A Haines developer’s request for a resource extraction conditional use permit was granted by the planning commission Thursday. A few neighbors said they were concerned about the noise from rock blasting and the hazards of large trucks transporting heavy materials. Planners put several conditions on the permit to help mitigate those impacts.
Roger Schnabel of Southeast Road Builders owns a 65-acre property above Young Road and Skyline Drive. He already has permission to do clearing, grubbing and blasting at that site. But now, he says he wants to ‘intensify’ the work.
“I’ve pretty much done all that I can do with the existing excavators by doing some clearing and some grubbing,” Schnabel told the planning commission by phone. “But now I’m in the position that I want to get the site opened up a little bit more. And that’s going to require some drilling and blasting.”
Schnabel’s plan is to extract 7,500 cubic yards of material on the west side of the property over a three-year period. The reason Schnabel needs a conditional use permit is because he plans to use the material for commercial sale. He wants to truck it directly to the small boat harbor expansion, where it will be used for riprap protection around the parking lot.
Material that doesn’t go to the boat harbor would go to a development on Front Street or get stored at Schnabel’s staging site on Fourth Avenue.
The planned blasting and trucking worry some neighboring residents.
“Anybody who has dynamite going off in their neighborhood is going to be concerned,” said Lenise Fontenot.
She was worried not just about the noise, but also about the trucks routes.
“That concerns me because my neighborhood area, a lot of recreational people go up there in the summertime,” Fontenot said. “We have a lot of hikers, we have a lot of children on bikes, we have a lot of people walking their dogs, because the [Mount] Ripinsky trailhead is right up around that corner.”
“My number one approach with this is going to be safety,” said Schnabel. He emphasized that safety will be a top priority during the extraction and trucking.
The planning commissioners talked about what hours of operation would be least disruptive to residents, but still give Schnabel a fair opportunity to get his work done.
The commission expanded the hours recommended by Interim Borough Manager Brad Ryan, allowing blasting between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 10-4 on Saturday and hauling between 8-5 Monday-Saturday.
That’s when nearby resident James Sage spoke up.
“He could do [blasting] seven days a week,” Sage said. “My kids would love it.”
Instead of specifying trucking routes as recommended by Ryan, the commission decided Schnabel should work with the police chief and borough manager to determine the safest routes.
Ryan recommended Schnabel post a bond to guarantee he would repair damage to Young Road caused by the heavy trucks. Planning Commissioner Rob Miller said it seemed like an inappropriate restriction.
“I’m having difficulty with the notion of charging Roger for running highway-legal roads, which is his right to do, really, on a public roadway,” Miller said.
The commissioners also had difficulty with the suggestion that operations not occur during special event days as determined by the tourism office. They said it was too open-ended. The commission instead specified operation is not allowed during Beer Fest. They decided that was the event that had the most likelihood of conflicting with truck traffic.
“On Beer Fest day if you start at the dock and drive past the fairgrounds, it is a parade of drunken fools from the dock to there,” said Lee Heinmiller.
Finally, the commission nixed a requirement that Schnabel submit a drainage plan to deal with storm water runoff. Schnabel said he already has to follow a DEC regulation plan. The commission requested he provide that plan to the borough.
The conditional use permit was approved unanimously by the five commissioners who voted. Jeremy Stephens and Brenda Josephson recused themselves because of their involvement with the project.
The resource extraction permit expires in three years. After that, it could become a much quieter area. Schnabel says his ultimate goal is to develop the property as a residential subdivision.