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Mine resolution passes Assembly

City also adopts updated FEMA flood maps

Posted: July 15, 2013 - 9:06pm  |  Updated: July 16, 2013 - 12:07am

A resolution that would renew an agreement to unitize certain mining properties was the point of contention at a regular meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Assembly on Monday.

Assembly Member Randy Wanamaker quickly moved for the adoption of Resolution 2656, an updated agreement between the CBJ and AJT Mining Properties, Inc., dating to 1979 and 1980, but faced opposition from some other Assembly members.

“I feel that I cannot make an educated vote on this, there’s so much information here,” Assembly Member Karen Crane said. “I have no maps to refer back to. I cannot provide an informed vote on this. I would like to see this referred back to the Committee of the Whole.”

Staff had worked on the resolution that has changed very little since the mid-1970s, Mayor Merrill Sanford said. The goal with the resolution was to explore possibilities for mining the now defunct areas on Douglas and in Downtown Juneau, according to Sanford.

“I echo Ms. Crane’s comments. I have at least half a dozen questions written down,” Assembly Member Jesse Kiehl said. “I would also like to see maps.”

There was confusion over what the resolution granted both parties and who would benefit from the amendments, which included the appointment of a committee to explore mining options in the old AJT and Treadwell mines.

When Kiehl voiced concerns about the lack of public testimony, Wanamaker urged that approval of contracts such as the current resolution before them was routine and didn’t need further review.

“The purpose of the unitizing is to create a clear property owner structure for a prospective company,” said Rorie Watt, CBJ Engineering Director. “The agreements before you are as they have been for 34 years with two changes.”

City Attorney Amy Mead clarified some further questions regarding the reasons for making the minor updates to the agreements, adding that it would allow for interested parties to deal with one lessor rather than two or more when seeking out mining opportunities here.

“What it does is create an entity or a body that mining companies can negotiate with,” Mead said. “When there are multiple land owners, it’s difficult for a company to negotiate. The unitizing agreement itself doesn’t allow for the doing of anything that would have to come before this body such as entering a lease agreement.”

The motion to adopt the resolution was put to a vote and passed with Assembly Members Loren Jones, Crane and Keihl in opposition.

In other business, the Assembly adopted updated flood maps in order to remain eligible for the National Flood Insurance Program.

Updates to area flood maps will remove 272 buildings from current flood zones, allowing those homeowners to drop flood insurance while placing 226 new buildings in high-risk areas that were unlisted before.

The Assembly needed to adopt the FEMA flood maps, which include updated data, before Aug. 19 in order to stay within the program.

The first flood maps date back to 1977 and were last updated in 1981 for Downtown Juneau and 1990 for the Mendenhall Valley.

Public comment voiced concerns about the changes to the maps and the effects those changes would have on current properties. In order for the city to review specific cases and make recommendations to FEMA for additional updates to the flood maps, the maps needed to be adopted first.

Community Development Director Hal Hart assured that the city will review any appeals or concerns that are brought to the department regarding flood maps.

“One of the things we’re trying to do is understand what’s happened in the past,” Hart said.

For a roundup of weekly city meetings, go to juneauempire.com every Friday and navigate to “Staff Blogs.”

Contact reporter Kenneth Rosen at 523-2250 or at kenneth.rosen@juneauempire.com.

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