CITY AND BOROUGH OF JUNEAU
November 30, 2000
Vice-Chair Mike Bavard called the special meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission to order at 5:30 p.m., in Ball Room No. 1 of Centennial Hall.
I. ROLL CALL
Commissioners absent: Roger Allington
A quorum was present.
II. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS - None
A hearing of a Conditional Use permit for the Totem Creek Golf Course, Clubhouse and Maintenance Facility and Associated Hillside Endorsement.
Location: NORTH DOUGLAS HIGHWAY
Applicant: TOTEM CREEK, INC.
STAFF RECOMMENDATION: Absent to the Hillside Endorsement, which must accompany a Conditional Use permit, we cannot make a recommendation to the Planning Commission.
We do recommend that the Planning Commission review and approve the following conditions as a step towards final permit approval. Upon receipt of the Hillside Endorsement section and the Findings, the Planning Commission will take final action on the complete staff recommendation on the Totem Creek Golf Course.
At this time, we recommend that a permit approval be subject to the following conditions, which are necessary to mitigate potential adverse environmental impacts, to adhere to requirements of the Land Use Code, and to ensure consistency with the Juneau Coastal Management Program.
1.This is Conditional Use permit constitutes authorization for the applicant to seek grading and building permits for golf course construction. The grading permit or permits shall be subject to department review prior to issuance by CBJ Engineering Department.
2. This permit requires submittal of detailed drawings, surveys, reports and other information required for a grading permit, and as prescribed in the project plan documents and these conditions, prior to issuance of grading permit. It shall be the applicant's responsibility to submit this information so that it may be reviewed contemporaneously to ensure that these construction details properly implement the interrelated design, construction and the management guidelines of the approved plans.
3. The details of the design and layout of the 18 hole golf course shall substantially conform to the layout reviewed by the Planning Commission and amended with this permit, which is entitled Totem Creek Golf Course Site, dated August, 2000. The final design drawings of the golf course shall identify the layout of the golf course holes and other improvements, including, but not limited to, drainage structures, golf cart paths, and buffers.
4. Any changes in the project that result in significant changes in the development characteristics of the approved project, shall require an amendment to the Conditional Use permit. A significant change, for example, would be a substantial increase in wetland acreage impacted, the number of stream crossings, or in the intended use of the clubhouse facility. The scope of the review shall be limited to the request for amendment and any items reasonably related to the request, and shall be subject to approval by the Planning Commission. The Director may approve minor changes to the original permit. The Director shall notify the Planning Commission of all minor changes. If the Commission finds that the change is more than minor, the change shall be treated as a permit amendment
5. The applicant shall obtain all required federal, state, and local permits and authorizations and shall comply with the conditions of those permits and authorizations.
6. The project description and plans submitted to the Planning Commission for its October 24, 2000 public hearing, as modified by this permit, are incorporated herein as permit conditions and shall be required elements of the project.
7. The golf course shall be designed, constructed, maintained and operated in conformance with the Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States by the Center for Resource Management, which are endorsed by Audubon International, the American Society of Golf Course Architects, National Association of Counties and 20 other organizations.
8. As part of the grading permit review, the department shall determine that the final construction design and details reflect the Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States and reflects all of the provisions of the plans approved as part of this Conditional Use permit and the studies and details as required in those plans. In order to provide the expertise to make this determination, the applicant shall:
b-1) Prior to issuance of a grading permit, the applicant shall provide the department with construction drawings, the application materials and other required or relevant information which the applicant may wish to present, which demonstrates that the project has been designed and will be constructed in conformance with the Environmental Principles for Golf Courses in the United States. The CBJ may choose to contract with professionals experienced in sustainable golf course development to review the materials and make a recommendation to the department as to general conformance with the Environmental Principles for Golf Course Development. The applicant shall pay the CBJ costs of such a review which shall not exceed $10,000.
b-2) The applicant shall, after completion of the course and prior to operations, submit appropriate evidence to the department for its determination that the golf course was constructed according to the Principles listed above; and
b-3) Ongoing course operation and management shall incorporate the Environmental Principles referenced above and shall abide by the conditions of this permit. The applicant may receive certification by the Audubon Sanctuary program or submit yearly reports for a period of five years to the department for approval following professional review. The CBJ may choose to contract with professionals experienced in sustainable golf course operation and management to evaluate the reports. The applicant shall pay CBJ costs of such a review for compliance with the Environmental Principles for Golf Course Development.
9. This permit shall expire on December 31, 2003 if no grading permit has been issued and substantial construction progress has not been made in accordance with the plans for which the development permit was authorized.
10. Prior to issuance of grading permit, the applicant shall submit a construction schedule which defines appropriate phases of clearing and development. Clearing and grading should be staged to minimize the amount and extent of cleared area to minimize erosion and sedimentation.
11. Prior to the issuance of a grading permit, drainage plans and necessary support documents, prepared and stamped by a licensed civil engineer, shall be submitted for approval by the Engineering Department.
12. Prior to issuance of a grading permit, the applicant shall submit design details according to the approved Erosion and Sediment Control Plan. These submittals shall be prepared and stamped by a licensed civil engineer. The design details must show locations and details of the settling ponds, silt fencing location, construction scheduling, and a maintenance plan for the erosion control devices and other features as required by Engineering and by the stipulations of the ACMP review relevant to erosion and sediment control.
Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan
13. Prior to issuance of a grading permit, the developer shall submit a detailed Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan which meets the objectives of the October 12, 2000 Icy Straits Environmental Service Study Plan, subject to approval by the department. The plan shall substantially conform with the direction of the plan approved by the Commission and dated October 24, 2000.
14. The detailed Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan shall include the following provisions to ensure the planned habitat maintenance and protections measures are followed:
15. Field investigations as described in the Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan shall be completed prior to the final construction drawings with the intent of adjusting the active play areas to avoid sensitive habitats mapped in the field. This condition recognizes that some sensitive areas may be impacted.
16. Prior to the issuance of a grading permit for the course, the site plans shall be amended to show stream buffers on the anadromous tributaries to Peterson Creek of between 100 feet and 200 feet. One hundred feet shall be considered the minimum buffer width. This width shall be increased if the department determines that field investigations implementing the approved Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan indicate modifications are necessary to support wildlife routes, or if increased buffer width is found by the department as necessary to provide windfirm buffers, to provide additional erosion protection in specific locations or to reduce subsequent wildlife management problems.
17. Prior to the issuance of a grading permit, the applicant shall engage the services of a professional forester to examine wind patterns and orientation of clearings, and make adjustments as necessary to minimize, to the extent practicable, the effects of wind on stream buffers and wetland areas.
18. The practice range, as shown on the plans dated August 2000, shall be relocated so as to avoid impacting wetlands. The revised location shall be reviewed by the department as part of the grading permit.
19. Removal of vegetation in wetlands shall be minimized to the extent practicable. Holes 14 and 15 shall be adjusted to reduce the need to cut vegetation in wetland areas. No stumps shall be removed in wetland areas except where necessary to accommodate road and golf cart paths.
20. Prior to the issuance of a grading permit for course construction, the applicant shall amend the site plan to provide for circulation to the maintenance building and for the maintenance yard or storage area associated with the maintenance building.
21. To the extent practicable, irrigation lines should be located to avoid crossing streams and wetlands. To the extent feasible and prudent, at points where irrigation lines cross wetlands and streams, the lines shall be located above ground or under golf cart paths.
22. Utility corridors, shall, wherever feasible and prudent, be integrated with roads and other transportation corridors.
Parking and Lighting and Buildings
23. Prior to the issuance of any grading permit, the developer shall submit a final parking plan reflecting the parking design for the approved project. The parking plan shall be subject to review and approval by the department.
24. As part of the final parking plan, the following shall be provided: a maximum of 82 automobile parking spaces sized to meet CBJ Land Use Code requirements, 8 RV spaces and 10 bus spaces. Should the Commission approve a significantly larger number of parking spaces, the final design shall include interior parking lot landscaping.
