New guidelines set for Juneau historic district

City allows for modern interpretation of styles

Posted: Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Those developing or renovating buildings in Juneau's historic district now have a little more room for flexibility, as the Assembly adopted new guidelines and standards for Juneau's Downtown Historic District.

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Courtesy Photos
Courtesy Photos

Juneau Community Development Director Dale Pernula said prior design standards, which have been in place since 1983, focused on buildings in the Late Victorian style, such as the Koosher building and the Germania Dance Hall and Saloon, both on Franklin Street.

Now, the guidelines identify four different architectural styles. Instead of replicating one period identified in the old standards, the guidelines allow for a modern interpretation within "character-defining features of the district," such as storefronts with windows and canopies.

The four styles now identified are late Victorian, early Twentieth Century Commercial (like the Goldstein building at 130 Seward Street), Art Moderne (like the Baranof Hotel) and Art Deco, like the Alaska Electric Light & Power Co. building.

The guidelines apply only to buildings located within the Juneau Downtown Historic District and do not change the permitting procedure or require retroactive changes to any buildings.

The guidelines were in the works for several years, with Winter & Company, a consulting company based in Boulder, Colo., the Community Development Department, the Historic Resources Advisory Committee and the Downtown Business Association all involved.

At its Monday night meeting, the Assembly approved changes to its land use code, creating a single-room occupancy housing type.

Bob Banghart, a board member with the nonprofit Housing First, expressed pleasure with the change.

"It helps us have another tool in our efforts to put affordable housing in this community," he said. "We have a little more maneuverability within the system."

He said the organization already has "a couple" of grants it can use for that type of housing.

Pernula said the ordinance creates two types of single-room occupancy housing - one for a single occupancy dwelling with kitchens and bathrooms inside, and one for shared facilities.

The latter already are permitted as rooming houses or boarding houses, but without a specific designation in the zoning code, it's difficult for them to get public funding, he said.

The Assembly also approved a change to the code allowing accessory apartments to be detached from a garage and making those standards more flexible.

Pernula said some people were building garage buildings just to create an apartment.

Pet owners won't be seeing changes to the Juneau animal control ordinance's definition of "competent voice control" after all.

The Assembly voted unanimously Monday night to keep the definition the same.

The vote came after a group of concerned dog owners met with an Assembly sub-committee to hammer out the definition of "competent voice control" about two weeks ago.

Some were worried proposed changes could result in more restrictions and more fines.

Different versions of the proposed changes had listed various specific situations, such as dogs not jumping on people without invitation or barking aggressively at a person or domestic animal, as being under competent voice control.

The Assembly decision means pet owners will continue to be deemed in control of pets if they are with it, "monitor" its activities and can direct its movements and activities by voice commands.

Assembly member Jonathan Anderson, a member of the voice control committee, said all at the meeting said they were comfortable with keeping the language the same.

Grateful Dogs of Juneau members, many who attended that meeting, said they were happy with the decision.

Other changes to the code were clearly designating municipal wharves as on-leash areas and specifying fenced park sports fields with real turf as off-leash areas for dog exercise and training.

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