Planners see possibilities in cottage housing

Small, detached homes would have a density nearly that of condos

Posted: Wednesday, July 27, 2005

City planning commissioners said Tuesday that one attempt to bring more affordable housing to Juneau won't be popular among neighbors, but they commended city staff on getting off to a good start on the details.

The Juneau Planning Commission was generally positive about the work being done on a proposed amendment to city zoning rules to allow "cottage housing" - small detached single-family homes that would have a density more comparable to condominiums.

"I like this," Marshal Kendziorek said, as several other commissioners agreed with him. "It's really good stuff."

But Commissioner Peggy Ann McConnochie said a lot of people won't accept cottage housing coming to their neighborhoods. "They object to increasing the density and the quote-unquote type of people who would live in the units."

Neighborhood meetings have been successful in helping developments gain acceptability in neighborhoods, Community Development Director Dale Pernula said.

"I like the idea of neighborhood meetings a lot," Commission Chairman Mike Bavard said.

The goal of cottage housing is to provide more affordable housing in the community, Pernula pointed out. These are supposed to be small single-family homes.

In many cases, the density allowed - up to 12 units per acre in areas that allow for the highest density - wouldn't be much different from what is normally allowed in single-family subdivisions, because they already allow auxiliary buildings, he said.

The plan being worked on by community development staff also aims for aesthetically pleasing developments. Pernula said a point system attached to aspects of design is at the heart of the proposal being developed.

In the proposal presented to planning commissioners Tuesday, a unit in a cottage-housing development would have to achieve 24 design points, with points being awarded for such things as different types of roof work, detailing, exterior stone work and landscaping.

Parking was one aspect that raised questions among commissioners. Nancy Waterman said that with the climate in Alaska, people should be able to build an attached covered car port if they wanted one.

They wouldn't be possible in all units, Pernula said, looking at one example.

"There's also an issue of affordability," McConnochie said.

Commissioner Dan Bruce said that group carports, such as those found in condominium complexes, would be a way to keep projects affordable.

Architectural and design requirements can be difficult to legislate, building Charles Carlson told commissioners. "I applaud the city for trying to do this. It's a tough nut to crack."

Pernula said staff would come back to the commission with another look at their work on the cottage-housing proposal soon.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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