Zoning change won't benefit neighborhood

Posted: Monday, February 25, 2008

We are writing to alert concerned community members and homeowners throughout the Casey Shattuck subdivision to a proposed rezoning which would create a "light commercial" area out of an entire block in this subdivision.

The AFL CIO Public Employees Union 71, which owns only one of the properties affected by this rezoning request, has applied for a change in the zoning for all properties on the block between the Federal Building, on Ninth Street, and the Resurrection Lutheran Church, on 10th Street, which are not already zoned light commercial. The properties along Glacier Avenue and one house up on both Ninth and 10th streets are already zoned light commercial; the others are residential.

While the city's Community Planning Department characterizes this as a cleanup of zoning, making a nice "transitional zone," it, in reality, opens the neighborhood up to significant risk of commercial development. There would be nothing to stop a developer from buying up all the properties in the block (in fact, two properties are currently for sale) and putting up an office building, or a gymnasium, or any other structure which could conceivably fill the entire block.

There would be no way to oppose this if the zoning is changed. Not only would downtown Juneau lose even more residential properties, but an office or other large building would shadow the adjacent streets and homes and affect view planes for several blocks.

A change from residential to light commercial would also diminish the neighborhood character of the subdivision.

Most of the people I've talked to in "the Flats" say they either bought or rent their homes here because they enjoy the feeling of the neighborhood. Daytime parking is already a problem on these streets, with people from the Federal Building often parking as far away as 12th Street. More congestion, another large empty building at night, fewer private homes? It's not an appealing picture.

The zoning in this area is not broken. If, as the city planning staff says, the AFL-CIO is only interested in building an additional story on their house/office, they are free to apply for a variance, which it seems to us would be a more appropriate mechanism for this very limited change.

Consider contacting your planning commission members or attending the public hearing at 7 p.m. on Tuesday in the Assembly Chambers.

Jim and Susi Gregg Fowler


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