A new city port development committee, meeting for the first time Thursday, recommended against imposing a moratorium on new dock construction in downtown Juneau.
The Juneau Assembly is expected to consider the moratorium next month. If approved, it would stay in effect until the city finishes a comprehensive downtown waterfront plan, or until Dec. 31, 2004, whichever comes first.
The measure could affect a new cruise ship dock planned for the rock dump near downtown off Thane Road. The Jacobsen Trust of Juneau and Southeast Stevedoring of Ketchikan are seeking city and state permits for the project.
The Port Development Committee, which has members from the Assembly, the city Docks and Harbors Board and the Juneau Planning Commission, unanimously recommended that the Assembly vote "no" on the dock moratorium. The panel didn't accept public comment Thursday.
Assembly and committee member Jeannie Johnson said she was worried the Assembly was circumventing the Planning Commission's regular process. She also didn't want to stand in the way of private investment in real estate, she said.
"I do have big concerns about congestion, but we need to go through the Planning Commission before we say no to this," she said.
Assembly and committee member Frankie Pillifant said she was neither a proponent nor an opponent of the new dock and liked to look at a project on its merits. Other communities have used moratoriums to better plan for "big box" retail stores, she said.
"It's not an overly socialist action. It's a time-out, a time to get a handle on things," she said.
Don Habeger, Juneau port manager for Cruise Line Agencies of Alaska, which is part of Southeast Stevedoring, said the recommendation against a moratorium "was the right step for this committee." He previously said a new dock would give larger cruise ships space to dock in Juneau, instead of anchoring in Gastineau Channel and ferrying passengers to the dock.
Assembly member Randy Wanamaker proposed the new dock moratorium as a way to spark discussion about the dock project and waterfront planning in Juneau. In a memo to the committee, Wanamaker said the ordinance was not intended to be anti-cruise ship dock or anti-tourism, or to send a message that Juneau is closed to new business or wants "planning for the sake of planning."
Wanamaker said he favored the idea of a moratorium, but wanted to hear from people who had experience in waterfront-planning issues.
"Is this (the proposed dock) something that needs to be set aside while we plan for the future or can this exist while we plan for the future?" he said. "That is what I was looking for."
The members of the Port Development Committee are Assembly members Pillifant, Johnson, and Dale Anderson; Docks and Harbor Board members Dick Knapp, Bob Hurley and Budd Simpson; and Planning Commission Chairman Johan Dybdahl.
In other action, the committee appointed Anderson as its spokesman to the cruise ship industry and reviewed a request seeking consultants to prepare a waterfront plan.
Joanna Markell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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