Neighbors protest after approval of fish plant

Posted: Wednesday, February 05, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- The Juneau Assembly voted unanimously Monday to allow Alaska Glacier Seafoods to build a fish-processing plant in Auke Bay and neighbors are threatening legal action.

While the plant is expected to create seasonal and full-time jobs, beachfront residents were not pleased by the decision rejecting their appeal.

''This is the second kangaroo court I've been to in Juneau,'' said Judith Tickell, who owns five acres of land next to the proposed plant site. ''They already had their minds made up. They never took what we said into consideration. We won't stop though. We're going to take this all the way. We'll take it to court if we have to in order to stop it.''

The 80-by-100-foot plant is planned for tidelands owned by father and son applicants Mike and Jim Erickson. The land is west of the Auke Bay Ferry Terminal on the banks of Auke Nu Cove.

The seafood company has been in Juneau for seven years and has operated from the Allen Marine dock east of the ferry terminal since 2000.

Jim Erickson said he expects the completed project to provide 20 to 25 seasonal jobs as well as two to three new year-round jobs. He also said the project will continue to bolster the economy through the raw fish tax.

Thirty-four residents, led by Marcia Donnelley, were listed in the appeal filed Oct. 10, the same day the Planning Commission voted to approve the project.

At the hearing, attorney Robert Spitzfaden accused the commission of making a bad decision because the plant violates Juneau's Coastal Management Plan. He said construction will destroy a species of eel grass indigenous to the area and eaten by eagles and other birds. He also said it will degrade wetlands and wildlife.

Following the decision, Assemblyman Dale Anderson said the panel was impressed by city staff's findings and that the major state environmental agencies approved of the project. He said the assembly had some concerns about environmental degradation, but that impacts to the environment would be minimal.

Plant developer Erickson said he is committed to mitigating the effects of the plant by following the conditions put in place by the commission.

Glacier Seafoods also promised to dump fish waste in deep water to limit the plant's odor.

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