Planning OKs subdivision, height variance for new dorm

Permits for two housing subdivisions and a 120-bed dormitory came under the critical eye of the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission Tuesday night.


Commissioners were split over a permit to develop a 6-lot subdivision along the Mendenhall Loop Road without the requisite pedestrian access.

Commissioner Marsha Bennett said the Juneau’s residents need the nice homes provided by the subdivision.

Commissioner Karen Lawfer said she was not happy with how the subdivision is laid out “like a hockey stick.” She said she did not approve of subdivisions that don’t allow pedestrian access to a pedestrian way.

CBJ needs to “adopt walkable, bikeable as well as drivable developments,” Lawfer said.

The permit passed.

A height variance for a new dorm at the University of Alaska Southeast was also considered.

The five-story building would have 60 rooms within more than 33,000 square feet.

Phase one begins in 2013. Phase two would complete the entire project in 2015. A variance would allow the University of Alaska Southeast build a 47-foot building with in a zone with a 35-foot height maximum. The university said the building is set back against a hillside and a taller height would shrink the building’s overall footprint.

Moving into the campus makes the social experience more central to the experience, which “leads to academic success,” said Keith Gerken, director of facilities services at UAS.

A long walk is currently required of first year students and students without cars.

The variance passed.

The commission took up the task of updating the city’s Capital Improvements Program Tuesday night. The six-year program gets a yearly sprucing-up by the city.

The Draft CIP nomination includes nearly $70 million in projects, including building maintenance, and upgrades of Aurora Harbor and Centennial Hall. Funds for the CIP items come from a 1 percent voter-approved sales tax, marine passenger fees and partial funding with federal grants.

The commission did not address the CIP report before the deadline for this story.

• Contact reporter Russell Stigall at 523-2276 or at


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