A Mendenhall Valley resident whose neighbors came to support him swayed planning commissioners to approve his variance request for a boat garage.
Juneau Planning Commission Chairman Dan Bruce, the swing vote in favor, said he was impressed to see Keith Carlson's neighbors at the meeting on such a fine night.
"I think it speaks volumes there," he said. "But it's a very close call. I didn't think it was close when I came in here."
Carlson requested a variance to build a 900-square-foot boat garage and workshop on the corner of 9417 Long Run Drive with a five-foot setback instead of the 20-foot setback code requires.
City Planner Eric Feldt recommended denying the variance, and wrote that it didn't meet the requirements for a variance.
There was room on the lot to build the structure within the setback, but Carlson wanted to reserve the open field in the middle of the property as a play area.
Eight of Carlson's neighbors came to the meeting to support him. Several said their kids had played for years in the field. Another neighbor testified that putting the shed in the proposed corner of the property would block her view less.
"My kids just spent an hour at the Carlsons,' running back and forth," said Stephanie Allison, who lives across the street.
Commissioners Frank Rue, Dan Miller, Linda Snow and Michael Satre joined Bruce in approving the variance. Commissioners Nancy Waterman, Maria Gladziszewski and Dennis Watson voted against it.
In Gladziszewski's view, the strict requirements for variances hadn't been met.
"It sounds like a terrific neighborhood, and it sounds like a terrific play area," said Gladziszewski. "But we're a commission of technicality."