The owner of a Haines trailer park wants to build higher-quality housing on his property. But the cabins he hopes to construct don’t fit with local zoning regulations. So, the planning commission is recommending a code change in an effort to help the landowner spruce up his property.
Leonard Dubber owns the Spruce Grove Trailer Park located at about 1 Mile of the Haines Highway. Ever since he and his wife bought the land 16 years ago, he’s thought, ‘I’ve got to do something about these trailers.’
“The trailers in this town, I live in the newest one and it’s [from] 1984,” Dubber said. “I have some in here that are 50 years old — they need to go away.”
Dubber has gradually gotten rid of the aging mobile homes over the years. He says they’re just not suited to Haines weather.
“The last trailer house I took down had two-inch walls. Now, it was the oldest one in here. But still, no trailer house is meant to go 50 years.”
But he doesn’t want to phase out the six trailers left on the property without a plan.
“You can’t take and get rid of your income without being able to replace your income.”
Dubber hopes to build around ten small cabins with porches to rent or sell. He says the cabins would look a lot like park model RVs, without the wheels.
“So my plan is to start putting in some one-bedroom, 12 by 32 to 36-foot-long cabins.”
The problem is that Dubber’s property is zoned light industrial. Borough code allows mobile home parks in that kind of zone, but not multiple single-family residences. Dubber brought his dilemma to the planning commission.
“What Mr. Dubber is suggesting is he wants to replace his mobile homes with better houses that are built on-site,” said Planning Chair Rob Goldberg at a meeting earlier this month. “And this would allow him to do that.”
Goldberg’s solution: to make multiple single family residences a conditional use in light industrial zones. That means Dubber’s plan would be allowed with a permit.
Commissioner Heather Lende expressed support for Dubber’s idea. But, she said, increasing residences in a light industrial zone could chip away at the industrial uses there.
“I think in this case it’s fine but I think it’s just something to think about,” Lende said. “When you take light industrial and you put it into residential, then the light industrial that borders that tends to ease into residential and you have a potential for conflict.”
Goldberg said the zoning changes implemented with borough consolidation lump a variety of properties into the same zones.
“And so I think we have to be pretty broad in what we allow in these zones,” Goldberg said. “Is it ideal to have residences in a light industrial zone? No. But in our situation we [already] have residences in our light industrial zone.”
Dubber’s property is one of the first lots travelers see when driving on the highway into Haines.
“I just think that being a place that’s seen as people come into town, to switch over to a better looking place would help the whole situation,” Dubber says.
He says he’s happy with the planning commission’s recommended code change. But before he can start building the cabins, it will go the assembly for approval. Then, he will have to apply for a conditional use permit.