The denied conditional use permit for the Statter Harbor master plan was the topic of discussion at a special Docks and Harbors board meeting Thursday before it goes before the city Planning Commission next week for reconsideration.
Port Engineer Gary Gillette presented a “possible way forward” with alterations to the plan that is before planners. Those alterations can’t be considered until the commission reconsiders the current plan, if it so chooses.
“We are in a holding pattern while we determine what it all means. We hope that they reconsider,” Gillette said. “One of the things was that this particular project has gone through four and a half years of review.”
Last week, a conditional use permit for continuation of the Statter Harbor boat launch ramp was denied. At that meeting, public testimony spoke in opposition of the project citing concerns about a lack of green space, inadequate public access, noise levels during the construction period and the devaluation of their property.
A drafted reconsideration letter was presented to the Docks and Harbors board Thursday night outlining the numerous complaints voiced during last week’s Planning Commission meeting. The letter contested those claims and backed the process and the series of iterations the project had gone through in complying with Environmental Protection Agency standards and local ordinances.
The parking spaces allotted in the plan answer a growing trend of boaters who choose to trailer their vessels rather than dock at the harbor, making more parking necessary.
“We’re also building this facility to last for a while,” Gillette said. “We don’t want to build it and have it overwhelmed.”
Concerns that the dock would be too bright and cause an excess of light pollution were also addressed.
“We don’t have a detailed lighting design. The concept we have been incorporating in our last couple of major projects is to use full cutoff LEDs,” Gillette said. “If you drive by you won’t even realize the lights are on.”
The new lighting system would also dim when not in use throughout the facility, but come on if a car drives into the parking lot. Along with light pollution, residents complained about possible noise levels.
“There will always be noise during construction. It’s a temporary thing,” Gillette said. “We expect this to be an 18-month project, but that doesn’t mean construction vehicles will be rolling through 18 months straight.”
The construction will not be in effect throughout that entire time due to changes in tides and other inclement weather, according to Gillette.
Through narrowing lanes and further re-imagining the seawalk that runs along the bay, the board entertained alternatives to the current plan that’s before the planning commission but cannot be considered by them until next week.
Bob Janes, owner of Gastineau Guiding which operates out of Auke Bay, offered testimony for the project.
“I think some concessions will have to be made — more park space is important. I think what’s been missing in this is the sales aspect of it to the Auke Bay community, what that seawalk will do to that community once it’s finished, in terms of property value and evening walks,” Janes said. “I think there should be some creativity put into that seawalk and what it could provide to that community of Auke Bay and the entire community of Juneau. It can be a gem of Statter Harbor if it’s visioned correctly.”
The plan faces reconsideration by the planning commission on May 28.