MINUTES
PLANNING COMMISSION
CITY AND BOROUGH OF JUNEAU
REGULAR MEETING
November 14, 2000

Vice-Chair Mike Bavard called the special meeting of the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission to order at 7:00 p.m., in the Assembly Chambers of City Hall.

I. ROLL CALL

Commissioners present: Mike Bavard, Dan Bruce, Maria Gladisziewski, Marshal Kendziorek, Merrill Sanford, Jody Vick

Commissioners absent: Roger Allington, Johan Dybdahl, Mark Pusich

A quorum was present.

Staff present: Cheryl Easterwood, Director of Community Development; Terry Camery, CDD Planner

II. APPROVAL OF MINUTES

October 24, 2000 - Regular Meeting

Motion by Mr. Kendziorek, to approve the minutes of the regular meeting with a correction. Hearing no objection, it was so ordered.

III. PUBLIC PARTICIPATION ON NON-AGENDA ITEMS - None

IV. CONSENT AGENDA

Mr. Bavard announced that in addition to the original three items on the Consent Agenda, the ordinance from the Regular Agenda would be added. Mr. Bavard read the 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 commissioners.

Mr. Bavard advised the Commission that he had a conflict of interest with regard to the ordinance as it affected his employer. He removed himself from consideration of TXT2000-00001, but made himself available for the other items on the Consent Agenda.

Motion: by Mr.Vick to approve the Consent Agenda that included USE2000-00067; SUB2000-00045; SUB2000-00036; and TXT2000-00001 (as listed below). There being no objection, it was so ordered.

USE2000-00067

A Conditional Use permit to allow conversion of a portion of an existing warehouse to a retail business in an industrial zoning district.

Location: 5448 SHAUNE DRIVE

Applicant: CHRIS JENSEN

Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission adopt the director's analysis and findings and grant the requested Conditional Use permit. The permit would allow the conversion of a portion of an existing warehouse to a retail business in an industrial zoned district.

SUB2000-00045

Final plat for Shady Creek Subdivision.

Location: 2227-2243 GREAT WESTERN STREET

DOUGLAS, ALASKA 99824

Applicant: BYRNE GEBHARDT

Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission adopt staff's findings and approve the final plat for the approval of a nine-unit common wall subdivision, with the remaining units to be submitted for minor subdivision review and recording when the buildings are completed.

SUB2000-00036

A plat amendment request to vacate 9.4 feet of a 20-foot existing easement adjacent to the Cohen Drive right-of-way for placement of a detached garage.

Location: 19880 COHEN DRIVE

Applicant: HEIDI BROCIOUS

Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission adopt staff's findings and grant the plat amendment to vacate 9.4 feet of the 20 foot easement for construction of a detached garage at 19880 Cohen Drive with the following condition:

The applicant will provide an agreement, acceptable to the city attorney's office and to be signed by the city manager, stating that if Cohen Drive is widened, the city will reconstruct the driveway to no less than a 20 percent grade. The property owner will bear all additional costs if he or she chooses to further lower the grade.

TXT2000-00001

Text Amendment to change the Table of Permissible Uses to allow Major Utility Facilities as a Conditional Use in MU, Mixed Use, Zoning District.

Applicant: City and Borough of Juneau

Staff recommendation: That the Planning Commission recommend to the Assembly to adopt TXT2000-0001, Ordinance Serial No. 2000-46, an ordinance amending the Land Use Code Table of Permissible Uses to allow Major Utility Facilities as a Conditional Use in MU, Mixed Use, Zoning Districts.

V. REGULAR AGENDA.

MIN2000-0002

A Small Mine permit for a placer mining operation with ongoing reclamation to be conducted six days a week for about two years.

Location: JACOBSEN DRIVE

Applicant: THUNDER MOUNTAIN MINERALS, INC.

Staff report: Community Development Director, Cheryl Easterwood reviewed for the commission the last actions taken at the September 26, 2000 Regular Meeting. At that time, the permit was tabled pending the receipt of additional information to be provided by the applicant. Specifically, the Commission requested an updated project description, additional information with regard to noise and additional information from CBJ staff pertaining to the bond. Ms. Easterwood announced that she would address those items tonight.

Updated project description - This information was provided to the Commissioners and Ms. Easterwood would be available to answer questions in that regard.

Noise - The applicant hired an acoustical consultant to complete a noise analysis. The consultant found that the total noise levels produced by the operation would be approximately 94 dBAs. This translates into 61 dBAs audible from receiver locations in Douglas. Based upon that information, the consultant concluded that additional mitigation would be required for the project. The applicant had proposed container vans and the consultant concluded that that was a reasonable measure. After analysis, he found that there would be no reverberation. Stacking of the container vans would reduce the noise by about 22 dBAs. Ms. Easterwood submitted Mr. McNair's raw data to an additional impartial noise consultant for review. Ms. Easterwood’s independent noise consultant agreed with Mr. McNair on all points with the exception of the effectiveness of the vans. The independent consultant predicted that the container vans reduce the noise levels by 16 to 19 dBA. Regardless of which noise consultant's figures are relied upon, the studies demonstrate that the noise levels produced by the mine are below baseline noise level in Douglas. Ms. Easterwood predicts that the operation should be quiet and would not become a concern for Douglas residents.

