Spuhn Island project heats up

Mainland neighbors fear more traffic; community meeting planned for Thursday

Posted: Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Developers proposing home lots on Spuhn Island say they hope the more neighbors know about their plans, the less threatened they will feel.

For now, some mainland neighbors fear increased traffic and pollution.

Developers' plans calls for 38 waterfront lots, ranging from 112 to 3 acres on the island just off Mendenhall Peninsula. Three major inland parcels were drawn up, but there are no plans to develop them, said developer Karla Allwine.

"I don't see the impact as being an issue," she said.

Deed restrictions will prevent clear-cutting of trees to preserve the beauty of the island, Allwine said at a city Subdivision Review Committee meeting Tuesday. Developers also are identifying trees frequented by eagles to mark them for protection.

"We tried to do it very responsibly," she said.

She also said she doesn't foresee the effect on Fritz Cove Road - the most common cause for opposition that has come up in the community. Spuhn Island won't be filled with full-time residents who will be commuting, she said.

Project opponent Pat Harris parks at the end of Fritz Cove Road and walks to her home on the beach. After listening to the committee discussion, she said she was happy to meet the people behind the project.

But she remains opposed to the plans.

She said the short distance between Spuhn Island and the end of Fritz Cove Road makes her neighborhood particularly vulnerable.

"I'm concerned about the cumulative impact," she said.

City planner Nathan Bishop said there is concern in the Community Development Department that many people would live on the island full-time. He said he hopes to make more headway in addressing community concerns in a meeting Thursday.

A neighborhood informational meeting about the subdivision is planned for 7 p.m. Thursday at the Auke Bay School Library.

A flier circulating to inform people about the meeting expresses concern that a subdivision with up to 60 lots - rather than the planned 38 - will require access to Juneau's road system by water - to Auke Bay Harbor, North Douglas Island and the end of Fritz Cove Road.

Fritz Cove Road resident Dixie Belcher said Tuesday she is concerned that the Spuhn Island development would increase traffic on her street, forcing it to be widened and taking away homes.

She said the 22-foot-wide road already carries about 1,400 drivers a day.

City Planning Commissioner Mike Bavard said Tuesday he would like to know more about potential effects to nearby areas and would like comments from the Docks and Harbors Commission.

Murray Walsh, working on the project from Walsh Planning & Development Services, told planning officials Tuesday they should not look at the potential impact as if the project will fill out as a residential subdivision with daily commuters.

It could take 10 years to build out, and when it does, most of the houses will be recreational, he said.

"To buy one of those, you're going to have to be close to retirement age anyway," he said.

People are not going to want to make the crossing frequently in the winter, he said. The minority of full-time residents would likely be retirees who would only want to get into town every couple of weeks.

Allwine said she has talked with people interested in buying lots. Four people have indicated they are looking only for investment property and two others are in their 40s and looking for retirement properties.

Harris questioned the recreational intent of the subdivision. She gasped during the meeting when Allwine said covenants and restrictions set the minimum building size at 1,500 square feet.

"These are not cabins," she said later. She lives in a 600-square-foot home, she added.

Belcher said she sees the development only increasing the pollution that already has become a problem on the beaches off Fritz Cove Road.

"I would like to see how the neighborhood meeting turns out," Bavard said. He also said he would like to have another subdivision review meeting next week. The matter is scheduled to go to the Juneau Planning Commission on May 11 for a conditional-use permit.

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



CONTACT US

  • Switchboard: 907-586-3740
  • Circulation and Delivery: 907-586-3740
  • Newsroom Fax: 907-586-3028
  • Business Fax: 907-586-9097
  • Accounts Receivable: 907-523-2230
  • View the Staff Directory
  • or Send feedback

ADVERTISING

SUBSCRIBER SERVICES

SOCIAL NETWORKING