The development of Spuhn Island can go forward if it meets conditions that include providing electricity, parking spaces and docks or floats, the Juneau Planning Commission decided Tuesday night.
In a special meeting, the commission voted unanimously to give Spuhn Island Development preliminary approval to subdivide the island into 38 recreational/residential lots and three large parcels.
The vote comes after weeks of public testimony by residents worried about traffic, parking and the environment in the Fritz Cove Road area. Residents fear inhabitants of the island will primarily use Fritz Cove to access the island.
The developers have 18 months to submit a final plan that meets the 14 conditions, but property owner Steve Allwine said after the meeting he plans to move as quickly as possible.
"From a planner's perspective, from our perspective, it's been very tough," Allwine said. "Now that we have a set of conditions, we can go forward."
Some planning commission members said they had some of the same parking and congestion concerns, but also acknowledged that the owners have the right to develop their private property.
"Nobody likes to see new development in their back yard," commissioner Jim Scholz said. "As commissioners, we try to minimize the impacts."
The conditions bring the commission closer to the goal of allowing the neighborhood "to live in harmony," commissioner Mark Pusich said.
Allwine said he and his wife, Karla, could have legally circumvented the public process by selling the lots in smaller groups, but wanted to be above-board for the sake of the neighborhood. They reside on Fritz Cove Road.
"I really think she's (Karla) tried to do it right," Allwine said. "She's done an admirable job. The process isn't easy."
Some commissioners took issue with the fact that inhabitants of Spuhn Island would pay less in property tax and receive more amenities than about seven or eight residents off of Fritz Cove Road. Those residents must walk or boat to their homes from Fritz Cove.
The commission decided to send a letter to the Juneau Assembly asking that those residents receive a property tax break.
Tara Sidor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.