DATE: February 5, 2001
TO: Planning Commission
FROM: Greg Chaney, Planner
Community Development Department
FILE NO.: USE2001-00048 Conditional Use
PROPOSAL: Construction of new retail gasoline facility comprised of 43' x 92' fueling island canopy over 5 multi-product dispensers (10 vehicle fueling positions), 8' x 19.5' cashier’s kiosk and two underground gasoline storage tanks.
Applicant: Barghausen Consulting Engineers, Inc
Property Owner: Fred Meyer of Alaska, Inc.
Property Address: 8181 Glacier Highway
Legal Description: USS 1195 TR 1
Parcel Code Number: 5-B15-0-100-002-0
Site Size: 10.93 Acres
Zoning: General Commercial (GC)
Utilities: CBJ Water and Sewer
Access: Old Dairy Road, Glacier Highway
Existing Land Use: Fred Meyer and Juneau Electronics Parking Lot
Surrounding Land Use: North - Glacier Highway, D-15 (Vacant)
South - Egan Drive, Industrial (I), Rural Reserve (RR)
East - Old Dairy Road, D-5, Juneau Christian Center
West - Light Commercial (LC), Credit Union
The applicant requests a Conditional Use permit for the development of a new retail gasoline facility comprised of a 43' x 92' fueling island canopy over 5 multi-product dispensers (10 vehicle fueling positions), an 8' x 19.5' cashier’s kiosk and two underground gasoline storage tanks. This station will be located in the southeast corner of Fred Meyer’s existing parking lot (Attachments 1a, 1b, 2 & 3).
Fred Meyer opened its store on the site in 1983 and has been in continuous operation since that time. The store has undergone minor remodeling but the basic footprint has remained substantially the same. Juneau Electronics also occupies the northeast corner of the site. In May of 1992 a Conditional Use permit was granted for the Fred Meyer to utilize a portion of its parking lot for outdoor merchandising. At that time the parking lot was reconfigured to maintain the required number of parking spaces while allowing for some of the lot to be converted to merchandise display areas. Outdoor sales have not been significant, and store managers have decided to reduce the area dedicated to sales outside the building.
At the current time, the parking lot’s southeast corner is underutilized. For several years a container has been placed in this section of the lot for newspaper recycling (Attachment 4). RV’s occasionally parked overnight in this section of the lot in the past, however this practice is no longer allowed. If this portion of the lot did not host the newspaper recycling facility, vehicles would rarely visit the area.
Primary access to the lot is via a short segment of road, which runs north/south between Glacier Highway and Egan Expressway. This section of right-of-way has been referred to by several names including: Old Dairy Road, Glacier Highway, Yandukin Drive and Lemon Road. Prior to the construction of Egan Express, this right-of-way segment was originally where the beginning of Old Dairy Road branched off of Glacier Highway. Although it is currently isolated from the main body of Old Dairy Road, this section of right-of-way has never been renamed, therefore it will be referred to as Old Dairy Road in this staff report.
Project Site – A gas station facility will be located in the extreme southeast corner of the existing Fred Meyer parking lot. Due to its distance from the main store, the region is usually vacant. Egan Expressway borders the lot’s southern boundary. No direct access to Egan Express is currently available from the parking lot. Along the lot’s east side is the parking lot’s main entrance which is accessed from Old Dairy Road. Grass lined ditches, also referred to as "bio-swales", separate the lot from these constructed roads. North of the lot is Glacier Highway. This section of road is lightly traveled when compared to Old Dairy Road and Egan Expressway. Two entrances are provided to the Fred Meyer site along Old Glacier Highway but these access points are rarely utilized. If a significant increase in customer volume is experienced in the future, traffic flow could be redirected to utilize these access points to reduce congestion at the Old Dairy Road entrance. Along the east property line is a separate lot which is currently occupied by Alaska USA Federal Credit Union.
Project Design – The applicant proposes to construct a 24-hour retail gas station on the southeast corner of the Fred Meyer parking lot. The proposed facility will include a canopy over five multi-product dispensers for a total of ten vehicle fueling stations and a cashier’s kiosk. The 43 x 92 foot canopy will include Fred Meyer’s colors and signage (Attachment 3). Proposed signs will be reviewed under a separate sign permitting procedure. Gasoline and diesel fuel dispensers will offer a "pay at the pump" option. The kiosk will be staffed by an attendant during the hours of 7 am to 11 pm. At night between 11pm and 7am, the fuel facility will be fully automated with the dispensers activated by customers using automated credit or debit cards.
