CITY AND BOROUGH OF JUNEAU
September 12, 2000
Acting Chair Mike Bavard called the regular meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission to order at 7:00 p.m., in the Assembly Chambers of The Municipal Building.
I. ROLL CALL Commissioners present: Roger Allington, Mike Bavard, Dan Bruce, Mark Pusich, Merrill Sanford, Jody Vick
Commissioners absent: Johan Dybdahl, Maria Gladisziewski, Marshal Kendziorek
A quorum was present.
Staff present: Cheryl Easterwood, Director of Community Development; Katharine Heumann, CDD Planner; Joe Castillo, Project Manager, CBJ Engineering; Kim Kiefer, Director of Parks and Recreation; Bob Grochow, Parks and Recreation Landscape Superintendent
II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES
August 22, 2000 - Regular Meeting
Motion by Mr. Pusich to approve the minutes of the regular meeting as written. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.
III. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS - None
IV. POSSIBLE RECONSIDERATION OF THE FOLLOWING ITEM - None
V. CONSENT AGENDA
Mr. Bavard announced that there were three items on the Consent Agenda and inquired if there was any public comment. No one from the public wished to comment, and there were no questions from the commissioners.
MOTION - by Mr. Allington to approve the Consent Agenda that included CSP2000-00009, USE2000-00058 and USE2000-00052 (as listed below). There being no objection, it was so ordered.
A CITY PROJECT REVIEW OF NORTH DOUGLAS SEWER PHASE I, L.I.D. 86, WHICH INCLUDES TWO LIFT STATIONS AND GENERATOR BUILDINGS.
Location: NORTH DOULGAS HIGHWAY
Applicant: CBJ ENGINEERING - JOE CASTILLO
A Conditional Use permit to develop TWO LIFT STATIONS AND EMERGENCY GENERATOR BUILDINGS IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE NORTH DOUGLAS SEWER SYSTEM - PHASE I.
Location: NORTH DOUGLAS HIGHWAY
Applicant: CBJ ENGINEERING - JOE CASTILLO
Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission adopt the directors analysis and findings and grant the requested Conditional Use permit and approve the City project review. The permit and review would allow the development of the North Douglas Sewer System - Phase I. The approval is subject to the following condition:
1. The applicant shall comply with the stipulations and advisories contained in the State of Alaska Division of Governmental Coordination's Final Consistency Determination for the project.
AN ALLOWABLE USE PERMIT TO OPERATE A SEASONAL COMMERCIAL NURSERY AND GREENHOUSE.
Location: 2797 POSTAL WAY
Applicant: DAVID LENDRUM
Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission adopt the directors analysis
and findings and grant the requested Allowable Use permit. The permit would allow
the development of a seasonal nursery operation. The approval is subject to the
VI. CONSIDERATION OF ORDINANCES AND RESOLUTIONS - None
VII. UNFINISHED BUSINESS - None
VIII. REGULAR AGENDA
A CITY PROJECT REVIEW OF A 120-FOOT BY 120-FOOT PARKING LOT AT THE WEST JUNEAU RESERVOIR SITE FOR USERS OF THE TREADWELL DITCH TRAIL.
Location: WEST JUNEAU RESERVOIR
Applicant: CBJ PARKS AND RECREATION
Staff report: CDD Planner Katharine Heumann reviewed the staff report noting that this project was a joint effort by the CBJ Parks and Recreation Department and Trail Mix, Inc. The proposal is for a new parking area to access the Treadwell Ditch Trail at the end of Jackson Street, near the CBJ water tower above Blueberry Hills Subdivision. As the Blueberry Hills Subdivision was developed, trail users began to access
The parking lot will be 120-foot by 120-foot and will accommodate 15 trucks with trailers and facilitate movement in and out of the parking lot. Ms. Heumann stated that the proposal includes a gate across the trailhead, which would be an indicator of the trail's open or closed to motorized use status. The Forest Service has agreed to monitor the snow depths and operate the gate.
Ms. Heumann reviewed the parking lot proposal in the context of the Juneau Trails Plan. The Juneau Trails Plan was developed by trail managing agencies to provide guidance for the development of an integrated trails system. In the final analysis of that plan, the various proposals were prioritized in terms of highest to lowest priority. The Treadwell Ditch Trail received a rating of highest priority, uniquely identified in the plan as an excellent candidate for a multiple-use trail. In fact, this project had the highest support and lowest opposition of all improvement alternatives and it has been included in the Juneau Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan as a recommended action. The construction of the parking lot is an accessory to this planned use.
