Skagway’s assembly seeks to discuss the future of its community-run medical clinic. Thursday night, they will vote on whether or not to allow the borough executive to negotiate a sale price with the Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium before submitting that deal to voters for final approval. They will also look at multiple ways to address seasonal housing shortages. KHNS’ Mike Swasey spoke with Vice Mayor Orion Hanson about the agendahe will lead the meeting with the mayor out of town.


SwaseyVice Mayor Orion Hanson, thank you very much for joining us. Looks like the agenda is unusually long for the assembly meeting on Thursday evening and the most important item on this agenda is the clinic. And it looks like there’s a order brought on which you will vote on whether or not the manager can negotiate a purchase price. Tell us about this order.

Hansen – If it passes, it would authorize the manager to negotiate with the SEARHC to propose a price for the clinic and the conditions of sale. And then there would be a question on the ballot and a separate resolution that would establish a special election to ask Skagway voters if they support the sale of the clinic to SEARHC for the fixed price that the director would negotiate.

SwaseyHow long will the negotiations last?

Hansen – You must have an appraisal done by a qualified appraiser. And this must be done within six months of executing any type of sale. So it’s a bit tricky to do that in coordination with a special ballot there. There are timing things that need to be straightened out. I think it is possible to do it probably this summer.

SwaseyOkay, well, let’s move on to some proposed residential housing ordinances that will be before the assembly on Thursday. One of them concerns the size of secondary buildings on a residential property. And the other is, how much of your property you can cover with buildings. Can you kind of explain to us what those ordinances look like?

Hansen – Yeah, they both came from civic affairs, then they also went into planning and zoning. the secondary suite ordinance would remove a maximum size. So you could build an accessory house whatever size you wanted, as long as it met all the setbacks, parking criteria, life safety standards, that sort of thing. And then also the width required for the height, less than 35 feet, which is as big as our fire trucks.

The other order would change the maximum lot coverage from 50% to 75%.

SwaseyHow much land do you own that you could fill with buildings?

Hansen – It is indeed the imprint of a building that is on concrete. And if you have a plastic garden shed, that’s not what we’re talking about. We are talking about permanent housing. The other thing it does is it would also change the minimum size for a mobile home from 3,000 square feet to 2,000 square feet, which means you could have two mobile homes on one lot.

Swasey OK. Meanwhile, there is a ordinance that would expand motorhome parking, you know, there’s already a code on the books that allows RV parking in residential yards for the next two years. But this next bill wants to go a little further to tell us what it wants to do.

Hansen – So currently the RV resolution would be active for the summer of 2022 and the summer season of 2023. I think that would extend it to 2026. Another thing it would allow is to put two RVs on a vacant lot 5,000 square feet for properties north of 15th Avenue.

And this recreational vehicle ordinance is something that we’ve had in place for a few years to try to normalize and recognize that we have a housing problem. And it went through the permissions manager. There are life safety checks, it has to go into a sanitary sewer system that is part of the house and it has to have potable water, it has to have a proper electrical connection.

Swasey Very well. There is also the approval of a groundwater survey for lots 11 and 12, it’s new business and it’s just kind of a budget proposal on it. Tell us where lots 11 and 12 are.

Hansen – It’s across from the public works building on Fifth and Alaska. We wanted to sell these lots, but there was some contamination. So this is a proposal from Cox Environmental, to try to get surveying and monitoring to make sure the water is clean now.

SwaseyAlso on the agenda, we are looking at a Proposal for the construction of the Harbor Master’s Office and public toilets and showers. There’s garbage planning, mobilization event proposal, the list goes on and on. And then you can finish with a nightcap of an executive session. Obviously, you can’t go into details. But which generals will you all be talking about in the executive session?

Hansen – Berthing agreements for ships.

SwaseyDoes it mainly have to do with post-March 2023? (Skagway takes control of much of its port in March 2023 after the 55-year lease with White Pass and Yukon Route expires).

Hansen – Absolutely. We need a process, a master key so that we can negotiate in the future with individual cruise lines or whatever the shipping line is.

Swasey Vice Mayor Orion Hanson thanks you for the meeting overview.

Hansen – You’re welcome.

Thursday’s borough assembly meeting can be streamed live starting at 7 p.m. on khns.org.