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Home Depot store issues go before planners Tuesday

Firm seeks variance to parking quota

Posted: Monday, January 09, 2006

Juneau community development staff is recommending the Planning Commission approve preliminary plans for a Home Depot store west of Costco in the Lemon Creek area, along with a request to have fewer parking spaces than the city normally requires of a retailer.

The matters are scheduled to be considered at the Planning Commission meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Assembly Chambers.

Juneau Community Development Director Dale Pernula said the commission is not involved with the sale of land to Home Depot, a national home-improvement retailer. It will concern a subdivision of the land that includes the 10 acres proposed for the store site, conditional use of the property for retail sales and a variance to normal parking requirements, he said.

Tuesday's meeting will mark the first anniversary of a resolution passed by the Juneau Assembly that authorized the sale of about 10 acres to Home Depot at the site of a former gravel pit next to the Costco property.

The "home-improvement superstore," as planners refer to it, would have 125,886 square feet of floor space.

Recommendations of city planner Nathan Bishop show that neighbors have questioned how the proposed subdivision of the land would affect their living environment. Neighbors cited the glare of lights, noise and impacts on Vanderbilt Creek.

"In general, the proposed subdivision will be in character with the surrounding industrial-zoned lands," he wrote.

After Costco, the nearest neighbor would be a plumbing and heating contractor that also has retail sales. The subdivision and the associated development would continue the shift of the area toward retail uses, Bishop added.

The subdivision would require an extension of Commercial Boulevard. The recommendations also note that the plans would increase the need for a second access to the Costco area. It asks the Assembly to commit resources to begin planning and design for a second access into the Lemon Creek industrial area.

Juneau parking standards dictate one parking space for every 200 feet of floor space for retail stores. That would mean 629 parking spaces would be needed for the Home Depot. The store is asking for a 30 percent reduction, to drop the number to 481.

Bishop wrote that there was a question of whether the ratio of square footage to parking spaces was appropriate for big-box stores and whether it would lead to poor land use. Store studies have shown that they need fewer spaces, he said, in recommending the variance be granted.

"In Juneau, Home Depot will be serving a population base of approximately 31,000," Bishop wrote. "If you account for regional shoppers, this market could perhaps be expanded to 50,000. Therefore it is probably safe to assume that the parking demand in Juneau will be at the low end of the numbers predicted in the national surveys."

• Tony Carroll can be reached at tony.carroll@juneauempire.com.



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