Traffic – Fuel stations associated with a primary retail store, attract traffic differently than "stand alone" facilities. The applicant has provided a trip generation study conducted by Group MacKenzie Traffic Engineers for a similar gas station located within a retail center along a major commuter route (Attachment 5). The survey concluded that the fuel station did not generate additional peak hour trips along adjacent roads. Gas station customers were already driving by and decided to purchase gasoline and did not come to the area for the sole purpose of buying fuel. Some customers where already going to the associated major retail store and the rest were people who were already driving by and decided to stop in. Therefore, no additional traffic is anticipated to be attracted to adjacent roads as a result of the facility’s construction. On the other hand, traffic already travelling on these roads will diverted and turn into the main entrance. Several CBJ staff members and a member of the public expressed concern about the safety of the existing intersection and wondered if it could handle the increased traffic load (Attachments 18, 19, 20 & 21). Due to concerns about the possibility of over taxing the entrance’s capacity, staff requested a traffic study be conducted to specifically address this issue.
R&M Engineering conducted traffic counts at Fred Meyer’s main entrance on a Tuesday and Wednesday, January 8th and 9th , 2002. Analysis of these turning movement counts concluded that the existing intersection could handle the increased volume anticipated from the addition of a gas station. Additionally, the traffic count was increased by 25% to adjust for seasonal highs. The report concluded that the existing intersection could handle anticipated increased seasonal traffic without modification (Attachment 6).
Based on staff’s experience (having conducted multiple independent site visits) and an interview with Drew Norman, Acting Store Manager, it was determined that the largest customer volume often occurs on weekends. In order to measure weekend traffic volume, CDD staff visited the site and counted turning movements between 2:30 and 3:30 on Saturday, January 12, 2002 (Attachment 7). Traffic volumes measured during this period were generally similar to the highest volume measured during R & M’s weekday observations. The only exception was the number of left turn movements exiting the site. Left turns exiting the site to the north were measured at 103 on Saturday, while during the week 65 left turns exiting the site was the highest number measured in one hour. This difference reflects the change in traffic flow between weekday and weekend drivers. It is likely that on weekends more shopping trips to the store originate from Lemon Creek, Downtown and Douglas while during the week, a larger percentage of trips are generated by people driving home from work to the Mendenhall Valley.
For an independent review of these results both the applicant’s traffic study and staff’s observations were forwarded to Rick Purves, Alaska Department of Transportation, Senior Traffic and Safety Engineer. He reviewed the materials, including CDD staff’s traffic measurements, and concluded that the existing entrance was sufficient to handle the anticipated increased traffic load without modification (Attachment 8).
Two bus stops are present near the site’s main entrance (Attachments 9 & 10). No designated pedestrian pathway is available for pedestrians leaving the bus stops to access the store. Although the entrance is sufficient to handle the anticipated additional vehicles, currently pedestrians are required to walk either in the street or on dirt/muddy paths in landscaped areas (Attachments 11 & 12). The current pedestrian situation is substandard and by adding traffic, pedestrian/vehicle conflicts are anticipated to increase. In order to reduce these conflicts, staff has recommended a condition that prior to operation of the fuel station facility, an improved pedestrian pathway must be constructed from the bus stops to the store.
Lighting – The proposal to have a canopy over the fuel pumps has the potential to impact surrounding properties and motorists by shedding glare beyond the property lines. It is critical that lighting be shielded and directed away from the surrounding properties and rights-of-way. Therefore, staff has included a recommended condition that a lighting plan, which meets these objectives, be submitted prior to issuance of a building permit.
Parking and Circulation – Forty four parking spaces will be removed from the existing parking lot in order to accommodate the facility. Parking space reduction will bring the total parking lot capacity for the existing store below the minimum of 596 parking spaces required for the Fred Meyer store established under CU-13-92, Juneau Electronics’ parking requirement plus one new space required for the fuel station. Based on several years of operational experience at this location, the applicant does not anticipate that the loss of parking capacity will cause a parking short fall on the site. Therefore, the applicant has applied for parking variance VAR2001-00033 concurrently with this Conditional Use application.
Internal parking lot circulation has caused concern since the lot is not currently laid out to accommodate traffic flow to the proposed facility. In order to enhance exiting from the fuel station, a new exit only lane has been proposed to feed into the main exit from the parking lot to Old Dairy Road (See Attachment 13).
