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

Aesthetics committee revived for uplands


Haines’ long-dormant waterfront aesthetics committee will take its first crack to brainstorm how the Haines Borough should upgrade the uplands portion of the Small Boat Harbor.

Whatever the aesthetics committee recommends will then go to the Haines planning commission – a body that has long felt it has been left out of harbor expansion design matters.

The aesthetics committee will hold a public workshop on uplands design issues at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 12 at the Sheldon Museum. The rocky and wet uplands is a potential site for a paved parking lot – a controversial concept.

This has raised some questions.

First, the aesthetics committee has apparently not met since Sept. 9, 2015. That is the date of the last set of minutes filed by that committee.

Also in August 2015, harbor design questions popped up in an aesthetics committee meeting. In response to those questions, Mayor Jan Hill ruled that harbor design matters were out of bounds for the aesthetics committee meeting.

“Our job is to deal with aesthetics. Not changing anything at the boat harbor,” Hill said at the August 2015 meeting.

That stance led to Debra Schnabel, representing the Haines Chamber of Commerce, to quit the aesthetics committee. At that time, Schnabel was frustrated with not being allowed to discuss design matters. “Intellectually, I just couldn’t separate design from aesthetics,” she said in August 2015.

Hill could not be reached by phone this week to discuss last year’s no-design stance in the context of the aesthetics committee discussing uplands design matters this Oct. 12.

The aesthetics committee’s recommendations will go to the planning commission, which will hold its own public sessions on uplands design ideas.

Planning commission members Brenda Josephson and Heather Lende pointed out that the borough’s code says that “the Haines Borough Planning Commission shall be the sole planning body of the borough, guided by the comprehensive plan.”

Both said the planning commission has been sidestepped on some harbor design matters. “I would argue that the planning commission has not been engaged in the process according to the charter and code. … In our community, the rules don’t appear to be consistently applied,” Josephson said.


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