DATE:             January 11, 2002

TO:                 Planning Commission

FROM:         Teri Camery, Planner
                      Community Development Department

FILE NO.:   USE2001-00049 Conditional Use

PROPOSAL: A Conditional Use permit for a 40,250 square foot geoduck and littleneck clam farm on state-owned tidelands in North Bridget Cove across from Mab Island.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant:                         Thomas Manning 

Property Owner:              State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources

Property Address:           North Bridget Cove, Mile 38 Glacier Highway

Legal Description:           Township 37 South, Range 63 East, Copper River Meridian Sections 25 and 26

Parcel Code Number:    3-B45-0-100-001-0 (this is the park parcel; the tidelands do not have a parcel number)

Site Size:                        40,250 square feet

Zoning:                          RR - Rural Reserve

Utilities:                        None

Access:                        Bridget Cove

Existing Land Use:      vacant tidelands

Surrounding Land Use: North - CBJ Bridget Cove Natural Area Park
                                    South - Bridget Cove/Lynn Canal/Sunshine Cove
                                    East - Mab Island
                                    West - CBJ Bridget Cove Natural Area Park

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant requests a Conditional Use permit for the development of an aquatic farm in Bridget Cove, east of Mab Island, approximately 38 miles northwest of Juneau on state-owned tidelands. The applicant proposes to culture geoduck and littleneck clams, intertidally, within an area measuring 110 feet by 400 feet with a 50’ x 75’ gap in the middle around eelgrass (Attachments E and F). Access to the site is by boat. No hardening area or floating facilities are required or requested.

The proposal consists of planting geoduck spat in 4 inch diameter by 10 inch PVC tubes below the 0.0 to the minus 3.5 foot tide levels. The tubes will be planted in rows with one tube per square foot. Tubes will be inserted into the substrate with about 3 inches exposed above the substrate. This 3 inch gap will hold seawater at low tide to offer protection from freezing temperatures during the winter minus tides. The tubes are covered at the top with a plastic mesh, which allows food to circulate but keeps predators out. Littleneck clams will be seeded between the geoduck tubes. Littleneck clam farming will occur only in the top 50 feet of the farm in the higher tidal zone where they occur naturally (Attachments B and C, Project Narratives).

The original farm site has been moved 100 feet south beyond the Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) tide line in response to DNR concerns about public access to the upland area and public concerns regarding sport fishing/casting off of the rocky point at the north end of the beach (Attachments B, D, E, and F). This adjustment also allows a commercial fishing boat to anchor behind the point in the event of strong northerly winds. The farm site is located entirely between the 0 foot and –3.5 foot tide line (Attachments B and C).

The applicant will divide the farmsite into 100-foot sections and plant and harvest in quarters. The first quarter, farthest south, will be planted this summer depending on the time of the herring spawn (see ADFG stipulations in the JCMP review). Harvesting will be done by water wands or suction tubes for the geoduck clams and handrakes for the littleneck clams (Attachments B and C).

Harvest times are dependent on minus tides of 0.0 to –3.5, which occur 6-8 times per year for a period of two days to a week each time. Harvest is also dependent on PSP test results. Littleneck clams are ready for harvest after two years while geoduck require four years. Harvesting requires the work of three or four people working approximately 4 hours. The applicant must access the site by boat unless a commercial use permit is obtained from the CBJ Parks and Recreation Department to use the CBJ Bridget Cove beach access trail. A permit has not been granted at this time.


BACKGROUND

The project requires a mariculture permit from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, a tidelands lease from the State Department of Natural Resources, a Corps of Engineers Permit, and an approved Alaska Coastal Management Program consistency review from the State Division of Governmental Coordination. Corps permits have been issued.

CBJ and DGC have shared public and agency comments with each other during this review process, as some elements of agency and public notification overlap and the State’s consistency review process has been conducted concurrently with the conditional use review. In the past, consistency reviews have been completed before projects come before the Planning Commission. However the Juneau Coastal Management Plan states that projects requiring both consistency review and Planning Commission review must complete the city’s review process first, though this rule has not been followed for many years. To bring the clam farm proposal and subsequent projects into compliance with this rule, state consistency review dates must be adjusted to meet the conditional use review schedule, and a final consistency review will not be issued until after a decision has been made on the conditional use permit. Staff’s JCMP analysis and relevant conditions will serve as CBJ’s official consistency review comments to DGC. Unless the CU process is delayed, a final consistency determination from the state will be issued in late January, 2002. The state’s public notice period began on July 25, 2001.