After reviewing the proposed parking lot layout, staff has concluded that traffic flow entering the gas station appears problematic. As shown on Attachment 13, staff recommends that traffic be restricted near the northwest entrance to the gas station. By placing a barrier as shown, traffic will tend to flow through the facility in an orderly manner, reducing the potential for vehicle conflicts. Since this is a public safety consideration, staff is recommending a condition which would require the installation of this traffic barrier prior to issuance of a Certificate Of Occupancy for the facility.
Noise – The facility is located in an active commercial area. Noise from the fuel station is likely to be restricted to vehicles traversing the site. This type of noise is already common in the area and is not likely to cause off site conflicts.
Public Health or Safety – Several public safety concerns were considered in relation to this proposal. Several members of the public express concern that the existing main entrance on the lot’s east side was near maximum capacity. In order to evaluate the impact of additional traffic on the entrance, a traffic analysis was requested.
As mentioned above, the applicant retained R&M Engineering to study existing and potential traffic impacts (Attachment 6). Existing traffic volume was measured on January 8, 2002 from 11:45 am to 7:00 pm and on January 9, 2002 from 7:00 am to 11:30 am. The anticipated traffic volume for the proposed fuel facility was estimated using the ITE Trip Generation Report. Barghausen Consulting Engineers furnished the data to R&M Engineering. The ITE data indicates the fuel stop may generate 1,686 daily trips and 146 new pm peak trips. Barghausen Consulting Engineers recommended using an increase of 25% of the ITE traffic volume in anticipation that the remainder of the fuel station’s customers would already be going to Fred Meyer. A seasonal factor increase of 25% was used to adjust the turning movement data. This was considered a relatively high factor, but the adjustment did not result in a change to the Level of Service. The report concluded that the existing entrance could handle the anticipated traffic increase without compromising public safety.
Staff discussed the timing of peak customer volume with Acting Store Director, Drew Norman. His observations concluded that peak customer demand was experienced on Saturday and Sunday afternoons roughly between 1 and 4pm. Staff visited the site on Saturday, January 12 2002 and conducted turning movement counts from 2:30 to 3:30pm (Attachment 7). Traffic volumes were higher than measured during the weekdays sampled by R&M. The most extreme difference was for vehicles exiting the site heading north. R&M observed a maximum of 65 vehicles per hour while CDD staff observed 103 vehicles executing the same movement in one hour.
As mentioned above, both the R&M traffic study and CDD staff’s observations were submitted to the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) for independent review. Rick Purves, Alaska Department of Transportation, Senior Traffic and Safety Engineer determined that even with the anticipated increase in traffic volume, the intersection could handle the predicted traffic demand without modification.
As already noted, certain aspects of the project will have public safety implications. Currently there are two bus stops at the intersection. No improved path leads from the bus stops to the store (Attachment 9 and 10). This forces many pedestrians to walk in the road, causing potential pedestrian/vehicular conflicts (Attachment 11). Alternatively pedestrians may walk in the adjacent landscaping strip but due to muddy conditions this is often not desirable (Attachment 12). Currently the situation is substandard but adding more vehicular traffic to the intersection will make the situation worse. In order to mitigate this impact, the applicant has proposed to add a four-foot wide pedestrian path from the bus stop to the store as shown on Attachment 1b. In order to ensure that this path is constructed, staff is recommending a condition that construction of the pedestrian path be complete prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy for the new fuel station.
Property Value or Neighborhood Harmony – This site is surrounded on three sides by right-of-way and the fourth side has a commercial use. Staff is not aware of any evidence that the proposed gas station would negatively impact adjacent properties or act out of harmony with the surrounding neighborhood.
Conformity With Adopted Plans – The Comprehensive Plan has designated this location as "General Commercial". Locating a fuel station in this region is consistent with the Comprehensive Plan and with current zoning (with approval of a Conditional Use permit).
Juneau Coastal Management Program – Some of the runoff from the existing parking lot drains toward Jordan Creek which is a listed anadromous stream. In order to ensure that this facility is does not introduce petroleum contaminates into the creek, the applicant has submitted a detailed drainage plan for the proposed gas station site (Attachment 14). All run-off from under the canopy (including all fuel pump locations) will be collected in a drain which will run through an oil/water separator (Attachment 15). Once in the ditch, run-off will drain eastward, in the existing ditch system, away from Jordan Creek.
The applicant has proposed that the oil/water separator be maintained monthly from November to April and once in late summer (Attachment 16). Due to Juneau’s high level of precipitation in the summer, staff is recommending a condition that maintenance be conducted once a month, year round, or at any time when rainfall exceeds one inch in 24 hours.
