailers since the Planning Commission in December asked Mayor Jan Hill to appoint a committee to tackle the issue.

The problem is trailers are essentially a mixture between a “commercial use” and a “temporary structure,” a combination code fails to address.

“We definitely want to do something,” Cui said. “We want to have some regulations for this business activity because it is becoming more and more popular and it is always a controversial topic.”

Cui recently issued a “temporary structure” permit for the T-shirt trailer, and plans to approve the taco truck permit soon.

“I don’t want to stop the business, because this is the (tourism) season. I don’t want to hold all the applications because we don’t have a solution yet,” she said.

Cui said she informed commercial trailer owners that the rules or permitting requirements may change soon, and that the two most recent permits – the T-shirt and taco trailers – are good only for one year.

“I won’t guarantee next year you will be able to do it or not,” Cui told them.

The scooter rental facility is operating without a permit, she said. (When asked why it was operating without a permit, Cui said, “I don’t know. Maybe we need to talk to the person.”)

Hill appointed an ad hoc commercial trailer committee nearly five months after the commission’s request, after prodding from commission chair Rob Goldberg.

At the May 10 assembly meeting, Hill said the committee will consist of planning commissioner Heather Lende, Haines Chamber of Commerce president Kyle Gray, assembly member Diana Lapham and resident Nelle Jurgeleit-Greene.

A meeting of the committee hasn’t yet been scheduled, and one commissioner this week said she hadn’t even been made aware of her appointment.

Committee member Lende said Hill hasn’t contacted her, and she was unaware the committee had officially been formed. Lende expressed frustration that the borough was continuing to issue permits for commercial trailers without having any real regulations for doing so.

“The whole purpose of planning and zoning is to minimize conflict so people know what is going to happen in a given zone or area, and everyone knows what the rules are and the rules are the same for everybody,” Lende said.

Instead of issuing permits because the code is silent on the issue, the borough should be withholding permits until regulations can be hashed out, Lende said. “Especially when we’ve talked about the need to do it, that’s not the way to do it.”

The borough doesn’t have to “reinvent the wheel,” Lende said, and could look to other municipalities or states for guidance. For example, commercial trailers might only be allowed to operate during certain hours, or certain distances from brick-and-mortar establishments.

“I think it definitely could be done in Haines,” Lende said.

Cooper, operator of Cheechako Tacos, moved to Haines last year. He plans to be open daily through the fall, serving authentic Mexican food on Spruce Grove Road, next to the laundromat.


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