For the past two years, Main Street in Talkeetna has seen a rise in the number of businesses housed in temporary structures. Most of these take the form of tents located at the end of the street near the river. Some local residents have expressed concern over the growing trend and want something done about it. As it turns out, these tents are not illegal according to the Talkeetna Special Land Use District, or SPUD, says Pamela Ness.
Ness is a Code Compliance officer for the Mat-Su Borough, who oversees enforcement of the Talkeetna SPUD. She says that the tents do not violate the law, so long as they are set up more than ten feet from the street. Ness says she does check business licenses for the tent-based shops, and says that she did find one tent that was too close to the borough right-of-way, and needed to be moved.
Further complicating the issue of the tents closest to the river is access to the waterfront. According to Ness, the high water this spring caused significant access issues throughout the early summer. The slough (sloo) that the borough-controlled path crosses saw an unusually high amount of water, meaning that many visitors and locals wishing to access the river had to do so by going onto private property containing tent businesses.
In addition to being forced to pass through the tents to access the river, the high water creates safety issues. As of last week, Ness said that five people had been injured attempting to cross water to get to the river. She has suggested that the borough use gravel as a temporary solution, and that a walking bridge should eventually be built to allow safer access.
While some in Talkeetna may not care for the tents at the end of Main Street, Ness says that until and unless the SPUD is amended, the Borough cannot interfere.