Juneau Assembly hears cottage housing appeal

Posted: Tuesday, May 20, 2008

An attempt to build high-density homes in Juneau will fly or falter on the Juneau Assembly's decision following arguments Monday as one local developer sought to stop another.

Attorney Robert Spitzfadden represented Mary Kay Pusich and Kelly Corrigan in their appeal of a February Juneau Planning Commission decision to permit Bicknell Inc. to build 22 small homes on 3.54 acres next to Corrigan's traditional cul-de-sac development and call it three separate developments.

Representing the planning commission, Assistant City Attorney Jane Sebens said the commission followed proper procedure when it permitted Heritage Hills to be split into three lots, each with seven or eight homes, all sharing a single access road and water system, and still call it three distinct developments.

Each will have a separate homeowners association, Sebens said.

The Assembly's decision will not be made public until both sides have had a chance to review their conclusion. Mayor Bruce Botelho expected the Assembly to reach a decision Monday night during executive session.

Both sides' arguments were made harder when the Assembly established there was no legal definition of "development" within the city code.

Spitzfadden argued that Heritage Hills was one development and therefore illegal under a city law limiting a cottage development to 12 homes. With one road, one sewer and water system, and one common sidewalk for all 22 homes, it's essentially one development, he said.

"The PC looked at it very carefully," Sebens said. "Each cluster is a cottage development."

During rebuttal, Sebens took a jab at Corrigan and Pusich's motive saying the husband and wife team from Douglas viewed Heritage Hills as competition to their unsold lots next door in the Back Loop area.

"Look how many times they mention unsold lots," she said.

For months Pusich and Corrigan have openly opposed the neighboring subdivision. Early on they said the cottage development would affect the lives of their customers who expected a more rural setting and paid upward of $500,000 for homes.

Bicknell describes Heritage Hills Homes as "craftsman quality" and expects them to sell for around $300,000.

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