Ms. Heumann outlined the process out of which the parking lot proposal was developed. Public concern resulted in multiple meetings from November, 1999 through April, 2000. At these meetings, neighbors voiced their concerns and in response, Trail Mix, Inc. developed a list of conditions to the construction of the parking lot. The conditions are included in the proposal. The plan was also reviewed by the Juneau Coastal Management Program, which prompted modification as to the site location.
Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission adopt the director's analysis and findings and approve the parking lot for the Treadwell Ditch Trail as described in the project description and attached drawings with the following conditions:
Mr. Allington asked if an alternate access route to the parking lot that avoided Pioneer Avenue had been explored during the preliminary stages of planning. Ms. Heumann stated that Jackson Street was the only parking lot access under consideration.
Mr. Pusich asked if the parking lot would be paved. Ms. Heumann stated that it was not in the plan. Mr. Allington asked if that posed a problem for erosion and sediment run-off. Ms. Heumann stated that this site was selected over others because it was not at risk for erosion.
Mr. Allington asked for an explanation of the term "average sized vehicle" as it related to the parking space layout. Ms. Heumann described that they used a mathematical average for all vehicles in determining the average dimensions of a parking space.
Mr. Pusich asked if the parking lot entrances would be one-way or two-way and how would the ramp be utilized. Ms. Heumann stated that the entrances were two-way. She called Mr. Bob Grochow, Parks and Recreation Landscape Superintendent forward to describe how the ramp was to be utilized.
Mr. Grochow explained that the loading ramp was basically an elevated box that was equal in height to a pick-up truck bed. Trucks would back up against the ramp and off-load the snowmobile.
Mr. Pusich next asked if the Army Corps of Engineers permit that Trail Mix had obtained was for this specific 120 by 120 foot parking lot proposal. Mr. Grochow stated that it was. Mr. Pusich asked if the existing gate blocking access to the water tower would be moved. Mr. Grochow indicated that it would be moved. In closing, Mr. Pusich asked if the existing access to the Dan Moeller Trailhead would be changed as a result of this new parking lot access. Mr. Grochow indicated that no changes would be made.
Mr. Sanford asked if the lower parking lot would continue to be utilized by snowmobiles? Mr. Grochow stated that it would remain available.
Mr. Allington asked if Auto Cad had been utilized in the designing of the parking lot. Mr. Grochow stated that the drawings were completed by hand.
Mr. Bavard asked what happens when the parking lot is filled to capacity, would there be parking available down the road? Mr. Grochow stated that current thought would not allow parking down the road unless a street-widening project were undertaken. If in the future the parking lot is over capacity then some alternative could be explored.
Jim Sidney, a builder, snowmobiler and trail builder who had personally constructed several houses on Jackson Street. He spoke in favor of the proposal, stating that it was a good start. Mr. Sidney reported that trail users began looking for alternative access points to the Dan Moeller Trail during low snow years. Mr. Sidney worked with the original developer, Lance Youngquist, to get the users access to the Dan Moeller Trail by the water tower. This was a key access point that enabled them to reach the higher elevations. Prior to this, due to the Forest Services 12" snow rule, the snowmobilers were often unable to access the Dan Moller trail. He was also interested in what the snow monitoring criteria this project would entail.
Mr. Sidney also observed that during the past winter season, there were often times when 35 vehicles were parked on Jackson Street. He felt the proposed parking lot size was small for the number of users and he thought that the adequacy of the lot would quickly be exhausted. He stated the Ssnowmobiler Clubs long-term plans included developing alternative access points for the Dan Moeller Ditch and for the Lawson Ditch (using 5th Street in Douglas), and also for Crow Hill. He felt that once multiple access points are developed then the pressure on Jackson Street would be alleviated somewhat.
Mark Wilke, 9623 Gold Street, Juneau, the Vice President of Trail Mix and he sits on the State of Alaska Snow Track Advisory Board. He spoke in favor of the proposed parking lot. Mr. Wilke began his testimony by inviting the members of the Juneau Snowmobile Club to stand up. About 40 people from the audience responded. Next Mr. Wilke presented the Planning Commissioners with photographic exhibits that were taken during last years snowmobile season showing the parking congestion on Jackson Street. The congestion was the reason why the Juneau Snowmobile Club became involved. The group was concerned that they would be eventually denied access and they became leading proponents of the parking lot plan.
