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City edits land use, maps in Comprehensive Plan

New zoning ordinance could speed public process

Posted: October 11, 2012 - 12:09am

A new City and Borough of Juneau ordinance garnered different views from planning commissioners Tuesday as the commission took up the topic of land use maps.

The planning commission is in the process of updating the city’s 2008 comprehensive plan over several meetings in 2012.

In the next few weeks the commission is expected to discuss pending rezones and other parcels CBJ staff has recommended looking at closer. The commission would then begin with public outreach and public meetings.

“I worry a little bit … about spending a significant amount of time on the maps,” Commissioner Michael Satre said. “Are we going to open up the Pandora’s box? With public and official input “I wouldn’t be shocked if we got something back to the assembly by April, knowing how these things work.”

The CBJ Assembly passed Ordinance Serial Number 2012 0031(b) this year which loosen the requirements for rezoning conformity to comprehensive plan map boundaries. This could ease some of the commission’s need to produce precise maps in the comprehensive plan.

Satre said the ordinance gives the commission some slack on map boundaries.

Commissioner Dan Miller said he believed the commission should put the time in on the maps. However, he agrees the maps don’t have to match exactly, a zone boundary needs only to be in substantial conformance with comprehensive plan maps. This gives planners “a little wiggle room,” Miller said.

Substantial conformity means commissioners can use the wiggle room to add buffer zones between, say, commercial and residential zones, Lyman said. However the changes must be justified in the commission’s findings or it can be overturned, he said.

Commissioner Karen Lawfer said the ambiguity of the term substantial conformance caused her concern. She asked if the commission could define substantial conformance.

Nathan Bishop said he changed his mind about the use of substantial in the ordinance. He believes the word does not need definition. A definition would impose the type of rigidity the ordinance was meant to avoid.

The plan will retain transitional zoning, Lyman said. This type of zoning is a way for an area, such as North Douglas, to transition from one zone to another as services like water, sewer and road access are added.

“Transitional zoning is very important,” Lyman said. “We’re not going to get rid of it.”

Since the commission is working with a forward-looking plan “we should not be bothering to say what is it right now,” Lyman said, “but what will it be in the future.”

The next CBJ Planning Commission meeting is scheduled for October 23.

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

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