Fill pipes for the main fuel tanks are not located in the area which drains to the oil/water separator. Although automatic shut-off devices are required for these systems, residual oil often drains from fill nozzles after filling the main tanks. "Spill Buckets" are required to catch this incidental spillage however if these buckets fill with water or oil, they are no longer effective. Therefore, staff is recommending a condition that the "spill buckets" on the main tank fill pipes be cleaned at least once a month.
In the worst case scenario of a large spill from the site, run off will flow to the adjacent ditch. Outlets from this ditch are only available through culverts. These culverts can be blocked with sandbags to allow oil recovery crews to collect spilled oil from this containment area.
The proposed gas station application was reviewed for compliance with CBJ§49.70.900, the Juneau Coastal Management Program (JCMP). The analysis revealed that the following provision of the JCMP applies: CBJ§49.70.950 (C)(7)
Rivers, streams and lakes shall be managed so as to protect natural vegetation, water quality, important fish or wildlife habitat and natural waterflow.
The combination of the above prevention measures should be sufficient to protect adjacent wetlands and Jordan Creek from potential petroleum contamination.
CBJ '49.15.330 (e)(1), Review of Director's Determinations, states that the Planning Commission shall review the director's report to consider:
1. Whether the application is complete; and,
2. Whether the proposed use is appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses;
3. Whether the development as proposed will comply with the other requirements of this chapter.
The commission shall adopt the director's determination on the three items above unless it finds, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the director's determination was in error, and states its reasoning for each finding with particularity.
CBJ '49.15.330 (f), Commission Determinations, states that even if the commission adopts the director's determination, it may nonetheless deny or condition the permit if it concludes, based upon its own independent review of the information submitted at the public hearing, that the development will more probably than not:
1. Materially endanger the public health or safety;
2. Substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area; or,
3. Not be in general conformity with the comprehensive plan, thoroughfare plan, or other officially adopted plans.
Per CBJ '49.15.300 (e)(1)(A thru C), Review of Director's Determinations, the director makes the following findings on the proposed development:
1. Is the application for the requested conditional use permit complete?
Yes. We find the application contains the information necessary to conduct full review of the proposed operations. The application submittal by the applicant, including the appropriate fees, substantially conforms to the requirements of CBJ Chapter 49.15.
2. Is the proposed use appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses?
Yes. The requested permit is appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses. The permit is listed at CBJ §49.25.300, Section 9.200 for the Light Commercial (LC) zoning district.
3. Will the proposed development comply with the other requirements of this chapter?
Yes. The proposed development complies with the other requirements of this chapter. An advertising notice was provided in the Juneau Empire under "Your Municipality", which ran on Friday, February 1, 2002. A public notice sign was posted on site at least 14 days prior to the meeting.
As required by CBJ§49.15.330(d)(4), relevant portions of this application were mailed to interested agencies (Attachment 17).
4. Will the proposed development materially endanger the public health or safety?
No. Based on the preceding staff analysis, this proposal will not endanger public health or safety as long as the conditions proposed are met.
5. Will the proposed development substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area?
No. Based on the preceding staff analysis, no evidence was found to indicate that the proposed development will substantially decrease the value of, or be out of harmony with, property in the neighboring area.
6. Will the proposed development be in general conformity with the land use plan, thoroughfare plan, or other officially adopted plans?
Yes. Because of the Comprehensive Plan and subsequent zoning designations for this parcel, it is found that the proposed development complies with the other requirements of this chapter and is in conformance with the Comprehensive Plan.
7. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?
Yes. Based on the preceding analysis and the proposed conditions of approval dealing with water quality, we find that the proposed development will comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program.
It is recommended that the Planning Commission adopt the director's analysis and findings and grant the requested conditional use permit. The permit would allow the development of a gasoline facility comprised of 43' x 92' fueling island canopy over 5 multi-product dispensers (10 vehicle fueling positions), 8' x 19.5' cashier’s kiosk and two underground gasoline storage tanks The approval is subject to the following conditions:
Prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy (or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy) for the fuel station facility, an improved pedestrian pathway at least 4 feet wide must be constructed from the bus stop to the Fred Meyer storefront. Care shall be taken to preserve existing plantings as much as possible during design and construction.
5. Prior to issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy (or Temporary Certificate of Occupancy) for the fuel station facility, directional signage must be placed in the parking lot, shown on Attachment 2.