The Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly denied a rezone Monday that would have allowed some mobile buildings to be placed within the City of Saxman.
The rezone was requested by the Saxman City Council. Saxman Administrator Leona Hafner explained that the city has worked about six months on the rezone plan.
One reason for the requested rezone was to allow the owners of Dockside Diner, which operates at Knudson Cove, to set up a mobile building take-out restaurant in Saxman.
Hafner said residents would enjoy it, but it would be of most use to the thousands of tourists that come there every summer, but have nowhere convenient to purchase food.
The rezone also would have allowed residential mobile homes through a conditional use permit process. Hafner said that would provide an avenue for affordable housing.
“For the people out in Saxman, to be able to afford a home is far and few between,” she said. “And most of you know what kind of cutbacks the state and federal agencies have, I don’t expect new housing developments to come out there and put up housing for these people anytime soon, either.”
There were some strong comments against the change from Joe and Bill Williams, both former elected officials in Saxman and boroughwide.
Joe Williams said mobile buildings are firetraps, and allowing them in Saxman will devalue surrounding properties. He said Saxman’s founders decided many years ago against allowing mobile buildings.
“We spent three years zoning that city,” he said. “I just absolutely resent the idea that this is coming in. And of course, a lot of the Council members that were there and the deciding factor of our zoning are no longer around.”
Bill Williams asked the Assembly to kill the rezone, which he said would damage the community’s image.
“The City of Saxman and Cape Fox Corp., which I’m a shareholder of, put a lot of money into building the tourism industry out there in Saxman,” he said. “And I would hope that you could protect us from having those types of … I don’t know how nice to be here, but I’ll just say what it is: It’s an eyesore.”
Two other people spoke against the rezone. Mike Lyshol owns the South Tongass Service gas station and convenience store. He said he had to follow strict, expensive zoning rules when building that business, and it wouldn’t be fair to allow cheaply constructed businesses to compete.
Ralph Beardsworth, who also is a Ketchikan School Board member, owns a home in Saxman and was worried about what allowing mobile homes would do to his home’s property value.
The Borough Assembly rejected two motions to postpone voting on the rezone request. Instead, the Assembly voted 1-6 to reject the rezone outright. Assembly Member John Harrington cast the only yes vote.
Even with that, though, Assembly members encouraged Saxman officials to continue working on the issue, and bring forward another rezone request at a later time.
Also Monday, the Assembly approved a five-year lease with Delta Airlines to allow that company space at the Ketchikan International Airport. Delta’s seasonal daily service between Ketchikan and Seattle is due to start May 15.
The next Borough Assembly meeting is April 6.