Douglas Island residents appeal Breeze In store expansion

Posted: Thursday, October 07, 2004

Some Douglas Island residents are trying to block the expansion of the Breeze In convenience store, saying it will disrupt the neighborhood's harmony.

West Juneau residents Mike and Marilyn Miller and Kim and Keith Busch filed a Sept. 15 appeal of the Juneau Planning Commission's decision to allow the store to expand to 5,000 square feet.

"We were alarmed at what was being planned, in size and scope, for a residential area," Mike Miller said Wednesday. "That is not a neighborhood convenience store they're planning - it's a major commercial operation."

Breeze In owner Al Ahlgren plans to raze the current structure and build a new store to include a 1,500-square-foot liquor store, gasoline pumps, an automated teller machine, drive-through window a public bus stop and a larger parking lot.

"People think it'll detract from the property values, but I think a new facility will improve the neighborhood," Ahlgren said Wednesday.

The Planning Commission approved the project Aug. 24. Despite the appeal, Ahlgren said he plans to move forward because the public already has addressed the issues.

The Millers and Busches, who live just south of the store, say the bigger store will create more traffic near an intersection already criticized for its congestion, they said. Ahlgren argues the new store will generate more sales but not more customers. Residents will not make a special trip to the store, he said.

Ahlgren needs to build a larger store with more products and services to help pay for the cost of the project, which will run at least $1.5 million, he said.

Residents also oppose gasoline pumps being installed so close to Gastineau Channel, saying underground storage tanks leak over time. Ahlgren has said the gasoline facility will be fully contained.

The expansion will also eliminate the beach access road next to the store, making it difficult for the Busches to haul equipment to their place, said Kim Busch, stationed in England with her husband, who works for the federal government. The Busches, who plan to return to Juneau in two years, are being represented by Patricia O'Brien.

Ahlgren said he has always owned the beach access road and has been letting residents use it. The Busches can use a landing craft if they want to repair their retaining wall and other property on the beach, he said.

A hearing date for the appeal has not been set, City Clerk Laurie Sica said.

• Tara Sidor can be reached at tara.sidor@juneauempire.com.



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