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Veterans for Peace continues battle against gun range

Appeal hearing scheduled for April 1

Posted: February 12, 2013 - 9:36pm  |  Updated: February 13, 2013 - 1:02am

There’s no white flag and no truce on the horizon for Juneau’s Veterans for Peace as a second pre-appeal hearing fails to bring a settlement in the group’s fight against a proposed 3,000 square-foot ground-level retail space and a 10-lane underground gun range.

Veterans for Peace Juneau Chapter president Phil Smith and owners of the Mercantile and Armory LLC met with City and Borough of Juneau Assembly Member and appeal hearing officer Loren Jones and CBJ Senior Planner Greg Cheney Tuesday for a second pre-appeal hearing in City Hall.

Smith said the appellants failed to address his main appeal concerns in a multi-page record provided to the appellant after the first pre-appeal hearing in January. That concern was that the city failed to properly address human health and safety during deliberations by the City and Borough of Juneau Planning Commission of Mercantile and Armory LLC’s building permit.

The commission approved the Armory’s Conditional Use Permit on Dec. 11, 2012. Smith submitted an appeal for Veterans for Peace on Jan. 2.

CBJ Senior Planner Greg Cheney represents the Planning Commission. He said the city contacted Juneau’s police department and asked if officers had any concern about the Armory opening its business. There was no concern, he said.

Smith said he did not see that described in the city’s record and wanted some documentation of the conversation or to interview the city staff involved.

Smith said his second concern was also unaddressed. Before and during the Planning Commission’s hearing the Armory owners conducted site work on the proposed location at the corner of Yandukin Drive, Crest Street and Airport Boulevard. Smith said this gives an impression of confidence that the owners, including CBJ Planning Commissioner Dan Miller, knew the permit would go through.

“I’m not accusing anyone of anything,” Smith said. It just gives enough of an impression that it deserves a deeper look, he said.

Appellees and Armory owners CBJ Assembly Member Dan Miller, Sloan Swendsen and Jason Tarver were all in attendance. The group has acquired attorney Daniel Bruce of Baxter Bruce and Sullivan Attorneys at Law. Bruce will speak for the Appellees. They are withholding comment at this time.

During the pre-appeal hearing Bruce said the Armory’s pre-permit work is normal and does not indicate nefarious intent.

“Developers have a reasonable expectation to have their permits approved,” Bruce said. He said Smith’s written accusation amounts to libel.

Appeal Officer Jones plans to deliver a final report to Smith before the end of the week. After several weeks of back and forth between the parties an appeal hearing could happen as early as April 1.

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

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