Panel OKs preliminary plans for subdivision

Streams running through proposed site near Glacier Gardens raised some concerns among city staff

Posted: Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Juneau's planning commissioners agreed on at least one thing Tuesday night with developers of a proposed 25-home subdivision upstream from the Mendenhall Wetlands.

Juneau needs housing, they said.

By the end of the Planning Commission's meeting, commissioners agreed with some of the developers' concerns about restrictions they had been facing, approving preliminary plans for the 7.61-acre Vista Del Sol subdivision 7-0.

Property owner Marciano Duran, of Duran Construction Company, said after the meeting that he hopes people will be able to begin moving in to the new subdivision by the end of 2004.

The subdivision site, at 7520 Glacier Highway, is adjacent to Glacier Gardens and has two streams running through it. Both aspects raised concerns among staff of the Community Development Department that recommended conditional approval of the plans.

Property owner Josette Duran told commissioners a condition requiring a continuous berm, topped by trees, separating the subdivision from Glacier Gardens was unreasonable. It had been proposed to keep light from next door from disturbing their property.

The requirement would only increase the expense of the project, which she said would "provide much needed housing in Juneau. This is a very good project, and it really deserves your support."

Commissioner Peggy Ann McConnochie said she considered the matter a marketing concern that the city shouldn't get involved with.

Commissioner Dan Bruce agreed that the condition was "totally inappropriate." He said the commission has a vested interest in getting lots available to the public as economically as possible."

"The last thing we need to do is make lots more expensive in this community," Commissioner Jim Scholz added.

Commissioners weren't as quick to come to a consensus on a condition involving the streams. City staff had recommended a condition of a 25-foot setback from the streams. The Durans said that would limit how they could develop the lots.

They said the streams were not inhabited with fish and asked if they could develop closer to them.

Commissioner Marshal Kendziorek said the commission also had a vested interest in providing water quality to the Mendenhall Wetlands.

In the end, commissioners approved the plans with a 15-foot buffer on all but four lots, which wouldn't be allowed to develop within 10 feet of the streams.

• Tony Carroll can be reached at

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