25. Prior to issuance of building permits for any structures, a lighting plan shall be submitted to the department for review and approval. All lighting shall be located and shielded so as not to spill over the boundaries of the golf course property. Lighting within the course area, if desired, shall be limited to path lighting along the pathways to enhance winter use.
26. The application for a building permit for the maintenance building shall describe how the building meets guidelines which are no less stringent than Audubon's for maintenance building construction and management.
27. Should the applicant find the use of chemicals other than fertilizers necessary, the applicant shall notify the department. Storage of these chemicals shall be approved by the CBJ Fire Marshall.
28. Clearing and grubbing shall be limited to between the hours of 7:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m.
29. Prior to the commencement of construction of the course, the applicant shall submit to the department a traffic plan for the hauling of sand for approval by the department and DOT.
30. In the event that any prehistoric, historic, or archaeological evidence is discovered during course construction, the operator shall stop work promptly in the immediate area and notify the CBJ Community Development Department and the Alaska State Historic Preservation Officer.
31. For course construction, the applicant shall employ only a qualified contractor who is experienced in golf course construction.
32. The applicant shall retain a qualified golf course superintendent /project manager as soon as possible after financing is secured and prior to construction to oversee implementation of sustainable practices in the development of the course as reflected in the approved plans.
Prior to the burning of stumps or other clearing debris, the applicant shall obtain a burn permit from the CBJ Fire Department.
33. Large scale removal of ground vegetation and grading shall be done in phases to both protect soil and to avoid disturbing larger areas than necessary. Soils exposed after grubbing should be seeded within 14 days of initial exposure unless otherwise stipulated by the Engineering Department.
34. A qualified inspector, approved by the Engineering Department, shall be present at pre-grading conferences and during any grading operations that are in or adjacent to areas where natural vegetation is to be preserved, and periodically during construction, to ensure that sensitive resources designated for preservation are properly protected.
35. During construction, wetlands, stream buffers and other natural habitats designated for preservation that are adjacent to grading areas shall be temporarily fenced with stakes and plastic or otherwise protected to prevent grading or storage of heavy equipment or building materials in these habitats.
36. Entry into stream buffers and wetlands shall be prohibited except for necessary construction or management related activities, such as surveying or staking.
37. Immediately following the first year of site preparation, the applicant shall submit to the department a revised Integrated Pest Management program which addresses the Best Management Practices to be employed in the storage and application of fertilizers and which establishes a 200 foot no spray zone adjacent to any Peterson Creek tributary.
OPERATIONS & MAINTENANCE PHASE
38. Prior to operation, the applicant shall obtain a sign permit for all golf course signage.
39. The parking lot shall be surfaced similarly to the access road.
40. Should power lines be installed, they shall be located underground.
41. Stationary mechanical equipment shall be housed in enclosures designed to attenuate noise so as to avoid causing disturbance to adjacent property owners.
42. Prior to operation, the Water Quality and Conservation Management Plan shall be submitted to the department.
43. The applicant shall ensure that any proposed trails on the site have specified access points and shall include interpretive signs. The signposts on the trails shall educate users about the species to be observed on the trails and their value to a balanced ecology.
44. Human intrusion into the habitat protection areas shall be restricted/controlled through measures to be specified in the detailed Wildlife and Habitat Management Plan.
45. Following the first year of operations, the applicant shall submit to the department an updated Integrated Pest Management plan which reflects adjustments made to the plan as more knowledge is gained about the turf and the conditions specific to the Totem Creek course. The Integrated Pest Management shall be approved as part of the Audubon Sanctuary or Signature program or by the department following professional review, per condition 9 (b-3).
46. Prior to issuance of a grading permit, the applicant shall post a bond, cash deposit, or other City approved security to ensure the completion of all golf course, clubhouse and related improvements, including: grading, landscaping, habitat preservation, drainage facilities, and other critical golf course improvements. The amount of the bond shall be established by the Planning Commission.
47. Prior to the issuance of a grading permit, the applicant shall post a bond or other City approved security, in the amount of $100,000, to guarantee maintenance of erosion control devices and the replanting of vegetation as required.
1. The Planning Commission will recommend to the Assembly that consideration of the extension of the Douglas Highway be given careful consideration in the land negotiations. Specifically, the Assembly should consider retaining an easement to accommodate future alignment of the extension.
STAFF REPORT: Ms. Easterwood explained CDD staff and Totem Creek, Inc. (hereafter referred to TCI) have identified four topics where there continues to be disagreement. They are: Audubon, International certification, the buffers, wildlife studies and windfirm trees. Ms. Easterwood proposed that the meeting format begin with staff addressing the issues followed by the applicant. Next, the Planning Commission would have an opportunity to ask questions prior to public testimony. Ms. Easterwood predicted that there would be at least one more meeting on this issue with the Hillside Endorsement (the endorsement applicable to development on steep slopes) as well as Findings and final CBJ staff recommendations.
Ms. Easterwood began by introducing the Planning Commission to the current trends in the sport of golfing across the United States. Generally, the golf industry is challenged with accommodating the rapidly increasing popularity of the sport as well as the heightened awareness of environmental issues. Ms. Easterwood notes that the golf course industry and environmental organizations are effectively working together to find the most responsible approach to developing a golf course. To demonstrate this, Ms. Easterwood read from a booklet entitled, The Environmental Approach to Golf Development published by the American Society of Golf Course Architects to outline the challenges:
Turning to the issue at hand, Ms. Easterwood noted that it has been clear from the outset that TCI has proposed to construct and operate a course that would achieve this result. Even if it were not their intent, it would have become so because the Planning Commission and the Assembly also directed early on that the course be constructed so that Peterson Creek is protected and that it be constructed commensurate with the Audubon Society regulations. Ms. Easterwood added that while it later became clear that the Audubon Society was incorrectly named, the intent language remains clear: that the CBJ wanted to see that an environmentally sensitive golf course be built.
Ms. Easterwood addressed the CBJ process that has been involved thus far. Beginning with a 1996 Resolution, the Assembly authorized the Manager to negotiate for a development of a course in the subject area and then to dispose of the lands. The Resolution provides that the sale may take place only after economic feasibility and financing have been demonstrated. TCI is now seeking a Conditional Use permit, which is necessary for them to receive financing for the project. After TCI obtains the Conditional Use permit and its financing, then the land disposal process would proceed. Once the land disposal agreement has been finalized, then TCI begins preparing construction drawings and they apply for grading permits that would allow for the removal of timber.
The Planning Commission's role is to review the project in accordance to the Land Use Code and the applicable sections of the Resolution. Ms. Easterwood noted that the Commission would not consider Findings until the complete project is presented at a future meeting. The applicant is in the process of applying for a Hillside Endorsement, which may take from several weeks to several months. CDD is proceeding under the assumption that the project will not change as a result of the Hillside review. However, if there are significant modifications as a result of the Hillside Endorsement, then CDD will revisit its analysis and the Conditions. Ms. Easterwood next outlined the four areas of disagreement:
Audubon International certification or its equivalent: The proponent was asked by the Planning Commission in 1995 and by the Assembly in 1996 to design a course that was commensurate with the Audubon certification program. Ms. Easterwood noted that there are two projects that Audubon conducts: the Signature Program and the Sanctuary Program. First, the Signature Program provides comprehensive environmental planning through the design, construction and operational phases of a project. Herein, Audubon staff either designs or assists and then helps the applicant develop a management program focusing on wildlife conservation, habitat enhancement, water quality and integrated pest management. A golf course must join the Signature program prior to construction.
