Assembly's lack of knowledge

My turn

Posted: Monday, March 05, 2001

The headline on the front page of the Empire on Feb. 27 stated: "Tee Harbor lodge wins 2nd chance before city."

My wife and I are long time property owners and residents of Cohen Dr., and first of all, let's get the facts straight. The Juneau Assembly did not give the "Tee Harbor Lodge" a second chance. The "Lodge" for short-term rentals (bed and breakfast) and with a different name is already in operation. "The Lodge" can also be rented for longer periods "in the off season" (referring to the lack of tourists). And "The commission in September" did not "unanimously" reject Mr. Malicks' request for a conditional use permit for a "two-bedroom bunkhouse-style lodge for short-term rentals" as the Juneau Empires' article suggests. In September 2000 what the Planning and Zoning Commission "unanimously rejected" was Mr. Malick's application for a conditional use permit for the operation of a "commercial resort and campground" in a residential (D1) neighborhood.

If the permit had been accepted, conditions recommended by the Community Development Department and then enhanced by the Planning and Zoning Commission, would have limited the resort to 28 short-term renters and campers a day, and up to 100 people (weddings and meetings, etc.) two times a year. Mr. Malicks' original permit application was for a project of larger scale, but the actual size and scope of which he never clearly defined during the public hearing. In Mr. Malicks' opinion most of the conditions were unacceptable and he basically told the commission that he likes to keep all his options open. Because of this disparity, the inability of the applicants' obligation, as defined by law to provide sufficient information as to the overall negative impact of the project, and the overwhelming (71 percent) neighborhood opposition to it, the commission unanimously denied the permit.

During the appeal process Feb. 26, the assembly, with disregard for the appellate process and "testimony on the record," allowed the applicant to virtually rewrite his original application. Mr. Malick in response to questioning by assembly members described a project of lesser degree than was presented before the commission in September 2000. The assembly, by granting the appeal to Mr. Malicks' "augmented" commission testimony; it now by definition became a new application. And the assembly, by referring this application back to the commission without first being filed with the Community Development Department showed lack of knowledge and experience on their part for the conditional use permit application process.

I agree with the applicant when referring to the Juneau assembly's' "unanimously" granting his appeal. Mr. Malick stated the assembly's decision sets a new standard for denying conditional use permits: "uncertainty is no longer going to be a valid reason to fight a project in order to kill it." But, is this a "new standard" or in reality the "lack of a standard" to which we want future commercial development in Juneau to adhere to?

Is it prudent judgment by individuals or governmental agencies to ignore the possible negative ramifications of their actions in response to any given situation or in the name of progress? There are people who act and respond to daily life this way and some of these individuals were elected and/or are presently working for local government agencies or businesses. I feel that voting constituents would not long tolerate of their elected governmental officials, utilizing this strategy as part of an overall plan of operation in the implementation of policies and procedures. I also feel that if this strategy were routinely used by the private sector, that business or industry would not long survive.

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