My Turn: Don't create second-class neighborhoods

Posted: Friday, December 13, 2002

I feel compelled to further explain the situation between the Duran Construction processing operation located on Alaway and the property owners of the Eagles Edge subdivision, as well as the homeowners of Creek Side Park. Mr. Duran is quoted in a note held by CBJ as saying that he only operated the topsoil screener two weeks out of the year. This is not a true statement. When the ground thawed this year his crew started up the noisy operation and they were relentless in their efforts to produce screened topsoil until the city shut them down in July. When they weren't processing topsoil they were dumping truckload after truckload of dirt, rocks and manure onto the site, or using heavy machinery to lift 800-pound-plus rocks 20 feet into the air and dropping them onto other rocks.

This took place less than 40 yards from some residents' bedroom windows. The hours of operation ranged typically from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. with no breaks on weekends, or holidays. Sometimes starting up earlier and sometimes operating later. The nicer the weather the harder his crew worked and all the while making a hell of a lot of noise. They continued to operate until Mr. Duran was finally cited by J.P.D. for disturbing the peace sometime in late August. The city attorney decided to drop the charges for some reason. Mr. Duran was also quoted as saying he's been in operation on the site since 1989, however, I have three neighbors willing to sign affidavits that the subject parcel was a trashy vacant lot with very little activity until 1997. Duran said he only received one complaint. People complained, but no one listened. This includes the city and J.P.D. This year we organized and started a mass effort to question the zoning authorities. We also filed numerous complaints with the Juneau Police Department. It turns out he had never even applied for a permit. A permit for storage has been required on the subject parcel since 1975. It's never been zoned for processing, so I fail to see how they think they could be grandfathered in.

The bottom line is we want the same considerations as any other subdivision in the City and Borough of Juneau. I do not believe there are second-class subdivisions in this city, or are there? Are we supposed to just put up with this because we live in Lemon Creek? I know this is a strong statement, but this is how frustrated we've become. I'm pretty sure if this type of activity was going on in Douglas or the Valley he'd be digging deep into his pockets to pay fines. He hasn't been fined in this case. We are very concerned that this issue is now in the hands of lawyers. The planning commission needs to be very careful with this appeal and not let it turn into some litigation fiasco. The right thing for Mr. Duran to do is find somewhere else to conduct his business. And remember to apply for a permit. No other alternative will be acceptable to the people of this subdivision, or the folks living in Creek Side Park.

Shawn Wille is acting president of the Eagles Edge Home Owners Association.

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