Ms. Easterwood discussed this issue with several jurisdictions and found that the reviews while generally positive, were also mixed. For example, Scottsdale, Arizona recently built its own municipal golf course under the auspices of the Signature Program at the Silver level. A municipality in Westchester County, NY recently authorized the construction of a new course and required the course join the Signature program as well. Westchester County noted that several design caveats were not included in the construction drawings and therefore cautions that vigilance is needed all the way through the process, whether or not the Signature Program is involved.
TCI has made it clear that they are not interested in joining the Signature Program, preferring to construct the course under an equivalent standard. They do plan on joining Audubon, International's other project, the Sanctuary Program. The Sanctuary Program is for operational golf courses and focuses on providing information as to the management of the golf course and guidance for community outreach.
Ms. Easterwood applauded TCI's interest in joining the Sanctuary Program, however, she notes that affiliation does nothing to assist the parties in the design and construction phases of the project.
The question is how to determine if the proposal is commensurate with the Audubon Signature program. Other jurisdictions have tackled this issue by allowing developers to design the course but retaining careful review of the result. A drawback to adopting that approach is that CDD has never seen a resource management plan before and they wouldn't know what to look for. The other difficulty is that because no two golf courses are alike, the Audubon programs do not have hard and fast standards in writing for CDD to obtain and review. Nevertheless, Ms. Easterwood has identified several "bottom line" requirements of the Audubon program, however. The following requirements have been incorporated into the Conditions:
Additionally, Ms. Easterwood utilized Environmental Principals for Golf Course Development, by the Center for Resource Management for as a yardstick to judge what could be considered a reasonable equivalent to the Signature Program. Audubon, International, the Wildlife Federation and a vast array of other interests endorse the principles. Both Audubon and Center for Resource Management's principles are equivalent in terms of intent. However, they differ dramatically on how they are carried out. Ms. Easterwood suggests a hybrid approach to enable the Planning Commission to conclude that the Totem Creek course is commensurate to an Audubon, International Signature Program course. Permit Conditions address the bottom line requirements as well as the principles suggested by the Center for Resource Management.
Ms. Easterwood stated that if all aspects were considered together: CDD's recommended conditions, conditions in effect by other agencies as well as these principles, the result would be an equivalent to the Audubon's promulgated standards.
Buffers and windfirmness and landmark trees: CDD Planner, Sylvia Kreel addressed the Planning Commission on these areas of disagreement between CDD and TCI.
Ms. Kreel reports that buffer widths are a significant point of contention between CDD and TCI. CBJ Code requires buffers on private property to be 50 feet and the Comprehensive Plan states that a policy for buffers on public land should be 200 feet. While much scientific research has focused on the optimum buffer width needed in order to truly protect the streams, research does not offer an exact number. Nevertheless, in most scientific research, 100 feet is pointed to as the minimum width necessary to protect the stream from the impacts of development. Additional buffer width is necessary to protect wildlife.
The applicant proposes 66-foot wide buffers on anadromous streams that actually connect to Peterson Creek. CDD recommends as a Condition that the buffer width be 100 feet and that it goes to 200 feet. This is being left open until additional studies that are not required until the issuance of a Grading permit are submitted (such as a Wildlife and Habitat study that will show where the actual routes are.) As well, CDD would like to further analyze wind patterns and where the buffers may be vulnerable to windthrow.
Ms. Kreel noted that whether buffers are 66-foot or 100-foot, the potential for windthrow is present but unpredictable. There are general trends that need to be considered. At the Totem Creek site, the wind generally moves northwest. Wind gets caught under the tree canopy and it sometimes causes a tree to topple. Counter measures can include "topping" selective trees or creation of a wedge with shrubs and smaller trees in front of where the timber is cut so the wind doesn't have a chance to get under the canopy.
Ms. Kreel asked K. Koski to come forward to address the Planning Commission on the issue of buffers.
K. Koski, an employee of National Marine Fisheries, stated that he is a biologist who has been involved in research on salmon habitat and buffer zones for the past 35 years. Mr. Koski reports that a 66-foot buffer is inadequate for the task. The 66-foot figure originated in the Forest Practices Act in 1990. It was simply a figure negotiated between private timber industry and government agencies so that the Act would pass in the State of Alaska. The best science at that time asked for 100-foot buffers, so 66-feet was in fact, a compromise. The average buffer in the Pacific Northwest is 100 feet to 150 feet on most streams in both urban areas and forestry sites. A national survey recently completed by the National Planning Association of 36 different programs also indicated that an average of 100-foot buffer was in place. As a result, Mr. Koski recommends that at least, 100-foot buffer be required for streams and in the event of wildlife concerns, a larger buffer be required.
Putting the buffer zone in perspective, Mr. Koski explained that a 66-foot zone only has about two or three trees while a 100-foot zone has four or five trees in the width of the zone.
Mr. Kendziorek asked if there were circumstances where less than a 100-foot buffer would be adequate. Mr. Koski said that perhaps, for example when the stream was in an incised canyon where the streamsides were bedrock-lined. Generally speaking a minimum of 100-foot would be required for a buffer.
Mr. Kendziorek asked if Mr. Koski considered the wedge to be included in the buffer width. Mr. Koski stated that the wedge should be treated as a buffer to the buffer and not a part of the actual buffer width.
Mr. Dybdahl asked how large the streams on the site were. Mr. Koski said that they ranged from three to four to eight feet in width.
Ms. Kreel next raised a recent development with the Planning Commission: that of "landmark trees." Around holes 4 and 5 several large and majestic trees have been identified. These unique trees, known as "landmark trees," are both large and ancient and are also susceptible to windthrow. Ms. Kreel said that this circumstance is not addressed in the Conditions, but suggested that the Planning Commission consider it.
Mr. Kendziorek asked if any of the Landmark Trees were located in any of the proposed 100-foot buffers or were they in areas slated for logging? Ms. Kreel understood that the trees were outside of the buffers but she believed there was enough flexibility so that fairways could be configured to avoid these trees.
Ms. Gladziszewski asked if the Alaska Coastal Management Program (hereinafter referred to the ACMP) Consistency determination were still valid given its age and changes in the proposal. Ms. Kreel called Jackie Timothy forward to address the specifics of the ACMP Consistency determination.
Jackie Timothy, an employee of the Office of Governmental Coordination for the State of Alaska, explained that the Consistency determination was good for the life of the project. However, if there were modifications in the project it would need to undergo further review by both the State of Alaska and the federal government.
Mr. Kendziorek asked if increasing the buffer from 66-foot to 100-foot would trigger further review or affect the status of TCIs Consistency determination? Ms. Timothy stated that what triggers further review entirely depended on the change. However, if reviewers note that a change is going to improve the project or better protect the environment, further review can be circumvented.
Wildlife Management Plan: Ms. Easterwood explained that in 1996, the CBJ noted that a Wildlife Management Plan would be needed when the project came before the Planning Commission for a Conditional Use permit. In 1997, when the state reviewed the project, they required a Plan completed prior to construction. The applicant has proceeded on that note. CDD wanted the field studies to be completed early on so the data related to wildlife considerations could be incorporated into the layout of the golf course. Ms. Easterwood understands that the golf course is a development and everyone accepts that land will be cleared, however, much known as to how impacts on the wildlife and habitat can be minimized.
CDD holds that while there are many features in Totem Creeks course design that can be viewed to be habitat-friendly and beneficial to wildlife, the lack of specific data creates a challenge in determining that the course design is commensurate to that of a Signature status course. Indeed, Audubon certification requires that field studies be done so that specific identification can be made. Once that information is mapped then specific courses of action are set forth. Other authoritative sources agree that the initial stage of golf course development must entail the identification and mapping of sensitive habitat areas. This must then be reflected in the course design.
Towards resolving this deficiency, Ms. Easterwood reports that Totem Creek has contracted with a firm to begin the wildlife studies and the fieldwork may even now be underway.
Addressing this conflict, a Condition states that the field studies must be completed and their results must be reflected into the final construction drawings (which is required prior to issuance of the final Grading permits). The intent is that the areas of active play will be adjusted, as much as possible, to accommodate the wildlife issues.
