Assembly updates Comprehensive Plan

Months of work came to fruition Monday when the Juneau Assembly adopted the 2013 Comprehensive Plan update.

The comprehensive plan serves as an underlying reference point for most city decisions affecting development, land use and zoning, said Laurie Sica, the city’s municipal clerk.

“The Planning Commission is constantly challenged to respond to applications for use and rezoning permits, so they need the plan they’re basing their decisions on to be up-to-date,” Sica said.

Three areas in particular — transportation, housing and land use — are the focus of the 2013 update, and the changes primarily strive to intertwine the three as Juneau grows in the future, said Hal Hart, the director of community development.

“Any development, whether it’s your house or something bigger, is an investment in our community,” Hart said. “So having that close to the transit system makes sense.”

The update comes in the midst of a consulting firm gathering public opinion and developing an update to the city’s 1996 transit plan in order to better serve the capital city’s current needs.

Developing more high-density areas allows tax dollars to go further with the transit system while spurring economic growth, Hart said.

“The focus is to make it walkable or bikeable to a bus stop and away you go,” he said.

The Assembly also voted to rezone a parcel of land on Old Glacier Highway between Wal-Mart and Fred Meyer’s from allowing primarily single-family housing to allowing multi-family units such as apartments or condominiums.

The governing body also appropriated $10,000 in state money for upgrades to the Juneau HAZMAT team to increase the team’s response capabilities.

After the regular meeting, Assembly members moved into an executive session to discuss parking management.

Assembly member Mary Becker said the reason for going into a closed session was the “financial implications to the city,” referencing the ongoing issues with the city’s downtown metered parking system.

The Assembly was still in executive session as of press time.

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