City officials might be creating a plan for waterfront development with their right hand while letting development continue unchecked with their left, say members of the Juneau Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee.
The committee this week presented the Juneau Assembly with a request for a moratorium on the permitting and developing of all intertidal, subtidal and near-shore projects between the Douglas Bridge and the little rock dump until the Juneau Waterfront Development Plan has been completed.
The city hired Bermello, Ajamil & Partners, a Florida-based consulting company, to create a long-range waterfront development plan for the waterfront area between the bridge and the smaller of the two rock dumps along Thane Road south of downtown. If adopted by the Juneau Assembly, the plan will guide the development of Juneau's waterfront for the next 20 years.
A rough draft of the plan is expected by early September, and the Assembly hopes to have adopted the plan by the end of the year, said Assembly member Jeannie Johnson.
Members of the Juneau Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee worry that "the waterfront integrity is being compromised without the (waterfront development) plan being adopted," said Alex Lukshin, chairman of the committee. The committee requested the Assembly pass an ordinance to officially establish the moratorium.
"We're not saying permanent, we just said while the plan is being considered, nothing goes on on the waterfront," said Lukshin.
Although no developers are in the process of acquiring permits for projects on the waterfront, nothing would prevent the city from issuing permits for minor waterfront projects while the development plan is being drafted, said Dale Pernula, director of the city's Community Development Department.
"I can understand their concerns," he said. But any major projects, such as a cruise ship dock at Gold Creek, would require a conditional use permit - a process that allows for considerable public input.
The Jacobsen Dock, which will accommodate ships up to 1,000 feet long near the larger rock dump closer to downtown, already has been granted a conditional use permit by the city.
Richard Knapp, chairman of the Juneau Docks and Harbors Board and of the Juneau Port Development Committee, said the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee's request is unnecessary.
"I don't think anything of any significance at all is going to happen until that waterfront plan is finished anyway," Knapp said. "... I don't think you can look forward to all of a sudden having cranes and dredges being out there within the next couple of weeks."
Assembly member Dale Anderson, also a member of the Port Development Committee, said he would oppose an ordinance to establish the moratorium.
"We are going on the track of putting together this plan and I don't want to micromanage the Planning Commission," he said.
Assembly member Johnson also doubts the need for such an ordinance, but said she would question Pernula at the Port Development Committee meeting at 3 p.m. today for possible waterfront projects that may begin before the waterfront plan is completed.
"At this particular point in time I want to be reassured," Johnson said. "I don't know how long it would take for someone walking into the door with a project to have it approved."
Christine Schmid can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.