Mr. Kendziorek asked to what extent is the Commission expected to know information that is required, such as the Wildlife plan. Ms. Easterwood said they would be asked to make findings with respect to the Comprehensive Plan and the Coastal Management Program and if it is determined that the wildlife studies be complete to make those findings, then the Commission would be required to have that information. However, if the Commission finds that they have other information that gives enough assurance that the standards are met then the Commission can go forward.
At 6:45 p.m., Chairman Dybdahl called break to give the applicant an opportunity to consult and to give members of the public an opportunity to review aerial photos and maps of the Totem Creek Golf Course site. Also, at this time, Commissioner Vick took leave from the meeting.
At 6:55 the meeting reconvened and Tom Koester, TCI and Juneau Golf Club board member addressed the Planning Commission on the behalf of the applicant. Mr. Koester heralded the golf course as a major tourist attraction offering year-round recreational activities in addition to ancillary activities such as interpretive sites and a raptor center. Cruise ship passenger and independent tourists surveys indicate a high level of interest. The financial benefits to the CBJ are derived from the land sale revenues. The adjacent lands will increase in value plus increased sales tax revenues from golfers and food sales. As well, the golf course begins implementing the CBJ's long-range development plans for North Douglas.
Mr. Koester turned his attention to the areas of disagreement that was highlighted in Ms. Easterwood's report. In response, TCI states that at every step, they did what was asked of them and in many cases beyond. TCI's focus has always been creating a quality golfing experience, protecting the environment, protecting the habitat and addressing fish and wildlife concerns.
To illustrate this, Mr. Koester outlined highlights of the TCI's proposal for the Planning Commission to consider:
No concern was raised with concern to wildlife, habitat and windfirmness at that time.
Mr. Koester states that TCI is concerned by this recent development because the disputed conditions would send the project back to the drawing board. This would be devastating because TCI has nearly six years and over a half of a million dollars invested into the project and they do not want to throw out their existing environmentally sound golf course design.
Audubon International certification or its equivalent: Mr. Koester referred to Ordinance 18-11 for authority and he states that since 1997 the focus has been on the Sanctuary Program. In fact, TCI has a different view on the utility of the Signature Program at this stage because TCI has taken elements from the Signature Program and applied them to layout and in the design of the course already. The Program, which began in 1993, can only claim 23 courses that have achieved Signature status. Mr. Koester states that this breaks down to three per year and when compared to the 400 courses have opened last year, this is hardly an industry standard. Therefore, TCI objects to the standard being imposed upon their project claiming that it is not a realistic. Further, TCI finds it almost insulting to be required to pay for a new consultant (possibly one without Alaska experience) to review the considerable work already completed. The significant concern lies with a potential recommendation to return to the design stage. Considering the guidance TCI has received from the CBJ and CDD staff over the past four years, this would be unfair.
Mr. Kendziorek commended TCI on their efforts and went on to quote section 2(a) from the Resolution pertaining to the protection of Peterson Creek: "CBJ shall retain ownership, or control through conservation easements or other means, of the wetland areas along Peterson Creek and its tributaries .." Mr. Kendziorek understood the intent of that language was for the CBJ to maintain control of the tributaries. The Comprehensive Plan is clear on this issue, and regardless of what staff told TCI, the Comprehensive Plan was a published legal document and the controlling authority. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that TCI might be required to comply with the Comprehensive Plan statements that, on City owned land, a 200-foot buffer shall be maintained. In light of that, Mr. Kendziorek asked if modifying plans to adjust buffers would kill the project?
Mr. Koester was unable to state the answer without consulting with the golf course designer.
Randy Bayliss, the environmental contractor for TCI responded by pointing out that on the Totem Creek site, there are no places where tributary crossings are through riparian wetlands. He also reminded the Planning Commission that they have a specific west Douglas Conceptual Plan that deals with buffers. This plan was reviewed by biologists, who after reviewing the locations of the tributaries, recommended 50-foot buffers. Only on the mainstem or on the west side of Peterson Creek where there were adjacent wetlands was 200-feet recommended. On the east side of Peterson Creek, the CBJ-hired consultants who walked the site recommended 50-foot streamside buffer. Having said that, Mr. Bayliss stated that 100 feet buffers did not bother him too much, but 200 feet buffers would make a big difference in the plan. After reconfiguring the course to accommodate other sensitive areas, Mr. Bayliss feels as though TCI is running out of room.
Mr. Bruce returned to the issue of the Audubon Signature Program. He asked how TCI would address the CBJs concern that the course is constructed commensurate to the Audubon, Internationals Signature Program and who would pay for that?
Mr. Koesters position is that TCI has the design. This is in contrast to Audubons requirement of their involvement at the design stage. TCI thinks that after the Corps review process, the Coastal Management Review process, the Title 16 process and looking at the guidance that has been given to TCI by the CBJ, that their design is compatible with the Audubon approach. They now look to the engineering drawings and construction phase. That is to say, TCI is beyond the sighting, layout and design stages. Further, TCI is not convinced the interactions that lie ahead for the CBJ and TCI will necessarily require a paid consultant or specialized expertise to determine compliance to Audubon standards.
In the sense of the Comprehensive Plan where it states that on City owned land, 200-foot buffers shall be maintained, this is the situation where preservation interests and rational environmentally sensitive development must be balanced. Mr. Koester stands by TCIs reliance on statements made by the CBJ with regard to 66-foot buffers. TCI believes it is better to have the flexibility to work the design within the overall footprint of the course. It will be this type of environment where TCI can work around the landmark trees. TCI has a common interest in trying to accommodate the environmental concerns. The concern is that 100-foot buffers, which may expand to 200-feet, could reduce TCIs flexibility. If they are given a 66-foot wide buffer, TCI feels that it can accommodate a broader array of environmental interests and concerns. TCI have the same interests as the community and the Planning Commission in that they want to preserve the as much of the environmental value as they can and at the same time, creating a quality golfing experience.
Wildlife Plans and Windfirmness: Mr. Koester previously explained TCIs goal, which also apply to the wildlife. With respect to windfirmness, TCI's concern is that this issue raises uncertainties that could result in a redesign of the golf course. TCI states that there is no solid scientific basis to make hard and fast conclusions as to what might happen to trees in the event of a major windstorm. Further, in the proposed Condition, there are no identifiable standards to determine what adjustments TCI is expected to make. As managers, TCI has a vested interest in minimizing the occurrence of blow downs. TCI also proposes intent language of its own. They propose that in the event of blow downs, TCI wants to be assured that it can clear the cart paths and the fairways of debris after consultation with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
With regard to wedges and topping trees, Mr. Koester didn't think there would be problems working with the CBJ to accomplish a wind sturdy golf course. Again, what they wanted to avoid is a situation where the course must be redesigned.
Mr. Bavard asked the applicant if they had a chance to meet with the CDD staff to discuss TCIs proposed language to the Conditions.
Tom Findlay, a board member of Totem Creek, Inc. responded to Mr. Bavards query. Originally, there were 67 Conditions proposed for the golf course. After spending two days going through the project, the areas in dispute were reduced to the four presented tonight. Mr. Findlay emphasized that the disputed areas are significant to TCI for example, have they met the standards for designing the course and can they move forward? Or do they back up and design?
With regard to Condition No. 8, Mr. Findlay points out that staff suggests TCI be equivalent to the Signature Program, which is a design program. TCI suggests an alternative: "we have a design consistent to what has been said since 1996 or 1997, be equivalent to the Sanctuary Program."
Mr. Bruce asked if the Planning Commission found that a 100-foot buffer were required, would that kill the golf course project?
