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Johnson Youth Center to expand

Posted: August 23, 2011 - 8:47pm

The Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities received unanimous approval from the City and Borough of Juneau’s Planning Commission for permits to expand Johnson Youth Center Tuesday night.

The plans for expansion increase the number of beds for youth served by four, create several new offices and meeting areas and add a new sally port security entry.

Johnson Youth Center has short- and long-term detention rooms and currently has 26 beds. The application states this number is too few to serve Juneau’s needs.

There are three building sections that comprise the center — the core, treatment and annex. The core building is the only one that will be expanding.

The commission approved the conditional use permit and consistency review permit.

Floor plans can be found at

The commission also began hearing testimony on approval of a conditional use permit for two accessory apartments in two detached single-family homes near Hughes Way. The owners, James and Linda Keikkalas, have put accessory apartments into their buildings without prior city permit approval. Inspectors revealed the situation and the owners are now applying for the permit.

Neighbors are opposed to the approval of the permit, testifying they don’t want apartments in their neighborhood, the street is already crowded and the Keikkalases already broke city code and shouldn’t be rewarded with a permit. The neighbors also say it doesn’t meet neighborhood harmony because it’s causing strife amongst them. Commissioner Marsha Bennett noted there’s a difference between the neighbor’s argument of “in harmony” versus planning code. Planning code looks at whether the dwelling or development itself is at harmony with surrounding property.

The Keikkalases argued they had a permit to build bedrooms and bathrooms in the buildings, but not kitchens. The Keikkalases entered into a memorandum of understanding with adjacent property owners to extend the road to their property so that would allow them to subdivide. If they subdivided, they would likely be able to have multiple dwelling units. They said it was an error the kitchens were put in ahead of permitting.

“There was a violation of the permit, and we’re working to correct that,” said James Keikkalas.

Commission Chair Maria Gladziszewski asked for city planner Kelly Keenan’s clarification on a question of whether the conditional use permit would be against the comprehensive plan. Keenan explained due to the size of the lot, the apartments would be permissible.

Community Development Director Dale Pernula recommended they come back with a request for a permit once the road access issues have been resolved because he believes the narrow road is a safety issue for the Keikkalases property, which is only connected to the road via an easement. The commission heard testimony from the fire department saying the road does not meet code in width or with turn-around access at the end.

The commission was still hearing testimony at the Empire’s print deadline.

The commission also was scheduled to take action on a 48-dwelling unit apartment complex project which proposed four two-story buildings along Stephen Richards Memorial Drive.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at

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