BIHA Seeks to Double Size of Rock Quarry

By TOM HESSE
Sentinel Staff Writer
    The Baranof Island Housing Authority is looking to nearly double the size of a rock quarry located near the end of Indian River Road.
    BIHA’s request to expand the Indian River Uplands Rock Quarry was on the Planning Commission agenda Tuesday where commission members discussed a possible zoning amendment and permit that would allow the local housing organization to expand the quarry site from 18.8 acres to 36 acres, city planning documents show.
    The quarry is located at the end of Yaw Drive out Indian River Road. The original conditional use permit granted in 1995 allowed BIHA to use 18.8 acres of the site for natural resource extraction and mining support facilities.
    The first part of the request would change the zoning of BIHA’s adjacent lands from R-2 multifamily and mobile home housing to industrial. The zone change would affect 17.2 acres of land.
    In addition to the zone change, a permit request would be needed for rock extraction in the newly re-zoned areas.
    In its application to the planning department, BIHA lists safety, additional rock needs and future development as reasons needed to expand the quarry.
    In regard to safety, BIHA said in the application that the current rock walls left from excavation are too steep, leaving the area unsafe for future reclamation and development.
    “BIHA desires to perform additional rock extraction to eliminate the steep rock walls surrounding the quarry floor and construct wider benches resulting in an overall flatter slope that would provide multiple benefits: a safer finished product, a more attractive property opening up more options for future redevelopment of the site, while, in the process, creating a rock source to help meet BIHA and the community’s future project need,” the letter reads.
    BIHA said that 95,000 cubic yards of rock are still available for extraction in the existing quarry boundaries and that the expansion would add nearly three times that amount.
    City Planner Maegan Bosak said the proposal was up only for consideration and that there would be more chances for the public to comment on the proposals prior to any changes being officially made.
    “This will probably be on the agenda for another three or four meetings so we welcome anyone’s comment on it,” Bosak said.
    Along with attending the meetings, members of the public can also email written comments to the planning department at maegan@cityofsitka.com.
    In addition to consideration of the quarry, the Planning Commission also approved on second reading two plats for the city to purchase.
    The city is looking to buy two narrow strips of land on Oja Street and Etolin Street that are required for the city road construction project on Baranof Street.
    “Both of them are really small slivers,” Bosak said. “It was just two minor land acquisitions.”
    The city also approved a pair of variance requests for a property at 2406 Halibut Point Road.
    Bosak said the property is in an unusual situation because of its age, location and size. The structure is smaller than 800 square feet and was built very close to a property line before 1950.
    The variances would reduce the required setbacks from 10 feet to 2 feet, allowing the property owner to build additions onto the structure.

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