Mr. Findlay responded by stating that it was unknown. All of the criteria for which a buffer is required can be met within the 132 feet surrounding a stream. Admittedly, there are circumstances were the 66-foot buffer may be pushed out to 88-feet or to 130-feet. TCI wants the course to work. There is so much emphasis on an artificial number that it amounts to hypocrisy. Referring to maps that outline the proposed road, Mr. Findlay quotes Bob Armstrong from Icy Straight Environmental Services, the contractors who will be conducting the wildlife field studies. Icy Strait said that as soon as the site is "ringed in" with a road then there is no such thing as a wildlife corridor. TCI gives up a corridor of 132 feet then a road hacks through it with a 300-foot clear-cut that is paved down the middle. Absent evidence that TCIs 66-foot buffer negatively affects the fish and wildlife, Mr. Findlay requests that the Planning Commission let TCI make the decision.
Mr. Bruce states that of the four areas of disagreement, what areas does TCI need certainty on? Of those four items of disagreement, which ones are "deal-killers?"
Mr. Findlay didnt know whether or not going from 66-feet to 100-feet would kill the project. But in turn he asked if CDDs attitude were that a 100-foot buffer on each side of the stream would be imposed regardless what effect that it would have on hole 8 or on hole 4? Even if something less than 100 feet would be fine for the stream? Is that the right thing to do? Mr. Findlay states that it is not, because all along CDD staff had instructed 66-feet. A better golfing experience will result if TCI, working with Bob Armstrong and Bill Robinson retains flexibility.
Mr. Koester stated that TCI cannot live with a Conditional Use permit that says the project is still contingent upon a Fish and Wildlife plan that is subject to approval.
Mr. Dybdahl assured the applicant that the Planning Commission would not approve this project based upon any contingencies.
Before concluding their presentation, the applicant called Mr. Dave Lendrum forward to address the issue of what the operation of a golf course might do to water quality.
Dave Lendrum is the owner and operator of Landscape Alaska and is a 19 year resident of Juneau. During that time he has installed and maintained lots of grass. Mr. Lendrum was asked to address the notion that grass is a pesticide magnet, or something that needs tremendous chemical input. In Southeast Alaska, the climate is cool and moist and grass thrives here naturally. People find that they might need to fertilize their lawns anywhere between once per year to once over five years. In this climate, there are hardly any noxious weeds that attack the grass. Totem Creek asked Mr. Lendrum to design a lawn that has very little need for fertilizer. Mr. Lendrum states that that will happen naturally. If a lawn is given adequate drainage then the lawn will thrive. Mr. Lendrum reminds the commissioners that grass is looked at as a "scrubber" or a protector and collector of substances.
Mr. Kendziorek asked about the potential need for moss control at the golf course. Mr. Lendrum said that moss overtakes grass in areas that are poorly drained. In a situation where moss is established in turf, the agent used to kill moss is iron sulfate. Iron sulfate is not a pesticide nor is it regulated. Mr. Lendrum suggested K. Koski be called upon to discuss iron sulfate in greater detail.
Mr. Koski said that the iron compounds also exist in Duck Creek where there is a lot of dissolved iron. In a golf course situation it would take quite a bit of material accumulating before a situation like Duck Creek would develop. He did note that with the excavation of ponds, some groundwater might be intercepted, which has some existing iron mineralization present. That could exacerbate the problem.
Ms. Gladziszewski asked Mr. Koski to comment on the 66-foot buffer. Mr. Koski said that based on extensive scientific research, at minimum, a 100-foot windfirm buffer is necessary to protect fisheries habitat. The figure 66 is a number that was grabbed out of the air and its not based on any scientific data whatsoever. In addition, buffers provide filtration of any pesticides that may be in the area of a golf course.
Mr. Bruce asked Mr. Koski to address TCI's request for flexibility considering that there are areas where a 100-foot buffer would intrude into the playing area. Given the fact that most of the stream areas are already designed with buffers in excess of 100-feet, is it that important to impose a hard and fast requirement on TCI?
Mr. Koski said he thought that there could be some flexibility and it would have to look at it in greater detail and perhaps examine it on a site-specific basis. On the other hand, when a 100-foot buffer is designed, there has to be a little flexible and establish "this is the area that you can't go within." In some cases, in an area where the soils are unstable or an area where wind is funneled, then a wider buffer may be necessary for more stability. Considering that, Mr. Koski thought that there might be places where give and take could occur to accommodate the fairways. The general idea is a minimum of 100 feet for fishery habitat and in the case of wildlife situations; a much wider zone is required.
Peter van Tamelen, 14320 Otter Way, wanted to advise the Planning Commission of several documents that he prepared while consulting with the local Native tribes. First, there is a distinction between the Native corporations and the Native tribes. The corporations are out to make money, and if they are informed of an issue of potential development, they don't necessarily inform the tribes about what is going on. Tlingit and Haida Central Council commissioned the documents written by Mr. Tamelen: a Unified Watershed Assessment for the EPA as well as a grant for funds from Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines. The Unified Watershed Assessment identified watersheds were important to Natives. The Douglas Indian Association identified the Peterson Creek watershed as an important area because there are many subsistence hunting, fishing and gathering opportunities right in that area. There is also a Native historical site located in the area. Mr. Tamelen wanted the Planning Commission to be aware of these details and he urged staff to contact the Tlingit and Haida Central Council to discuss this with them.
Mr. Dybdahl asked staff if they had copies of the documents. Ms. Easterwood agreed to follow up with Tlingit and Haida and obtain them.
Terry Brock, 4012 Ridge Way, said he is neutral on the golf course even though he is a golfer. His comments deal with the windfirm buffer issue, flood planes and woody debris.
Wind flows across the bench of North Douglas from southwest towards the northeast. The coarseness and texture of the tree stands is an indication that the fine textured stands have been historically blown down. The winds that blow trees down are not necessarily catastrophic, they can be 30-knot winds, or the normal October winds blowing in pulses. When openings or roughness is added, eddies, vortices and other disturbance features are introduced. The trees are not able to withstand this new stress and they topple fairly rapidly. This is called "windthrow." Mr. Brock has worked in the forest industry in and around logging for 30 years. He notes that most of the salvage operations are due to windthrow.
The second point is the flood plain area situated around Fairway No. 7. Mr. Brock states that the area is a very, very active flood plain that composed of gravel, cobble, stone and boulder deposits. He predicts that cleaning up deposits from frequent floods will be a constant problem for the golf course.
The third point is the question of how the woody debris from past blow downs will be disposed of. Mr. Brock reports that there is a huge amount of wood just lying on the ground on the site.
Mark Rorick, appears representing the Juneau Group of the Sierra Club, of which he serves as its Chair. During the 28 years of his residency in Juneau, Mr. Rorick has witnessed the tripling of the population. Along with that growth has been the loss of forest, wetland and wildlife habitat. The Juneau Group is not opposed to the game of golf, nor is it opposed to recreation. They are concerned by this project in several ways:
First, the land proposed for development is valuable fish and wildlife habitat. They also believe the project is an extremely risky economic venture. It relies on tens of thousands of people wanted to play golf in the rain. They foresee the need for future CBJ financial support and that the associated housing development that was originally proposed will quickly are back on the Planning Commission's agenda. There are concerns about the environmental issues, specifically there is a need for wider buffers, and bans on the use of herbicides and pesticides. The Juneau Group views this as a sprawl issue where development is "leap-frogging'" ahead of utilities and more development in the rural areas will result. This compounds the problem of increased infrastructure costs, the loss of open space and over reliance on the automobile. The Juneau Group is also concerned that TCI is not signing on to the Signature guidelines. They commend the proponents of the golf course for their work and outstanding citizenship and with regrets to Juneau golfers, the Juneau Group requests that the Conditional Use permit be denied.
Steve Zimmerman, PO Box 20058, Juneau, is the President of the Juneau Audubon Society. Sue Schrader, who has served as the point person on the golf course development was unable to attend, so Mr. Zimmerman was filing in. To begin with, the Juneau Audubon Society is not opposed to the golf course, but there are many remaining questions concerning the use of pesticides, wildlife and water quality plans will be implemented. Until they are addressed, the Conditional Use permit should not be issued.