Ms. Easterwood addressed the issue of additional monitoring. The applicant's consultant, Mr. Nair stands by his computations and analysis, which show the vans reducing the noise by 22 dBA. And since the noise levels would be therefore so low as it would be unreasonable to require the applicant to conduct additional sound monitoring of the project. The independent consultant, Ms. Park believes that it is always reasonable to ask an applicant to monitor - at least at the start-up to insure that the project is in compliance. The important detail is that the two acoustical consultants show that the noise levels will be below what would be considered problematic by residents.

The Bond: In September, Terry Brenner had originally suggested a bond amount of $25,000. That bond covers reclamation of the mine site such as filling in the holes and removing equipment, which may be left on site. The Commission asked for another examination on what an appropriate bond amount would be. Mr. Brenner reviewed this a second time and considered the impact on nearby CBJ facilities if a catastrophic event occurred. Under that analysis, a bond of $150,000 would be needed. Mr. Brenner also revisited the issue of reclaiming the land and he determined that a bond of $10,000 would be required.

The applicant submitted a letter from his bank that indicates it would cover the bond that is required by the State of Alaska. The bank states that it will also cover the CBJ in the event of damages to public structures. Mr. Hartle, from the CBJ Law Department reviewed the letter and he determined that it was insufficient to insure that the CBJ is covered. The CBJ would require its own financial warranty.

Staff recommendation: On the basis of the Recommended Findings set forth, the Director recommends that a Small Mine Permit be approved for the operation of the AJ Rock Dump Gold Project. The Director recommends that the project be subject to the following permit conditions, which are reasonably necessary to mitigate adverse impacts, which may result from the mining operation. Further, the Director recommends that a financial warranty be established in the amount of $150,000, and grant the requested Small Mine Permit subject to the following conditions:

  1. The permit shall be effective for a period of two years from the date of issuance.
  2. The mine shall not operate on Sundays or state or federally recognized holidays.
  3. Prior to commencement of operations, the applicant shall provide to CDD a contract or other binding commitment that AML: will have available throughout the term of this permit, container vans to serve as visual and noise barriers. The vans must be sufficient in number to screen the operation from Douglas residents.
  4. The containers shall be placed tightly abutted end to end and the doors of the containers shall be closed.
  5. The impact mill shall be housed in an insulated container van or the equivalent as approved by the department.
  6. The screen shall be fitted with rubber screens.
  7. The screen and the mill shall not be operated between the hours of 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  8. The operator shall contact CDD a week before start up. If monitoring by CDD establishes that noise levels exceed the predicted noise levels, then the operation must cease until further mitigation is implemented so that the noise levels do not exceed 48 dBA between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 43 dBA between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
  9. The operator shall use ambient-sensitive vehicle back-up alarms set at the lowest noise levels that are still consistent with good safety practices and Mine Safety and Health Administration requirements.
  10. Copies of the inspection results for the backfilled areas shall be submitted to the CBJ Engineering Department to verify suitability of the soil for building construction on each lot.
  11. Upon completion of the backfilling operation, the CBJ Department of Public Works, Wastewater Division, will inspect the sewer main between lots 6 and 7 to ensure the line has not been damaged or settled. Any repair work required for the main will be at the expense of Thunder Mountain Minerals, Inc.
  12. Any lighting used in the operation must be shielded so that there is no direct line of sight from the light to the receiving Douglas properties.

Mr. Vick asked what catastrophic events Mr. Brenner considered in his second analysis of the bond requirement.

Ms. Easterwood said restoration measures including removing spilled oil or hydraulic fluids, repairing public right-of-ways, streets and sidewalks that might be damaged from over-excavation or undermining of side-slopes. Repairing sewer lines, repairing damaged buffer burms, additional restoration of compacting all filled cells and seeding slopes.

Mr. Bavard asked what consideration were the nearby businesses given during the research on the impacts of the mine. What noise requirements for the surrounding area must be met?

Ms. Easterwood indicated that the project site is in an industrially zoned area, rather than a residential area. Ms. Easterwood had earlier calculated the noise level in the surrounding area to be under 70 dBAs, which is acceptable numbers in an industrially zoned area.

Mr. Kendziorek disagreed with the notion that the mine would not be a problem for Douglas residents. He commented that the noise from the mine project would be noticeably the louder than anything else in Douglas.