Mr. Wilke stated that the parking lot site was critical as Jackson Street was the only high elevation access point for snowmobilers in Juneau. He stated that there were only three locations in the Juneau that were open to snowmobiles. They are: Spaulding Meadows, Dan Moeller Trail and under Mt. Jumbo in Douglas. The advantage of Dan Moeller is its elevation provides snow cover when the other areas are closed. Snowmobiles are increasing in popularity at the same time that the Treadwell Ditch Trail is developed and this will result in increased pressure for parking by a large variety of users.
The size of the parking lot was a concern for Mr. Wilke. He explained that the originally planned parking lot size was 160 feet by 240 feet, which would allow for 45 snowmobiles with trailers. He believed that the larger parking lot more accurately represented the number of users. For example, this past winter on many weekends, Mr. Wilke observed over 30 snowmobiles with trailers parked on Jackson Street. The Snowmobile Club also believes the currently proposed lot size will restrict maneuverability.
Mr. Wilke urged the CBJ build a parking lot that meets the need. He stated that it was unacceptable to expect arriving users to go home when they find the parking lot filled to capacity. Other users such as boaters at Auke Bay are not treated in that fashion. He asked that after this proposed parking lot is built that staff be instructed to re-apply for permits to build a larger 160 foot by 200 foot parking to meet the needs of the Juneau Snowmobile Club.
Mr. Wilke stated that the Juneau Snowmobile Club is composed of solid citizens and volunteers who have been instrumental in securing grants, have provided the time, labor and materials for numerous and extensive trail improvement projects.
Robert Reges, an attorney representing the interests of his client, Mr. Lee Coffman appeared. He commended CBJ staff on the time and efforts involved in arriving at compromise that both the neighborhood and the users could live with. However, Mr. Reges suggested several changes to the conditions.
Mr. Allington asked Mr. Reges whether or not specific ordinances or statutes must support the regulations printed on a sign. Mr. Reges stated that if a sign indicates "no commercial use," what that tells the public is that commercial users need to obtain a commercial use permit. So in that manner, what would appear on the signage would also be supported by CBJ ordinance.
Peter Jurasz, a Blueberry Hills resident, commended the efforts of the Juneau Snowmobile Club for their commitment of time and labor spent on various trail improvement projects in his community. He recognized that as the community grows, compromises must be made by people with diverse interests in order to co-exist. Mr. Jurasz stated that as the owner of the lot adjacent to the trail access site, he was quite familiar with the snowmobiling staging activities taking place next to his home. However, he supported of the project and he felt that the parking lot would bring order to the situation and therefore improve his quality of life. Mr. Jurasz believed that the size of the parking lot would be adequate based upon his daily observations of the number of vehicles parked on Jackson Road. His personal concerns centered on the parking lot user's adherence to "no parking" rules and that adequate signage be in place. He was also concerned that underage drinkers would misuse the new parking.
In closing, Mr. Jurasz urged that the development of the next Treadwell Ditch access site focus on high elevation so that it would be equally appealing to snowmobilers as is the Jackson Road access point.
Heather Bingaman, a resident of Jackson Road supports the construction of the parking lot as it is proposed. Additionally, Ms. Bingaman suggests the following conditions be included in the permit:
In closing, Ms. Bingaman stated that while she supported the scaled-down parking lot project, she didn't think that the Blueberry Hills neighborhood was designed for this activity, nor was it intended to be "the access" to the Treadwell Ditch Trail. She stated that the September, 1998 "Douglas Highway Corridor Report" supports her opinion.
Brad Davis, 1314 2nd Street, Douglas, President of the Juneau Snowmobile Club, stated that he didnt understand where the compromise idea in terms of the lot size originated. The Dan Moeller Trail has had a long history of snowmobile use dating back to the 1960s, predating the existence of the Blueberry Hills neighborhood. The parking lot size as currently proposed is inadequate to meet the needs of the 60 members of the Juneau Snowmobile Club and he urged all parties to begin plans to build a larger sized lot.
Mr. Allington asked Mr. Davis how the snowmobilers accessed the Treadwell Ditch Trail in the 1960s. Mr. Davis stated that originally the trailhead was on Foster Avenue, but as the neighborhood grew up the hillside, the trailhead followed.
JoEllen Hanrahan, is the owner of an adjacent lot. Ms. Hanrahan stated the Blueberry Hills Neighborhood Association worked with the Snowmobile Club in good faith and she is disturbed at the new push for a larger lot. She believed that once the proposed parking lot was built that the issue would come to an end. Ms. Hanrahan reported that conflict between the neighborhood and the users was quite upsetting to her and she wanted closure. As a citizen, she urged the Planning Commission to locate an additional alternative access points to ease pressure on the affected neighborhood.