With regard to an integrated pest management program, Mr. Zimmerman understands that some courses in the Pacific Northwest do not use pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers. He was enthusiastic over Mr. Lendrum's comments indicating that the course be built on sand and occasionally sprinkle it with the ferrous sulfate-laden water of Duck Creek. Knowing that Totem Creek wants to keep their options open for the use of these substances, Mr. Zimmerman didn't find enough information offered that could recognize as an Integrated Pest Management plan. What substances might be used? What are the application levels and what process will be used to distribute the chemicals? It seems that without this information, its impossible for the public to comment on one of the most deleterious impacts of the golf course, if in fact chemicals are used.
He hopes that the people who are preparing the plan for the golf course utilize ground and surface water monitoring to determine what the transport and fate of those chemicals might be. They are also interested in how the noseeums will be dealt with after 6 p.m.
He wanted to recognize the fact that Totem Creek has responded to Audubon's previous request and has established a ground water monitoring site, which will allow the monitoring of potential changes in the groundwater. Mr. Zimmerman suggests that this be augmented with a fish component for the protection of Peterson Creek. Further, he suggests that overlay-type maps defining stream courses and the extent of use by fish be prepared. As well, if maps delineating wildlife habitats and migration areas were also prepared a considerable amount of understanding would be added to the project. Finally, Mr. Zimmerman requests that a plan for how windfirm vulnerability could be developed and made available for public comment.
With regard to buffer zones, Audubon isn't so concerned with the exact number of feet that the buffers should be, just that the problem be considered and an appropriate footage be arrived at. The primary goal is for wildlife habitat and riparian areas be maintained.
Finally, Mr. Zimmerman hopes that multiple use of the land be maintained.
Julie Penn, 6731 Marguerite St, Juneau, first addressed areas in the staff report where CDD staff and TCI are in agreement. The first one is agreeing to ignore where the future alignment of the North Douglas Road will be located. Ms. Penn believes that allowing the golf course to proceed seriously limits Juneau's options in extending the road. Many feel that it may even be a cost saving measure to build the golf course before the NEPA work is done on the road extension. Ms. Penn believes that it is bad planning to put the golf course in first and then plan around it. The second item of agreement is that housing development will be included in the project. Ms. Penn believes that this should be a stand-alone golf course and it should pay for itself. Her hope is that the Planning Commission will not take part in phasing of these projects at a later date.
Ms. Penn turned to the areas disagreement, and she urged that the Commission would not accept less than 100-foot buffers and that the recently identified Landmark Trees be protected. She wants TCI to complete the wildlife studies and she wants them to join the Audubon, International's Signature program now. In closing, Ms. Penn states that at this time, it is not known how the community wants the site in question to be developed. In fact, it isn't known if that land should be developed at all. The North Douglas Highway alignment is unknown as well as the financial feasibility of the golf course itself. In light of these circumstances added to the reluctance of the applicant to change the project design, Ms. Penn recommends that the permit be denied.
Jill Sandleben. 14010 North Douglas Hwy, is the closest neighbor downstream from the proposed golf course. Ms. Sandleben's primary concern lies with the groundwater and its protection. At this point she is not comfortable with assurances that the water will be kept safe. This is important to her because not only is it her drinking water but it is the habitat for a lot of wildlife. Out of her 10-year experience of living in the area, Ms. Sandleben reports on the propensity for flooding. After an inch or rainfall the 12-inch deep creek in front of her home rises as high as six feet within several hours. The run-off is intense. This may be relevant in terms of any chemical additives to the lawn and Ms. Sandleben doubts the terrain's ability to percolate this intense amount of run-off. Two things from the staff report concern her: first, the "no spray" zone within 200 feet of the creek. Considering the run-off, Ms. Sandleben believes the no spray zone to be inadequate. Secondly, that there be limited hours of duration for the application of pesticides. How will she know about these hours? In closing, she asked that the clear cut above Fred Meyer be avoided at all costs and that the hours of construction be shortened in the evening to cut down on the noise impact to her household.
Kathy Hoclur, 7995 North Douglas Hwy, spoke in support to the hiring of Icy Straits Environmental by TCI, but she is concerned that the results of their studies might not be incorporated into the design of the golf course. She urges TCI to be flexible on this issue and utilize the local knowledge of the nearby neighbors as well.
Anne Fuller, 7943 North Douglas, addressed the process that the golf course had taken. The Consistency Determination happened in 1997, but the 1999 City Land Plan says that the golf course is a 200-acre proposal. She's now concerned by what has been in the design and when things changed. With regard to the wildlife, Ms. Fuller believes that they will use the golf course lands exactly how they want to. If anything, she suspects that there will be a conflict between the deer hunters and the golfers, as the deer will be attracted to the greens. Finally, environmental sensitivity requires knowledge and she believes more knowledge is needed in order to proceed.
Ellen Ferguson, 7925 North Douglas, is a 13 year resident of North Douglas. She is very concerned by how the golf course will change the nature of her neighborhood. She read the staff report and found it very easy to digest even though she lacked a scientific background. This was because it lacked scientific information, she believes. With regard to an Integrated Pest Management Plan, it is important that full disclosure made of any pesticides that Totem Creek might employ. Nothing less than a complete plan with critical data be required and in place before any mistakes with the use of chemicals are made be required. Peterson Creek, a coho salmon stream, must be protected from chemicals and water quality must be further monitored before the permit can be issued. She supports the 200-foot buffers to protect fish and game habitat from blow-downs. In closing, Ms. Ferguson presented a photo of the Landmark Tree that was discovered on the site this month. She urged the Planning Commission not to approve the project until all the data was gathered and integrated into the design.
Richard Carstensen, 160 Behrends Avenue. Mr. Carstensen stated that his group re-visited the vicinity of holes four and five and they were unable to locate the Landmark Trees. The group will be taking another trip to the site to document the Landmark Trees. The Landmark Trees Project began in 1996 and it is an effort to find, describe and understand the most magnificent remaining forest of Southeast Alaska. Five years of tree hunting has revealed that while big trees remain, their numbers are a mere shadow of the ones that were lost. Juneau no longer has the eight to ten foot in diameter spruces that once stood 200 feet tall around the community. Recently, Mr. Carstensen's group assessed the Totem Creek site and identified a Landmark Tree stand. One tree is 200 feet tall, (only one other tree on the Juneau road system is taller) another is 77 inches in diameter. Indications are that the tree is well over 500 years old. Attempting to avoid wetlands, the Totem Creek plans systematically target the alluvial fans. The alluvial fans are exactly where the Landmark Trees are located. The small stands of trees that are not slated for logging will have very little chance of surviving blow-downs even if the 66-foot buffers were expanded five-fold. The Peterson Creek watershed contains the most extensive and highest quality lowland fish, deer and bear habitat on Douglas Island.
Catherine Pohl, 160 Behrends Avenue, is an employee of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game and her job is reviewing these types of projects for their effects on fish and wildlife habitat. The Totem Creek project underwent a full review about three years ago. The result was the Consistency determination, with its 49 stipulations. Most of the stipulations focused on the logging aspect of the project because that aspect of the application lacked detail. In the final determination, a wildlife management plan and stream habitat surveys were made legally binding requirements that the applicant must complete prior to construction. Ms. Pohl states that the reasonable assumption was that the results of the studies would contribute to the design of the golf course. She acknowledges that there was no discussion of how that information would be used by TCI. This is a bit of unfinished business that has fallen to the Planning Commission to resolve at this time.
In Ms. Pohls advisory role to the Planning Commission as an employee of the Department of Fish and Game, she commends CDD staff on their thorough work and states that their recommendations are sound biologically. With regard to buffer information, Ms. Pohl added that The Tongass Stream Protection Measures divides streams by functional groups on the theory that different kinds of streams need different kinds of buffers. The streams on the golf course site are alluvial process group and the prescription for those types of streams would be buffers of about 130 feet. However, given the presence of Landmark Trees, further modifications should be made to accommodate their survival.
