The Juneau Planning Commission unanimously approved a land-use permit for Office Depot in Lemon Creek on Tuesday, despite questions about a shortage of industrial land and possible implications for a second access road to the area.
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The commission also approved a land-use permit for Schuck's Auto Supply and heard an update on the traffic studies for the downtown parking garage proposal at Main Street and Egan Drive. Planners believe a roundabout at the intersection might benefit local businesses whose customers have trouble turning left off the street.
During the Office Depot discussion, residential neighbor Dylan Quigley wondered whether the development's closeness to his property meant any future plans for a second access road to the commercial businesses in Lemon Creek would leave his family's property subject to government seizure through eminent domain.
Quigley said the 80-foot right of way left little room for a road.
"How could you allow this to go through ... when you are going to have a serious issue getting this second corridor through?" said Quigley, whose family has owned property behind Home Depot and off the city's services grid for 40 years.
Community Development Director Dale Pernula said it was premature to hold up the Office Depot project when the road project is still not a certainty.
Commissioner Linda Snow said she was concerned that the city would be restricting the right of way near the Quigley's property, but added, "That's an issue that will work itself out."
Commissioners Dennis Watson and Frank Rue expressed concern that the project would further shrink the availability of industrial land in Lemon Creek.
"It certainly is true that Lemon Creek area, one of our best, flat, open industrial zones, has turned into a commercial area," said city planner Greg Chaney. Pernula said there are areas, such as behind the jail, that the planning department is considering for exclusive industrial use.
Planning Commission Chairman Dan Bruce said there have been industrial proposals for the area, but protests by residential neighbors resulted in cumbersome requirements for the developers that resulted in the projects falling through.
The Office Depot plan now contains the minimum amount of parking allowed, which will still require filling in a section of wetlands. That plan requires Army Corps of Engineers approval. The Planning Commission could approve less parking, but Office Depot has not requested less. Home Depot sold the property to Office Depot when it concluded it did not need the land for its own parking.
The Commission had reviewed the Office Depot plan in August, and requested a more detailed traffic study. That study, conducted in September, found traffic volumes were much lower than predicted for when after Home Depot was built.
It's not clear when Office Depot might open if it gets the necessary approvals. The store still needs to go through the building permit process.
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