Ruben Willis, a resident of Blueberry Hills, stated that multiple groups with multiple goals working towards a compromise is always difficult. He supported the proposed parking lot recognizing that everyone had to compromise in order to achieve a consensus. Nevertheless, he hoped that tension would decrease.
Mr. Bruce asked Mr. Willis what his reaction would be if after two years of peaceful co-existence, the snowmobilers returned to the Planning Commission requesting that the parking lot be expanded to the 160 feet by 240 feet dimensions. Mr. Willis initially stated that he would not be in favor of the increase due to the volume of traffic that would be attracted to the area. He then thought that if there were no problems at all, he would be open to revisiting the issue.
Dan Phillips, board member of the Juneau Snowmobile Club, suggested that a larger parking lot would actually decrease the traffic flow. In the morning, cars would go up the hill, readily find a parking spot and then go down again in the evening. However, if the lot were inadequate to meet the need, the neighborhood would see cars going up the hill, and after finding no lawful area to park, return back down. He predicted this would happen repeatedly as cars drove back and forth checking for an available parking spot.
Troy Whitehead asked for clarification from staff on which side of the street vehicles with trailers could park. Ms. Heumann stated that vehicles without trailers could park on the uphill side of the road and that parking on the downhill side of the road would be prohibited.
Lisa Davis, is married to a snowmobiler and she supports him. Ms. Davis informed the Commissioners that there were several incidents by several ill-mannered younger snowmobilers last year but that older members of the club had dealt with those individuals. Overall, snowmobilers were considerate neighbors who are willing and able to police themselves. She supported the project moving ahead so that it would be in place by this winter. Ms. Davis also supported a larger parking lot stating that an inadequate sized lot would only create frustration for all parties.
There was no one else who wished to testify, and public testimony was closed.
Mr. Allington commented on the problem of not planning ahead to mitigate traffic congestion. He suggested that CDD staff be directed to evaluate alternative trail access sites that did not traverse residential neighborhoods. Mr. Allington also questioned the legality of the CBJ stipulating specific parking rules for various types of vehicles. He was aware that this practice is done but he didnt think it would hold up in court if challenged. He suggested that the City Attorney be consulted.
Mr. Bruce asked staff whether or not the Juneau Snowmobile Club was party to a compromise during the public meetings leading up to the final parking lot proposal. In response, Mr. Bavard referred Planning Commissioners to Attachment F- November 29, 1999 PRAC Minutes that outlined the group's position. Mr. Bruce withdrew his question.
Mr. Pusich asked Mr. Grochow if Parks and Recreation customarily placed portable toilet facilities at outdoor recreation sites. Mr. Grochow didn't know of any locations with a toilet provided, however, if there were a pressing need, one could be provided. Mr. Pusich also suggested that a parking diagram be posted to facilitate the efficient use of available parking in the lot.
Mr. Bavard asked staff why Condition No. 5 was substituted for the original language the August 25, 2000 Memorandum from Parks and Recreation that specifically called for a review in two years. Ms. Heumann said the CDD's intent was to monitor the situation closely and keep the dialogue going rather than leave it alone for two years. Ms Easterwood, added that CDD believed waiting two years to review the situation was too long to wait. However, Ms. Easterwood indicated that the substitution could be made especially in light of the desires expressed by tonight's testimony. She added that CDD would monitor the parking situation on Jackson Street and she intended to keep the lines of communication with the users and the neighborhood open.
Mr. Bavard asked staff if an additional sign indicating "No Commercial Use" could be added into Condition No. 1. Ms. Heumann agreed.
Next, Mr. Bavard asked for discussion on Mr. Allington's suggestion that the alternative access issues be evaluated.
Mr. Bruce opposed including that issue into this project. He stated that there is ongoing review already in place before other bodies.
Mr. Allington spoke in support, stating that he did not want this important step to fall through the cracks.
Mr. Pusich asked staff to verify that the CBJ Comprehensive Plan and that the CBJ Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan do not already include caveats that require investigation for alternative access sites already.
Ms. Easterwood was not aware of language in the Comprehensive Plan.
Kim Kiefer, Director of Parks and Recreation reviewed Chapter 8 of the Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan for the Commissioners and determined that it supported the addition of Mr. Allington's proposed condition.
Mr. Bavard and Mr. Vick both spoke in support of the addition of a parking diagram proposed by Mr. Pusich.
Mr. Bavard asked for comments related to Condition No. 1 and on Mr. Allington's comments pertaining to parking on city streets.
