Douglas Breeze In appeals size of proposed expansion

Owners say they can build a storage basement as well

Posted: Thursday, December 02, 2004

Breeze In's expansion project has had trouble breezing past its neighbors.

On Aug. 18, the Juneau Planning Commission approved Breeze In's proposal to build a new 5,000-square-foot convenience store at its current location near the Douglas Bridge, with detached gas pumps and two underground gas tanks.

Twenty days after the approval, nearby homeowners appealed the Planning Commission's decision to the Juneau Assembly. The appellants are Kim and Keith Busch and Mike and Marilyn Miller.

Pam Varni, who lives two houses from Breeze In across Douglas Highway, said she is concerned about traffic.

"A lot of cars stop in front of my house to wait for someone to turn into Breeze In's parking lot," said Varni, 53. "To put out a 24-hour gas operation in a residential neighborhood is not proper."

Owners of Breeze In also filed an appeal to the Assembly. They said the permit approved by the Planning Commission allows them to build a 5,000-square-foot storage basement, in addition to the 5,000-square-foot retail space.

But Community Development Director Dale Pernula disagrees. He said the city ordinance limits the maximum gross floor area of convenience stores in residential zones to 5,000 square feet and includes the storage space.

At its Tuesday meeting, the Planning Commission certified Breeze In's appeal to the Assembly. The city's staff didn't recommend the Planning Commission review the case because the commission's decision is likely to be appealed to the Assembly.

"It makes sense for the Assembly to consider this case as part of the more comprehensive appeal," according to a joint memorandum from Pernula and Deputy City Attorney Peggy Boggs.

The Assembly is scheduled to hear the case Jan. 15.

City Attorney John Hartle urges Assembly members not to talk to anyone involved in the case before the hearing.

"This is an appeal, not an ordinance," Hartle said. "Assembly members are acting as judges, not legislators. They should get their information from records."

Hartle said the Assembly can reverse, modify or affirm the Planning Commission's decision.

• I-Chun Che can be reached at

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