The State Department of Natural Resources must approve the tidelands lease. DNR issued a preliminary decision in favor of the project with stipulations on November 21, 2001 (Attachment J). DNR’s public comment period on the lease was November 26-December 26, 2001 (Attachment I). DNR’s final decision will be issued on January 29, 2002 if no significant changes are required. The Bridget Cove clam farm is one of thirteen aquaculture applications in Southeast Alaska being reviewed by DNR (Attachment I).

The applicant is considering developing an upland caretaker facility and storage shed in the future if the project is successful. This facility, located on CBJ parkland, would serve as a public use cabin when not in use for harvesting purposes. Depending on the final design and purpose of the cabin and storage shed, this proposal may require an additional Conditional Use permit as well as approval from the Parks and Recreation Department. The cabin is not necessary for the project and is not under review in this application.

The CBJ Parks and Recreation Department, as the adjacent upland property owner, has conducted a separate review of the project in two monthly meetings of the Parks and Recreation Advisory Committee (see minutes and meeting announcement, Attachments L, M, N). At the August 2001 meeting, the PRAC recommended that the Director "proceed with negotiations and to develop an access link to include what would not only be in the best interest of the park but also identify options for a plan that works for everyone." (Attachment L, page two). At the December meeting, the PRAC listened to additional comments from the public regarding the project and specifically solicited information regarding the suitability of a joint use cabin in the area. Eight people testified on the proposal; seven were opposed to it; one was not opposed to the project but not in favor of a cabin (Attachment N). PRAC recommendations are not binding because the committee has an advisory role only. The Parks Director has not made a decision and the applicant does not have dedicated access through the park at this time. Because the Parks Department’s existing commercial use regulations currently cover only tour businesses, new regulations for general commercial use would have to be developed, reviewed by the public, and approved by the Assembly before access could be granted for this project.

The proposal requires a Conditional Use permit according to the CBJ Code Table of Permissible Uses, §49.25.300, Section 14.100 Aquaculture, for the Rural Reserve zone. In accordance with CBJ Code §49.15.330(d)(4), proposal materials were distributed to state and federal agencies, including DEC, ADFG, NMFS, DNR, USCOE, and Alaska State Parks for a 15 day agency review period which concluded on December 28, 2001. Comments were received from ADF&G and NMFS (see Attachments G and H).


ANALYSIS

Project Site

The 400’ x 110’ project site is located in North Bridget Cove across from the mid-point of Mab Island and adjacent to CBJ Bridget Cove Natural Area Park. A 50’ x 75’ section has been excluded due to eelgrass. The site is in a small cove behind a northern rocky point which protects the area from northerly winds (see Attachments D, E, F). The project will be located between the 0.0 and –3.5 tidelines. Tidal flush approaches three knots on the ebb tide and 2.5 on the flood (Attachment C). The Cove is surrounded by CBJ Natural Area Park, and Mab Island (Attachment E, Area Map). Two public trails lead to the Cove (Attachment O). To the north of Bridget Cove is Point Bridget State Park. Sunshine Cove, part of the CBJ Natural Area Park, is the next cove to the south.

One catalogued anadromous stream, number 115-10-10230 as identified in the Juneau Comprehensive Plan Appendix B, is at the south end of Bridget Cove, three quarters of a mile from the site. Another stream, approximately 3 to 4 feet wide with a gentle gradient, empties into the cove adjacent to the farm site. This is not a catalogued stream but may host small populations of salmonids (Attachment G, ADFG comments).

The area is used for camping, hiking, picnicking, beachcombing, sportfishing, and kayaking (Attachment K). Commercial fishermen occasionally use the area as a protected anchorage (public comments, Attachments 9-14). Recreational clamming is conducted south of site. No clams have been found within the project area (Attachment G). Compatibility of the project with these uses will be evaluated under the neighborhood harmony section of this staff report.

