A Seattle-based transportation company is planning a new barge dock in Womens Bay, but it will have to dig through a pile of paperwork before it puts shovels to work.

Northland Services, which operates barge service between Seattle and other Alaska ports, has announced its intention to build a three-acre terminal on land currently owned by Lash Corp. in Women’s Bay. The terminal would include a landing craft ramp, bridge for roll-on, roll-off cargo, and mooring facilities for barges.

Construction would involve filling about 3 acres of land at Shannon Point, a literal wide spot in the road between Coast Guard Base Kodiak and Bell’s Flats. The site, currently occupied by a weigh station, had been intended for condominiums and was once considered for a ferry terminal.

After that project was shelved and the condo project failed to break ground, Northland stepped up as a buyer for the property.

The sale has not yet taken place, and before any construction can happen, Northland needs to gain construction approval from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Kodiak Island Borough planning and zoning department. That process will not end quickly.

“We’re sort of on hold now,” said Sandy Morris of PND Engineers, which is designing the dock for Northland.

The location of the dock needs to be zoned to industrial, but the borough’s planning and zoning commission failed to have a quorum last month, leading to a postponement.

In addition, the Coast Guard has weighed in, saying that an industrial-zoned property could conflict with operations at its base, located across Womens Bay.

“Since not all land uses permitted by the Kodiak Island Borough in an industrial district are compatible … U.S. Coast Guard Base Kodiak objects to the request to rezone,” read a letter to the planning and zoning commission.

Assuming the commission signs off on the rezoning, the dock plan must pass muster with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which regulates tidewater development, and the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, which monitors water quality.

In its permit request, Northland states it will structure its work to avoid noise and harm to wildlife. In addition to three acres of fill, the company would build a pier to reach deeper water, a move the company says would “decrease the potential environmental impact of the project to fish and other wildlife.”

Larry Stauffer, listed on permit applications as the Northland employee in charge of the project, did not return a call by press time.

Curt Bieberdorf, a spokesman for the Army Corps of Engineers, said the permit is now in an evaluation period. “It could take a few months to go through this evaluation,” he said. “It’s really too early to say anything more at this point.”

Bieberdorf said the Corps is considering holding a public meeting on the project.

According to a summary of the project by PND Engineers, the dock could be complete by January 2015, “pending permit and tideland lease approvals.”

Contact Mirror editor James Brooks at editor@kodiakdailymirror.com.

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