With respect to the Wildlife Management Plan, Ms. Pohl refutes comments made by TCI and states that from the beginning agencies have voiced their concerns. The Department of Fish and Game requested information on wildlife in September of 1997 but never received it. Ms. Pohl suggests that the gathering of the wildlife information with the CBJs requirement for Totem Creek joining the Signature Program. Ms. Pohl contacted a representative of Audubon, International and was told that because the Signature Program is very site specific, there was no alternative.
In summary, Ms. Pohl states that the information provided to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is thin. Nevertheless, her agency has not taken a position in support nor are they opposing.
Ms. Gladziszewski asked Ms. Pohl to clarify what she meant by "dangling business." Ms. Pohl states that the stream crossing permits are better than they ever were. However, the permits wont be truly valid until there is a wildlife plan, an integrated pest management plan and the stream habitat surveys have been done, erosion control plans and water quality plans are complete. Within the Consistency determination, there was not a clear criterion for the completion of these plans nor is there a described process for reviewing the plans. Ms. Pohl states that this task seems to have fallen onto the Planning Commission.
Mr. Kendziorek asked for clarification on her agencys comment about a "vast array of unmet ACMP conditions. Ms. Pohl referred to the answer to Ms. Gladziszewski previous question. Mr. Kendziorek next asked for a clarification on what was meant by her comment "that agency representatives should have been contacted." Mr. Kendzioreks impression was that TCI had contacted her department not just a little but a whole lot. Ms. Pohl stated that those comments were made in the context of a wildlife management plan. She thought it was clear that TCI did not have a clear understanding of what was involved and she believed it was incumbent upon them to consult with area biologists to get that information.
Ms. Gladziszewski asked if Ms. Pohl had a chance to read TCIs response to her letter of October 16th. She had not.
Michael Sakarias, 7943 North Douglas Highway, wanted to highlight several comments taken from his written testimony. First of all, Mr. Sakarias was skeptical of the projected usage of the golf course in Juneau. Considering the short season, it didnt seem realistic that TCI could host 40,000 golf games in a single seven-month season. He also asked to be considered by the City when it disposes of its lands to Totem Creek. At $2,500 per acre, the property is going to be sold at an incredible discount considering what his neighboring property is valued at. Mr. Sakarias is concerned by the "unraveling of the forests" that is currently going on in the Peterson Creek watershed as a result of the selective cutting that Goldbelt is doing. He is concerned by further damage to the forest and to the wildlife habitat. The other concern Mr. Sakarias expressed was the increased traffic to the North Douglas Highway. To the people who live there, the highway is a residential street. In closing, if the Planning Commission turns down the golf course, they would not be turning down golf itself. He thought that more though should be given to what use the Peterson Creek watershed would be dedicated for and he resents being forced to do things because someone has a neat idea.
Maxine Richert, 4275 N Douglas Hwy, is a lifelong resident of Juneau, a 20-year resident of North Douglas and she is an Alaskan Native. Ms. Richert wanted to correct the impression that was left by an earlier speaker with regard to Native corporations and tribal entities. She believed that if Tlingit and Haida had wanted to testify for or against this project, they would have been at tonights public meeting. She is an avid golfer who frequents courses in other states. She has always been impressed by their beauty and by the wildlife that takes advantage of the area. She therefore disputes the concerns that the development of the golf course would hurt the streams or the fish and wildlife. She believes that if Whitehorse can support two golf courses, a nine-hole and an 18-hole, with a population of 18,000 people then Juneau certainly could with its population of 30,000 plus the thousands of tourists.
Ms. Richert supported TCI on their objections to conditions requiring that they join the Signature Program or that the buffers be expanded. Because they had relied on information given by the CBJ, she didnt think it was fair to require this now. In closing she believed that the golf course would be a wonderful asset to North Douglas.
Greg Wagner, Box 210673, Auke Bay, spoke in support of the golf course. He believes that they have done a good job preparing for the project and they have acted in good faith at every step. He wants to see the addition of golf for its year round recreational benefits to the community and it will positively impact the quality of life in Juneau. The project has been studied and information has been gathered and it is now time to mover forward.
Mark Schwan, 12090 Cross St, is an employee of the Department of Fish and Game who works with sport fish issues in the Juneau area. He wanted to reinforce to Commissioners the importance of Peterson Creek to the fisheries in Juneau. Coho, pink, chum salmon and Dolly Varden all utilized the tributaries. He supports comments made by K. Koski as well as the Citys position that the buffers be expanded to 100 feet. He believes that it is disingenuous for TCI to reject signing on with the Signature program because only three out of the 400 courses opened last year had membership. The presence of a salmon stream that produces in excess of 100,000 salmon per year requires the strictest standards possible for golf course design be adhered to.
Mr. Kendziorek asked if there were any other anadromous streams in the urban areas that were undeveloped beside Peterson Creek. Mr. Schwan cited Peterson Creek near Amalga Harbor and Kowee Creek are undeveloped. Generally speaking development brings a reduction in the fishery resource.
Beth Leibowitz, 9123 North Douglas, Juneau, admits that she has no interest in golf but wanted to address the fact that development will likely occur in the area. She doesnt like that fact, but she wants to be involved in the process nonetheless. Ms. Leibowitzs primary concern with regard to the golf course is the potentially inadequate buffer strips. She is also concerned about the potential for herbicides and pesticide use. While shes pleased that TCI seems willing to avoid their use, the CBJ should get a binding agreement from them. What TCI is offering now is too fuzzy. She wants every aspect of the pesticide issue documented prior to issuance of a Conditional Use permit. She also objects to granting permits prior to the completion of the Hillside Endorsement.
Nancy Ratner, 7909 North Douglas Hwy, Juneau, appears as a concerned citizen and wanted to address three areas of concern. Ms. Ratner strongly concurs with the staff recommended 100-foot buffers. She states after conversations with experts on the issue she learned that buffers start out at 100 feet and enlarge the buffer specifically based on the following conditions: in an area where wind disturbance is expected; streams have a very dynamic nature and buffer design should accommodate that feature; large tree stands requires special buffers for their protection. Finally, wildlife habitat and travel corridors also require a greater buffer width.
Ms. Ratner also urges the Planning Commission to ban the use of chemical compounds at the golf course. In the alternative, she offered a list of questions that should be asked in every situation where TCI wanted to use a chemical:
The application of herbicides pose a serious threat to rearing coho, dolly Varden and cutthroat in the tributaries because of the potential to kill algae and other plants that support the food chain. Ms. Ratner states that if the golf course were built correctly there would be no need for moss killers.
Finally, with regard to financial viability, Ms. Ratner supports the requirement of bonding. She hopes that great diligence be used to prevent a clear cut that now exists behind Fred Meyer. In closing, she urged the Planning Commission not to proceed unless it adopts the recommendations of its own staff and the best science available.
Mark Wipfli, has a Ph.D. in Environmental Toxicology and Aquatic Ecology and he is very interested the potential ecological implications of the use of pesticides. He states that pesticide-use are not necessarily bad, so long as they are carefully managed. He feels less strongly about the use of fertilizers. Herbicides do have the potential to affect algae in the streams but the real problem are toxic insecticides which are know to affect non-target animals, including fish. He suggests that whatever chemicals are used be spelled out in advance.
Mr. Kendziorek stated that the only chemical use discussed thus far was iron sulfate to be used for moss control. He asked Mr. Wipfli if he had any information to add in that regard. Iron-sulfate is an herbicide and it will not accumulate in tissue but he wasnt familiar with its toxicity. Mr. Wipfli reiterated that his was primarily concerned with pesticides and he urged the developer to refrain from its use entirely.