Ms. Easterwood clarified that the guiding information suggests that 90 per cent of the time, the noise environment in Douglas would be louder than 43 dBAs. This means that the mine would not be the predominant noise very much of the time.

Mr. Kendziorek emphasized that it might be the predominant noise heard in Douglas some of the time. Ms. Easterwood stated that if nothing was going on, for example, no lawn mowers or cars operating and it was totally quiet, then the mine might be the predominant noise some of the time, or approximately 10 per cent of the time.

Public Testimony:

Clark Damon: a resident of Douglas, raised the point that no one is taking responsibility for the cumulative noise. He points out that in addition to the mining operations, there would be helicopter noise and airplane noise as well. What would be the cumulative effect of all the activities?

Dave Hanna, 11495 Mendenhall Loop Road, commented that the applicant has done their homework and he believed it was time to move forward. Mr. Hanna suggested that all of the things that Mr. Brenner considered in terms of a bond would also be covered under the Contractor's General Liability insurance policy. A solution might be for the applicant to name the City as an additional insured. This would leave only the need for an actual land reclamation bond.

Barry Wink, is the applicant and he urged the Planning Commission to approve the permit. He stated that the evidence shows the mining operation to be below the guidelines for the noise levels acceptable for Douglas. With regard to the bonding issue, Mr. Wink states that Thunder Mountain Minerals would have liability insurance at the time the project got under way. Mr. Wink spoke with Thane Road and Douglas residents to explain the scope of the project and to answer questions. During public testimony at the September 26th meeting, there were concerns about catastrophic events at the Rock Dump. Mr. Wink said that the mine would go down to a maximum of 60 feet, out of the 150-foot total tailing depth. He points to the tank farm belonging to Delta Western and states that if a catastrophic event were going to occur it certainly would have been triggered by the weight of that development. A lot of geotechnical data exists and it all indicates that the ground is stable. Mr. Wink states that they want to be good neighbors and will continue to work with the residents of Douglas.

Mr. Vick asked if Thunder Mountain Minerals had any objections to the proposed Conditions placed on the permit. Mr. Wink said that they are confident that they would operate within the sound limits imposed by CBJ and so they didn't have concerns there. He did feel that having to bond for $650,000 for this project was excessive and he also agreed to with Mr. Hanna's suggestion of naming the City as an additional insured. Mr. Wink stated that they could live with the twelve Conditions and they were eager to move forward.

Mr. Kendziorek asked if Thunder Mountain Minerals would agree to set a Condition that sets the sound level that shall not be exceeded to 39 dBAs. Mr. Wink stated the City's cap set out in Condition No. 8 of 48 and 43 dBAs would be more acceptable. Mr. Wink said their noise output would be well under the Code.

Mr. Kendziorek asked if the applicant would agree to substitute the dBA cap in Condition No. 8 with the applicant's worst-case sound scenario of 39 dBA? Mr. Kendziorek said it would merely be a using the data that the applicant himself had provided. Mr. Wink did not agree to that substitution.

Mr. Bavard asked when the mine is expected to commence operations. Mr. Wink said that the equipment would take some time to arrive in Juneau but the mine would definitely begin operations this winter.

Kirby Day, 1302 Tarn Court, testified that he works in a business located near the proposed mine site. He asked what the sound impact on neighboring businesses would be.

Mr. Kendziorek stated that his understanding of the noise analysis indicated 60 dBAs would be detectable at the location of the nearby businesses on the Rock Dump. That was equivalent to a freight train or a freeway.

Ms. Easterwood pointed out to Commissioners a letter from Robert Reges, who suggests a monitoring scheme that would be appropriate to apply. He also suggested a daytime noise limit of 47 dBAs and nighttime standard be set at "inaudible. " Ms. Easterwood advised against using the term, "inaudible" suggesting rather that at decibel be stated.

Mr. Bavard asked Ms. Easterwood to address the issue of cumulative noise and overall noise impact. Ms. Easterwood stated that based upon recent noise surveys in Juneau, the overall noise levels have not increased dramatically. They have in fact increased less than what would be expected with the population growth.

Mr. Vick commented that it is not possible to walk in the snow without creating 45 dBAs. Further, noise doesn't add. Its cumulative to the extent that the highest dBA level you have is what the noise level is.

Mr. Kendziorek pointed out the materials that demonstrate how noise levels accumulate logarithmically rather than by adding levels. However, there is some cumulative effect and he maintained that based upon the material provided, there would be a is a modest increase of noise to the residents of Douglas.

Mr. Bruce noted that the Planning Commission had some practical experience that they could turn to. Several years ago, Secon had a similar operation located at the same site, which resulted in no complaints from residents of Douglas. He asked Ms. Easterwood if the CBJ attorney had reviewed the letter dated November 10 from Wells Fargo, which was provided by the applicant. Ms. Easterwood said the attorney reviewed the letter in terms of a bond but that the insurance provision has not been discussed. If there was evidence that the insurance was in effect and in sufficient amount to cover the CBJ's interests, then it is possible that all the applicant would need is a bond covering the reclamation only. She stated that the CBJ has no evidence at this time.

