Planners reject fuel tank farm

City assessor's opinion tips vote toward 'no'

Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2006

The Juneau Planning Commission unanimously rejected late Tuesday night a proposal for a new tank farm at Juneau International Airport.

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The farm was proposed by Petro Marine, a fuel company that had hoped to receive approval to store up to 210,000 gallons of jet, diesel, and gasoline fuel on airport land. The selected site bordered an office and residential neighborhood along Berners Avenue and had received considerable opposition from those who lived in the area.

"The Planning Commission granted Delta Western (the only other fuel company with tanks on airport land) a de facto monopoly on fuel distribution at the airport," said John Cooper, representative for Petro Marine.

Cooper said the property had been zoned industrial long before the neighborhood had existed and that neighbors should have been aware of possible development when they purchased their homes.

He also said that without better support from the officials, necessary community services that require commercial or industrial land, are doomed.

"I've made no secret about the fact that the city and borough has not protected its industrial and commercial (properties)," he said. "We are headed for a problem. (Tuesday) night was a good example that."

Several neighbors attended the Tuesday meeting, held at Centennial Hall. They raised concerns about aesthetics, traffic noise and fuel odor from the tank farm.

Planning Commission Clerk Marshal Kendziorek said the most compelling reason for the "no" vote, however, was testimony from the city's assessor, Jim Canary.

"It really came down to the opinion of the city assessor - that it would have a clear impact on property values in the residential neighborhood," he said.

Canary rarely weighs in on neighborhood issues, but said Tuesday night this was just a matter of "common sense."

Kendziorek acknowledged the same commission had approved an airport master plan that designated the spot as a good location for the tank farm, but said that ultimately, "plans like that are just made to be adjusted."

"We thought it was a well-designed project given the constraints of the site that they were given to choose from," he said. "We do feel that something can be worked out."

Petro Marine now has the option to appeal the decision.

Cooper said he does not know yet what steps the fuel company will take next.

• Brittany Retherford can be reached at brittany.retherford@juneauempire.com.



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