Planners OK subdivision with sewage requirements

Commissioner says conditions added to plan will ensure success for septic treatment systems

Posted: Wednesday, March 09, 2005

The Juneau Planning Commission granted preliminary approval to a 22-lot residential subdivision at Lena Point Tuesday night, with a promise to keep it clean.

Planner Nathan Bishop said the key question with the proposal has always concerned wastewater management. Conditions tacked onto his recommendation for approval established a secondary system to ensure the best success for on-site septic treatment systems.

"We want it to work," Scott Jenkins, a project development partner, told commissioners. "We have agreed to have CBJ inspect every single one of these (individual systems)."

He said he hopes to have the 33,000-foot lots available by July.

Bishop's report noted that on-site sewage treatment can work in theory, but has often failed in practice. The report pointed to both the Bonnie Brae and Bayview subdivisions, where the city eventually had to accept ownership of the systems at great expense.

John Bowman, chief regulatory engineer for the city, said there are about 2,000 on-site lot disposal systems in Juneau - "many of which are failing."

He said the subdivision plan looks like it will work, with a filter system in place that will plug up toilets and prevent them from flushing when the system is failing.

A condition suggested by Commissioner Dan Bruce requires an approved blasting plan by an accredited blaster to break up the bedrock and ensure the broken bedrock is adequate to percolate the sewage.

Commissioners discussed how the systems would be tested for adequacy when they are being installed. Bishop said that if the system is proved inadequate while being tested, "we'll have to revisit it."

Several commissioners noted the work that staff had put into the complicated question of sanitation since the project first came to them last summer.

Commissioner Peggy Ann McConnochie praised the work Bishop put into the project.

Commissioner Jacqueline Fowler said she was impressed with the developer's effort to work with the city and keep wetlands in the area intact.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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