Mr. Bruce stated that the intent of this project was to regulate the parking on Jackson Street and within the parking lot; therefore, signs stipulating the regulations should remain in Condition No. 1.
Responding to Mr. Sanford, Ms. Kiefer stated that the City Attorney had indicated that the signage was allowable. A similar situation within the CBJ was near DeHart's on the hill, which designates parking on the right side for vehicles with trailers only.
Motion - by Mr. Bruce that the Planning Commission accept staffs recommendations analysis and findings and approve CSP2000-00003, with the addition to Condition No. 1, that a sign stating: "No Commercial Use Allowed" is added and that there be a parking diagram posted. Additionally, that Condition No. 5 be replaced with Condition No. 9 from the August 25, 2000 Memorandum from Parks and Recreation.
Mr. Allington suggested that the placement of a ramp be included as a condition. Ms. Heumann agreed that it could be added as a condition since it was not specifically drawn on the map. Mr. Bruce considered that to be a friendly amendment.
Mr. Allington asked if a sanitation facility should be included in the condition.
Ms. Kiefer raised the point that the CBJ does not provide bathroom facilities at any other all day outdoor recreational sites nor was it their intention to provide one at the Jackson Street parking lot.
Mr. Allington indicated that he wanted a condition included directing staff to evaluate alternative access. The proposed motion would state: "CDD and CBJ Engineering will evaluate alternate access to this proposed parking lot without going through subdivisions. When such access is identified, the proposed lot maybe expanded to accommodate anticipated uses and access to the lot on Jackson Street would then be closed."
Mr. Allington spoke in support of his amendment stating that it was a disservice to the homeowners not to find alternative access.
After a brief discussion, Mr. Allington modified his amendment.
Motion - by Mr. Allington that the Planning Commission direct CDD and CBJ Engineering will evaluate alternative access to this proposed parking lot without going through a subdivision.
Mr. Bavard called for a vote on Mr. Allington's amendment.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Allington, Bavard, Bruce, Pusich, Sanford.
Nays: Bruce, Vick
Absent: Dybdahl, Gladziszewski, Kendziorek
The motion for the amendment fails.
Next, Mr. Bavard called for a vote on the motion made by Mr. Bruce.
Roll Call Vote:
Ayes: Allington, Bavard, Bruce, Pusich, Sanford, Vick
Absent: Dybdahl, Gladziszewski, Kendziorek
CSP2000-00003 as amended was approved.
A brief recess occurred following the roll call vote and Mr. Bavard reconvened the meeting at 8:33.
IX. BOARD OF ADJUSTMENT - None
X. OTHER BUSINESS - None
XI. DIRECTOR'S REPORT
Ms. Easterwood informed the Commissioners that the next Regular Meeting had many items on the agenda including a fairly controversial issue involving a proposed resort located at Tee Harbor. Other upcoming issues on the calendar were golf course for the October 24th meeting and following would be the Montana Creek rock quarry tentatively ready for the first meeting in November.
Ms. Easterwood reminded Commissioners of the upcoming training on Tuesday, September 19th, however, due to the Southeast Conference, Ms. Easterwood would not be able to attend. Several items on the agenda were the open meetings act, variances, findings, ethics and ex parte contacts.
XII. REPORT OF REGULAR AND SPECIAL COMMITTEES
Mr. Bruce reported that the Public Works Committee heard neighborhood complaints about speeding cars through the Mendenhall River School area. He described the unintended consequences of installing speed bumps: speeding traffic is merely diverts itself to other streets. Mr. Bruce said they heard complaints of blaring music from cars.
Mr. Sanford asked if the Lands Committee would be meeting Wednesday, September 13th. Ms. Easterwood indicated that they would meet and that open burning is on their agenda.
Mr. Bavard reported that the Subdivision Review Committee met the previous week and it heard a street vacation issue on Trapper's Lane and an issue involving All Seasons Subdivision.
XIII. PLANNING COMMISSION COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS
Mr. Sanford complemented staff on the placement of signs in the vicinity of Cordova Street and Pioneer Avenue announcing tonights meeting. The placement provided the maximum amount of notice. Mr. Sanford also reported that the contentious construction zone on Abby Way has been completely cleaned up and looks great.
Mr. Bavard also commended staff for their extensive and thorough preparation for tonights meeting. The number of community meetings that involved the parties as well as Assembly members worked together to create a smooth and businesslike meeting tonight. Emotions and opinions were strong and tempers could have easily gotten out of control but for the excellent advance work of CDD and Parks and Recreation staff.
There being no other business and no objection, Vice Chair Bavard adjourned the meeting at 8:45 p.m.