Gretchen Keiser, 14030 North Douglas Hwy, Juneau, is a down stream neighbor to the golf course. Ms. Keiser commends both staff and the applicant for all of the information that has been provided to date. Her comments deal with the process in which the course is being permitted. Specifically, with regard to the Grading permit addressed in Condition No. 8, subsection B-3, talks about ongoing operation and maintenance whereas the previous two parts discuss the review for the Grading permit. Ms. Keiser suggests that subsection B-3 be moved into the appropriate section. Moreover, she states that subsection B-3 be changed to include requiring an annual report. This would be a good opportunity for the public to be reassured that the golf course is operating within specifications. Further, it is unclear what information will be required or what happens if the report sheds light on problems for CDD. Ms. Keiser also believes that the alignment of North Douglas Highway take precedent over a golf course.
David Jobe, 160 Behrends Ave, attended this meeting to become educated and he would now like to share his comments. He supports Audubon Signature certification and extended buffers up to 150-feet.
David George, a board member of TCI, came forward to shed light on the history behind the Audubon certification controversy. First references to Audubon certification surfaced during the RFP process. Testimony from concerned neighbors such as Jill Sandleben and Marlin Olson focused on the issue of water quality after the golf course was constructed and operating. In order to address that issue, TCI and CBJ agreed to reference Audubon Sanctuary program rather than the Signature program, in the RFP.
The Signature program has come up recently by staff. How this works, Audubon sends representatives into your site and they will actually design your golf course for you. Mr. George explains that it is expensive partly because numerous airline tickets must be purchased as well as lodging and then extreme measures in the construction of the facility are required. For example, one requirement is that a lined tank is buried and capped with concrete in order to catch and recycle the grass clippings that stick to the wheels of the golf carts. . The cost for this feature costs $150,000 to 200,000 once it is completely installed. Furthermore, gas carts are frowned upon by the Signature program in favor of electric carts. Since there is no electricity, Mr. George projects that a larger generator may be needed in order that the carts can be charged.
If TCI is required to go with the Signature program Mr. George believes that it will be a deal killer as there is no way to offer affordable golf. He argues that the Sanctuary program is not an "ugly sister," but rather, it is an elite status itself. In fact, out of the 16,743 golf courses in the United States, 237 have Sanctuary status. Of that, 100 are in seven states: California, Texas, Florida, Michigan, New York and New Jersey. Nonetheless, TCI aspires to join the 98th percentile. Mr. George doesnt want the Planning Commission to be left with the feeling that if TCI isnt willing to go with the Signature program then they arent willing to do anything.
Diane Mayer, a consultant who was recently hired by the applicant to review their files. She reviewed TCI's submissions to determine if they are meeting the requirements of various governmental agencies. Ms. Mayer has 18 years of experience in resource management and regulatory review most recently as the director of the Division of Governmental Coordination where she oversaw the entire Coastal Management program. Tonight, Ms. Mayer wanted to correct the prevailing perception that work hasn't been completed. After reviewing the file and visiting the site, she said she is extremely impressed. With other no other project has she seen so much information at this level of detail at this stage in the project. For example, all aspects of the course have been surveyed to two-foot contours and the level of wetland mapping throughout the course was at the highest that she had ever seen.
Ms. Mayer states that DGC via the Consistency determination asked for a buffer of 66-foot so that fish and wildlife habitats are protected. The notion that no consideration to those issues was given is erroneous. Notably, some of the language of the Consistency determination's 49 stipulations was drawn from comments made by the CBJ as they participated in the state review. In fact, the same justification was reflected in the Title 16 permit issued by the Department of Fish and Game and the 401 certification issued by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Because the applicant's commitment to join the Sanctuary program which requires certification in five subject areas (wildlife management; water quality management; erosion control, etc.) because they have committed to do this, they have told everybody that the plans that they will submit for an operating course to the sanctuary theyve committed to do them even much earlier than the sanctuary program requires. So when people talk about well there's these plans that haven't been implemented yet, they are not talking about plans required for permit review they are talking about plans TCI has committed to share within the state review to share with the agencies, they've upped the bar on that as well, by committing to get them done early. The appearance that is being created is that they are holding back.
Mr. Bayliss had several things to add in closing. All of the arguments that have been articulated at tonight's meeting have been heard by TCI before. He reminds the Planning Commission that the golf course has all of its federal and state permits with regard to the environmental point of view. There are issues that people would want improved. Buffers, for example. If 100-feet buffers are the minimum that should be allowed according to the best science, then put that into law, Mr. Bayliss challenges. Its difficult for TCI to work with what they think is the law and then are told that people want more. TCI wants the same answer each time they ask the question.
The Landmark tree program was begun after TCI completed their initial design and layout. Nevertheless, TCI cooperated with the research on the site. Mr. Bayliss said that each time someone brought an idea to their attention, TCI has always tried to accommodate their request. Once the Landmark trees are located, once again, TCI will try to accommodate within what is reasonable.
Mr. Findlay asked for direction from the Planning Commission on what their next step should be. Mr. Findlay proposed for the Planning Commission to accept a 66-foot buffer, up to 100 feet, taking into consideration on a site specific basis where a greater than 66 feet was needed. For example, in windfirm areas, a buffer to the buffer might be needed. If TCI knew that the farthest the buffer would extend from the creek, then they could take the modification back to the designer to understand if it works.
Mr. Dybdahl explained that he was speaking only as an individual commissioner and he countered how about if the buffers were 100 to 66 feet on a site-specific basis.
Mr. Kendziorek said he wanted to know if a minimum of 100 feet was feasible. He wanted to know if 100 feet were workable. Mr. Findlay asked if the 100-foot buffer included the wedge in the width or if was not considered to be a part of the buffer. Mr. Kendziorek wanted to see what they came up with.
Mr. Bruce noted that TCI's maps indicate that a buffer in excess of 100 feet is the norm. It would be helpful if TCI mapped spots where the 100-foot buffer would work. He added that based on comments from tonight's meeting as well as from other meetings dealing with buffers and the Comprehensive Plan, 100-foot buffers are best. However, it also sounded as though some flexibility was scientifically feasible.
Mr. Bavard noted that when pressed, Mr. Koski said that there might be areas where give and take was possible. He suggested that a 100 feet buffer be required with a small amount of flexibility.
Mr. Dybdahl also asked for a breakdown where a 100-foot buffer was not feasible.
Ms. Gladziszewski recollected that Mr. Koski meant that buffers should be 100 feet unless the landscape dictated otherwise. She also asked the applicant to provide a list of pesticides that TCI may use if needed. Mr. Findlay thought a practical solution to providing a list of potential chemicals was to refer a list of approved chemicals provided by the Department of Environmental Conservation. Furthermore, TCI wouldn't decide to use a chemical without bringing it to CDD's attention on a case-by-case basis.
Mr. Dybdahl cautioned that comments coming from individual commissioners should not be construed as commitments made to TCI. He asked CDD Director, Cheryl Easterwood to reiterate what remains to be done before the project would be ready for its next hearing before the Planning Commission.
Ms. Easterwood said that before the Commission can act on this permit, the Hillside Endorsement review must be completed. The applicant feels the Hillside Endorsement should be submitted in two weeks. Additionally, staff has not completed its findings on the project pending the results of the Hillside review. The Commission must review the Findings.
Mr. Dybdahl stated that at the next meeting, all of the loose ends should be wrapped up so that the Planning Commission could take action on the permit at that time.
Ms. Gladziszewski indicated that more information on the Conditions dealing with bonding is needed. Ms. Easterwood agreed and would provide for more details.
Mr. Dybdahl thanked the public and the applicant for their hard work at tonight's elongated meeting.
VIII. PLANNING COMMISSION COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS - None
Motion by Mr. Kendziorek to adjourn, hearing no objection, Mr. Dybdahl adjourned the meeting at 10:30 p.m.