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Planning Commission gets hypothetical

CBJ planners offer opinions for alternate land use designations

Posted: July 26, 2012 - 12:04am

The City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission took up discussion of the Land Use and Land Use Maps chapters of Juneau’s Comprehensive Plan, Tuesday.

Commissioners decided to limit their discussion of the maps due to the uncertainty of an earlier approved ordinance, which now awaits review by the CBJ Assembly.

Ordinance 2012-31 (goo.gl/gJvc3) would soften strict adherence to the land use maps in the Comprehensive Plan. Re-zoning would remain in “substantial conformance” with the maps, however “re-zonings need not exactly match the designations or the boundaries of the land use maps of the Comprehensive Plan,” according to a memo from CBJ Planner Ben Lyman to the Assembly Lands Committee (goo.gl/1sVJF). The ordinance, Lyman said, would free the CBJ to consider intent of the maps in requests for re-zoning “without requiring strict application of those maps to the zoning map set.”

Commissioner Michael Satre said he believed the commission should be cautious about addressing Chapter 11 of the Comprehensive Plan, the Land Use Maps chapter, “Before we touch any of (existing) descriptions that we may not be able to use going forward.”

In preparation, should the Assembly decide against passage of the ordinance, CBJ staff offered the commissioners other options to what could be seen as “pre-zoning through the Land Use Maps,” according to Lyman’s memo.

“If the Assembly doesn’t approve the ordinance,” Lyman said in his presentation to the commission, “we may want to still consider this as one of our options.” The new land use designations offer planners to look at alternative ways of looking at the maps, he said.

CBJ staff offered five hypothetical land use designations that could simplify the boundaries — commercial, industrial, public use, residential and marine center. The five designations simplify more than a dozen current designations.

In a memo to the Planning Commission Lyman said the designations are hypothetical, not recommended or proposed by staff. The ideas will need revision if the commission decides to pursue, Lyman said.

The CBJ government has “fewer boundaries to worry about getting right with fewer designations,” Lyman said in his presentation to the commission, Tuesday.

Most changes to residential areas will come from chapter four of the plan, currently being reviewed by the Affordable Housing Commission.

Juneau Resident Ralph Kibby asked the commissioners about the amount of public who have commented on the 2012 comprehensive plan update.

“We’ve had a few public comments,” Satre said, “extremely few.”

Kibby said he was concerned that a “major, huge change” to the comprehensive plan did not come with more public outreach.

“It is paramount that we ask for the public input,” Kibby said. “I am surprised that, with something to do with our community, I am the only one here to speak on it.”

Commissioner Satre said current changes to the plan are not expected to be as substantial as the previous update.

The commission is nearing the end of its initial review of the 2012 plan update.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at russell.stigall@juneauempire.com.

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