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Borough delays review of permit for RV park at school board request

 

July 16, 2020



The RV park located behind Thor’s Gym may soon be resurrected.

Between 2001 and 2011, the Elks Lodge operated an RV park at the location for visiting members. On June 5, Chris Thorgeson, the property’s current owner, applied for a conditional-use permit to operate a 10-space RV park at the site.

Consideration of the permit had been on the agenda for the July 9 Haines Borough Planning Commission meeting, with approval recommended by interim borough manager Alekka Fullerton and planning and zoning techs Libby Jacobson and Savannah Maidy.

The commission voted unanimously July 9 to table the permit discussion until its Aug. 13 meeting at the request of Haines Borough school board president Anne Marie Palmieri.

During public comment, Palmieri said the school board had been notified of the permit application the day before and had been unable to convene in such a short timeframe.

“As there have been issues in the past and contact between students and RV park renters, the school would like an opportunity to identify and discuss potential student safety concerns, with the possibility of recommending suitable mitigation measures if appropriate,” Palmieri said.

The school district was not notified of the permit application on June 22, as were other neighboring property owners, because it is technically part of the borough government, Fullerton said, but she agreed board members should have been notified and said she supported postponing the permit discussion.

This is not the first time Thorgeson has operated an RV park at the location.

A memo accompanying the permit application notes that Thorgeson began operating an RV park at the site in 2015. At the time, it was in violation of borough code. In 2017, then-borough manager Debra Schnabel informed Thorgeson he would need a conditional-use permit to continue operating the park in a zone designated for commercial use.

Schnabel’s letter was preceded by an anonymous complaint to the borough “regarding a potential threatening person who may have been living in an RV in close proximity to the school,” Jacobson wrote in the memo accompanying Thorgeson’s application. This was the same student-RV park renter interaction Palmieri referenced in her school board comments to the commission.

Thorgeson declined to be interviewed for this article.

 
 

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