The Haines Comprehensive Plan lays out a vision for the ideal community: one in which a flourishing economy and successful infrastructure attract a growing number of people and businesses to town. To achieve that vision, it lists many short and long-term objectives. The plan was drawn up in 2012, now it’s nearly 2017: time to review those goals and re-prioritize.
The comprehensive plan is meant to guide growth in Haines over the next 10 to 20 years. It projects Haines’ population will increase by a few hundred people by 2030 and lays out a slew of goals to prepare the community for that growth. Holly Smith is the Haines Borough planning technician.
“It’s supposed to be a living document, it’s not supposed to be something that is done and then sits on the shelf,” Smith said. “We’re supposed to follow it and then implement it in all city plans.”
The original intent was to review the comp plan every two years. But not review has happened since it was written. The borough assembly is now considering whether to extend that timeline to every six years.
“Whether or not it’s two years or six-year review, it’s time,” Smith said.
She already started gathering input from borough staff and committee members. The comp plan is 300 pages long, so to streamline the process, she’s asking for feedback on the ‘action summary’ part of the document.
The action summary breaks the town’s goals into categories, such as Quality of Life, Economic Development, and Transportation.
Under each of these categories are objectives. For example, Economic Development includes the objective of adding value to the commercial fishing industry. Then, there’s a list of specific steps to reach that goal.
Smith says one part of the review may be prioritizing the goals and narrowing them down. She says residents might want to remove objectives that have already been met or are not realistic.
“Another objective under ‘Transportation’ is to address possibility of railroad between Port Lutak area to Yukon Territory and Interior Alaska. A lot of commenters have said that that’s kind of a pipe dream and that that should be removed or put into not a high priority list because we might have other objectives we want to meet first.”
Smith hopes public input will help separate the needs from the wants. She plans to collect public comment between Dec. 8 and Dec. 22 through the borough website.
“And ask a very open-ended question like, is this still relevant to you? Are there things here that are more important than others? Are there items that you think should be added to this list? One of the things that are comprehensive plan doesn’t address is housing.”
The planning commission will begin its review of the comp plan and comments Smith has received so far at a meeting Thursday at 5:30 p.m.
A borough assembly strategic planning retreat set for this weekend might also factor into the comp plan review. Barbara Sheinberg is facilitating the four-hour discussion on Sunday. Sheinberg’s company drew up the 2012 comp plan. She says this retreat won’t center around the document – it’ll be a more broad discussion about the assembly’s priorities for Haines. Sheinberg says the assembly can use the results of the retreat in the comp plan review if they wish.
Smith says all of these things will indicate to her whether the review warrants an in-depth revision of the comp plan or something more simple, like updates to the action summary.
“For me, the number one goal is that the community feels like they had a voice in this process. That they were involved.”
Smith says another goal is to make sure the comprehensive plan is as comprehensive as possible by setting more current priorities for community.