A local construction company is appealing the city’s decision last month to deny rezoning the area dubbed the “Field of Fireweed.”
The City and Borough of Juneau Assembly unanimously voted Monday to accept Bicknell, Inc.’s appeal and also to use an outside hearing officer to handle the appeal.
Assemblyman Jerry Nankervis voted against.
“This is a very public issue, you can tell by the number of people that are in the room,” he said. “And I think since it’s a public issue the Assembly should sit and hear this.”
Bicknell applied to rezone the field located near the airport for industrial development in December 2012. Since then, environmental activists and community members have rallied against the rezone, leading up to the planning commission’s Jan. 14 decision to deny the construction company’s request. Chambers were packed Monday with Field of Fireweed advocates, but public testimony was not taken.
The Assembly also accepted an appeal by Juneau residents Jody and Joyce Vick. The city decided in January that the Vicks’ dog, Sushi, should be designated a “dangerous animal” for attacking and killing another dog in November 2013. The Vicks are appealing the city’s designation.
The Assembly voted to hear the appeal itself and opted not to use an outside hearing officer. Assemblyman Jesse Kiehl will serve as the hearing officer for the case.
The Assembly also approved an ordinance that places a moratorium on any further cellphone towers in the city until May of this year.
Two Juneau residents spoke out against any further cellphone towers in the city. John Lyman, of Fritz Cove Road, came to the stand with a poster of the view from his house, complete with a blinking red Christmas light.
“What we should have is a real opportunity for the public to participate in the structuring of the final ordinance and in the siting of different towers,” Lyman said. About his prop, he said, “I’d like to shut this off, but it goes on 24-7.”
Nankervis, Assemblyman Randy Wanamaker and Mayor Merrill Sanford voted against the ordinance.
“The cellphone towers are going up because it’s market demand,” Nankervis said. “People in Juneau want service no matter where they go. Unfortunately, what comes with that is towers.”
Also at its Monday meeting, the Assembly approved a couple ordinances allocating money to various projects around town: $300,000 for the new Mendenhall Valley Library from the Juneau Public Library Endowment Agency Fund, and $200,000 to the Juneau Arts and Humanities Council for a new performing arts center. The grant for the center comes from the Airport Snow Removal Equipment Facility Capital Project.
The Assembly also approved a transfer of responsibility for the Juneau-Douglas City Museum from the Parks and Recreation Department to the Libraries Department.
“This move allows both entities to more effectively share resources, co-host programs and exhibits, seek grant opportunities, and advocate for the future of Juneau’s shared collections, resources, and community gathering spaces,” Kiefer stated in her Manager’s Report.
Directors of both departments recommended the transfer of the museum to the Libraries Department, the report stated.
Juneau-Douglas High School student Derek Dzinch was awarded a Mayoral Award and key to the city for being named honorary mayor. Dzinch sat in on Monday’s Assembly meeting and spent part of the day with the mayor while being briefed on city issues. The new Assembly program identifies outstanding students from each of the three high schools and gives them experience in city government.