Planners approve multi-unit housing in Valley subdivision

Developer praised by commission for working with neighbors

Posted: Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Rob Worden is hoping to have seven homes to sell in the Nature's Edge subdivision this fall, and neighbors seem to prefer his construction plans to the one they bought into.

Without opposition Tuesday, the Juneau Planning Commission approved preliminary plans for Worden Homes Inc. to build two two-unit and one three-unit building on lots originally zoned for six-unit buildings.

"To purchase the property and put three single houses on it (would be) a bad investment," Worden told commissioners. And while he wouldn't have needed anything more than a building permit to build the six-unit buildings originally allowed on the property, he said decreasing the density made business sense and met with approval in the Chelsea Court neighborhood, which has been developed with single-family homes off the back of Mendenhall Loop Road.

While the lots are now wooded, one Nature's Edge resident said the homes are preferable to what could be going up there.

Todd Boris, a Nature's Edge resident, told commissioners that Worden has almost total support of the property owners. He said people in the area actually were surprised to discover they would allow six-unit structures.

Neighbors, Worden said, "would much prefer homes that are owner-occupied" as opposed to rental units.

"I deal with real estate people all the time," Worden said on the way out of the meeting. "There's a big shortage in affordable housing."

He said that while "starter" homes in Juneau can sell for more than $300,000, he is looking to build units that will sell for $235,000 to $250,000.

Boris said the lone vote against changing the deed restrictions to allow seven "common-wall dwellings" in place of the six-unit buildings came from a home owner who didn't like the architecture of the subdivision's existing duplex.

In order to grant preliminary approval, commissioners approved the preliminary plans, a conditional-use permit to modify the lots and five variances to existing dimensional standards and lot sizes.

Commission Chairman Mike Bavard said he was impressed by Worden's work with the neighbors in the subdivision.

"It's encouraging to see this kind of project," he said. "I applaud the developer for his effort."

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