More than a dozen Haines residents have spoken out against a developer’s plan to escalate blasting and trucking operations on his property. The planning commission granted Roger Schnabel a conditional use permit to do that work. But after hearing from several concerned citizens, the borough assembly decided to rehear the application.
Schnabel says his ultimate goal for the 65-acre property above Young Road and Skyline Drive is to get the lay of the land for a residential subdivision. He already has permission for blasting, grubbing and clearing on the site. The reason he applied for an additional conditional use permit is because he wants to use the material for commercial sale at the small boat harbor expansion.
“We’re going on about four years now where I’ve had a permit to do reconnaissance work there to do clearing and grubbing,” Schnabel told the planning commission in early February. “And I’m in a position right now where I want to intensify it.”
Two planning commissioners who are involved with Schnabel’s company, Southeast Road Builders, recused themselves from the decision. The remaining five voted unanimously to approve the three-year resource extraction permit. The commission also relaxed restrictions that borough staff recommended be included in the permit.
“I think it will affect my property values,” said Young Road resident Lenise Henderson-Fontenot. “It will affect my quality of life.”
Henderson-Fontenot filed an appeal of the planning commission’s decision.
“For the first time in 25 years, my husband and I are talking about putting our house on the market, because that’s not why we built a house there,” she told the assembly.
Henderson-Fontenot says the increased blasting and heavy truck traffic will lower property values and endanger public safety.
Skyline Drive residents Ella Bredthauer and Jeff Harrison also filed an appeal. Bredthauer spoke to the assembly by phone.
“The potential impact of this permit is life-altering in terms of safety and quality of life for many residents of the Haines Borough,” Bredthauer said.
Aside from the impacts of the development, Bredthauer called into question the borough’s process. Even though they live near the property at issue, Bredthauer and Harrison were not included on a list of residents who were notified by mail of the permit application.
“That’s probably one of the most alarming things that I’ve discovered,” said Henderson-Fontenot, who echoed Bredthauer’s concern. “There are a lot of people in our neighborhood that were either not notified or had no idea what was going on and that’s a big concern.”
According to code, borough staff have to notify residents within 200 feet of a proposed development. Interim Manager Brad Ryan said they tried to go above and beyond that by notifying people on the proposed truck route. He said Bredthauer’s property is on the truck route, so it was probably an oversight that she was not included on the mailing list.
About a dozen other residents in the Skyline/Young Road area backed up the two appeals either in person at the assembly meeting or by email.
The assembly unanimously voted to rehear the planning commission’s decision in the case of both appeals. The rehearings are scheduled for the next meeting on March 14. The assembly may confirm the commission’s decision, reverse it, or change the conditions in the permit.