City officials will start off 2018 by diving into one of the most talked-about topics of 2017: the city’s mining ordinance.
For the first time, the full City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Mining Committee will meet at 5:15 p.m. today. The meeting will take place in Conference Room 224 at City Hall, and will focus on conditional use permits and the role they play in mining. There will be no public comment, but the meeting is open for anyone to attend.
The committee has met a few times already, with just Assembly members Norton Gregory (the chair of the committee), Maria Gladziszewski and Beth Weldon as the members of the committee. At their most recent meeting, in November, they finalized their list of four more people they wanted on the committee. The Assembly approved of those choices soon afterward.
The other members of the committee include Ben Haight and Paul Voelckers of the Planning Commission, John Kato and Roman Motyka. Kyle Moselle was originally selected to the committee, but Kato eventually took Moselle’s spot. Kato is a retired Forest Service geologist, and Motyka is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and an instructor at the University of Alaska Southeast.
This committee is months in the making. In April 2017, a group of businessmen approached the Assembly members and asked them to reexamine the mining ordinance. The businessmen said they believed Juneau’s ordinance to be unnecessarily repetitive of state and national standards, and that these duplications made it more difficult for companies to pursue mining in the borough.
Mayor Ken Koelsch formed the committee soon afterward, with the goal of the committee to closely examine the ordinance and determine whether it needs to be changed, and if so, how it should be changed. The committee will eventually make recommendations to the Assembly as to how proceed with the mining ordinance, which has remained unchanged since 1989.
As the committee comes up with those recommendations, every committee member will have a voice. The original three committee members and Assembly members discussed at length whether to give the four new members a vote in which recommendations to make to the Assembly. By a 5-4 vote at a November Assembly meeting, the Assembly gave voting rights to the new members.
“Ultimately the final vote is going to come to this Assembly here to decide on it,” Gregory said at the November Assembly meeting, “so I see no reason to limit anybody else’s voting abilities.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.