Mr. Bruce suggested that in the event the applicant's General Liability Policy covers the CBJ for those catastrophic events, then a provision in the Condition be added that eliminates the need for that aspect of the bond. Next, determine that the bond that is being posted for the State of Alaska will also satisfy the City's reclamation issues.

Commission Action:

Motion: by Mr. Bruce that the Planning Commission adopt staff's analysis, findings and recommendations and grant MIN2000-0002 with the addition that in the event that the applicant can satisfy the legal department and the CDD that their General Contractor’s Liability Policy protects the City's interest in the event of a catastrophic accident on the site, that the $150,000 bond not be necessary. And that the $500,000 bond that is being posted to the State of Alaska be modified so that it also applies to the City's interest in terms of reclamation.

Ms. Gladziszewski suggested Director recommends that a financial warranty is established in the amount of $150,000 unless and until the City Attorney certifies that other guarantees are sufficient.

Mr. Bruce agreed to Ms. Gladziszewski's revised wording.

Mr. Vick spoke in favor of the motion, stating that he enjoys the activities on the waterfront and he thinks the addition of the small mining operation would add further interest.

Ms. Gladziszewski suggested a possible amendment to No. 8. She clarified that "at receiver locations in Douglas" be added to clarify the intent of that condition.

Condition No. 8 shall state, "The operator shall contact CDD a week before start up. If monitoring by CDD establishes that noise levels exceed the predicted noise levels, then the operation must cease until further mitigation is implemented so that the noise levels at receiver locations in Douglas do not exceed 48 dBA between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m. and 43 dBA between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m."

Mr. Bruce accepted that amendment.

Mr. Kendziorek spoke in opposition of the permit. He stated the Secon venture was a short-term project and as such it was not analogous to the Small Mine permit before the Commission now. Locating this mine project at the Rock Dump was a bad idea. Mr. Kendziorek noted that with the addition of an air inversion and the fact that sound carries over water, the noise level detected in Douglas may be actually is louder than what is predicted. The mine would be the loudest thing heard in Douglas.

Mr. Sanford said that if the applicant can meet the guidelines, then the mine would fit into the waterfront activities at the Rock Dump. Further, he supported the clean up of the heavy metals and thought the project was a good idea.

Ms. Easterwood wanted to clarify the bond issue. She stated that the permit cannot be issued until CDD receives the bond in hand and the City Attorney has approved it.

Mr. Bavard asked Ms. Gladziszewski to restate the amendment pertaining to the bond.

Ms. Gladziszewski stated, "The Director recommends that the project be subject to the following permit conditions, which are reasonably necessary to mitigate adverse impacts, which may result from the mining operation. Further, the Director recommends that a financial warranty be established in the amount of $150,000, unless and until the City Attorney certifies that other guarantees provided by the applicant are sufficient and grant the requested Small Mine Permit subject to the following conditions,"

Ms. Gladziszewski commented that it means that the applicant is required to post a bond in the amount of $150,000 unless they come in with proof of other means of coverage.

ROLL CALL VOTE:

Yeas: Bavard, Bruce, Gladziszewski, Sanford, Vick

Nays: Kendziorek

The motion passes 5 - 1.

VI. DIRECTOR'S REPORT

Ms. Easterwood stated that the Assembly makes appointments to the two open Planning Commission seats on Monday, November 20th. At the next Regular meeting, election of officers and committee appointments would taken up.

The next date for the Golf Course has not been set. Ms. Easterwood reported that the project was very much alive but that the department is taking special care to verify that the application is complete.

Ms. Easterwood asked Commissioners what their December plans were. It was agreed that there would be one Regular meeting in December and no meeting on December 26th.

VII. COMMITTEE REPORTS.

Mr. Sanford reported that the Lands Committee met to discuss the Juneau Gun Club lease, which was approved for 20 years and sent forward to the Assembly. He reported on the planned improvements and a new potential indoor gun range. Also, the Lemon Creek gravel pit is nearing the end of its productive life. There was discussion of potential rock pit locations. He also reported on a proposal for a new CAT road at Spaulding Meadows so that snow mobilers and cross country skiers could access the upper meadows.

Mr. Kendziorek reported that the Transportation Steering Committee met to discuss a list of deficiencies in anticipation of a meeting next week.

VIII. PLANNING COMMISSION COMMENTS AND QUESTIONS

Mr. Vick said that he was recently up at the Jackson Street parking lot and he said it looked great. He was impressed with the speed of its construction as well as the quality.

IX. ADJOURNMENT

Mr. Bavard adjourned the meeting at 8:00 p.m.