A host of hurdles

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2002

I can't believe the city is thinking of destroying the Sheep Creek area with a heliport. People from all over Juneau use Sheep Creek for fishing, walks, picnics, bonfires and running their dogs. With good weather just starting I urge city leaders to come to Sheep Creek and see the numbers of people already using this site. The fact that the Sheep Creek site would actually increase noise for some residents makes this all the worse. It makes no sense to destroy a community resource for what amounts to little of a solution to the flightseeing noise problem.

And the Dupont alternative is no better. The Dupont trail and beach are often used in the summer for hikes, fishing, dog walking and running. Running tour buses up and down Thane Road every half hour to this location would create safety, noise and other problems for Thane.

There are also a host of other hurdles for the two Thane heliport proposals.

The Assembly instructed its consultants that any sites evaluated should be consistent with current city planning documents. Neither of the two Thane locations meets that criterion. Dupont is currently zoned low-density residential and rural reserve, where heliports are not a permitted use. Both the Dupont and Sheep Creek sites are on the shoreline where Juneau's Coastal Management Plan limits development to water-dependent or water-related activities. Siting major new transportation facilities there is inappropriate.

Although the shore near Sheep Creek is zoned "waterfront industrial," it is also designated in the Coastal Management Plan as a special waterfront district, where a heliport in the middle of this area would effectively preclude most other uses. Sheep Creek is also designated a "new growth area," where a master plan must precede development. The decision to site a heliport in the middle of this area would effectively preclude most other uses. Additionally, Juneau's comprehensive Plan lists as a goal for Thane: "Maintaining recreational access to Sheep Creek Basin and minimize impacts on the existing recreational use of the area."

And this is where the Assembly wants to put a new heliport?

Scott Linzmeier


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