Traffic, Parking and Circulation

Unless the applicant receives a commercial use permit from the CBJ Parks and Recreation Department, access to the site will be by boat only. At peak harvesting times the project will require four employees who will harvest approximately once a month through the summer and three to four times through the winter. Additional visits will be made for monitoring. No parking will be required.

Noise

Happy clams will make squirting sounds at low tides.

Public Health and Safety

The project will be visible only at the zero tide level or below, and will be marked at the corner by a 1’ x 2’ sign according to ADF&G’s permit requirements (Attachment G, page 6). Staff is unaware of any project components that a public beach-comber could become entangled in. The project has been moved farther south of the rocky point used for sportfishing and casting to avoid entanglement (Attachments D, E, F). Some members of the commercial fishing fleet believe that this project could prohibit them from using a protected anchorage in the area in the event of strong northerly winds (public comments, Attachments 9-14). The applicant has adjusted his project site to allow adequate space behind the point to accommodate this use (Attachments D, E, F). Because the site is located in a shallow area, between the 0.0 and –3.5 tide levels, damage to boats or from boats is unlikely. Additional analysis of this issue follows below under Neighborhood Harmony.

Neighborhood Harmony

The project site is adjacent to the CBJ Bridget Cove Natural Area Park, which is used for camping, hiking, picnicking, beachcombing, picnicking, sportfishing, and kayaking (Attachment K and public comments, Attachments 1-7). Bridget Cove is used as an occasional commercial fishing boat anchorage during northerly storms (Attachments 9-15).

The proposed clam farm is located between the 0.0 and –3.5 tide levels. Minus tides occur approximately 6-8 times per year for time periods of a few days to a week. Therefore the project will not be visible the majority of the time. It will be marked only with a sign, as no floating structures or hardened surfaces are required. Similarly, planting, harvesting, and monitoring efforts may only take place at minus tides, so activity and additional public presence at the project site will be minimal. Access to the site will be by boat unless the applicant receives a commercial use permit from the Parks Department, therefore the project will not result in increased use of or impacts to the Bridget Cove beach trail.

The project will not impact hikers, campers, or picnickers. Kayakers paddling over clear and shallow water may see the project more clearly than other recreational users, but are unlikely to be impeded by its presence except at very low tides. Kayakers will know the site is there because of the 1’ x 2’ sign required by ADFG. The site has been moved farther south from the northern rocky point to eliminate possible snagging by sportfishermen casting off the point (Attachments D and F). This adjustment also allows for commercial fishing boat anchorage behind the point during northerly storms, though due to the shallowness throughout the shoreline area, boats are still limited to anchoring only at high tides.

Beachcombers visiting the area at minus tides will see the project and will be displaced to other areas of the Cove, but are not barred from coming near the site. ADFG has recommended the following stipulation to protect public use:

"The public shall continue to have access to plants, fish and wildlife resources, and shellfish other than the species being cultured at the farmsite to the extent that such access does not disrupt the operation of the farm, disturb the species being cultured, or damage any of the aquatic farm equipment or gear." (Attachment G, p. 2)

Staff will recommend a condition reinforcing this stipulation to protect public access.

South Bridget Cove is a popular shellfish-gathering site during the winter months (Attachment G and Attachments 1-7). However recreational clamming does not occur within the project area in North Bridget Cove, and ADFG staff found an insignificant number of clams within the project site (Attachment G). Therefore the project does not appear to impact this use.

Because the development will not create noise, will be minimally visible, and require minimal activity for planting, harvest, and maintenance, the proposal is not expected to adversely impact neighborhood harmony provided that public access near the site is assured.

If the project is approved, it would be the only commercial activity within an otherwise undeveloped area surrounded by parkland. Some members of the public are opposed to the project because they believe that no commercial development of any kind should be allowed in this area. This concern goes beyond the level of review allowed for this project and is a policy question for the Assembly, rather than a permit question for the Planning Commission.

Juneau Comprehensive Plan

Policy 2.17 of the Economic Development Chapter states:

"It is the policy of the CBJ to support the development and expansion of the seafood industry and of services and facilities which benefit commercial fishing activity and attract fish processors and harvesters to Juneau."

Policy 2.17.4, one of four implementing actions, more specifically states:

"Support the development of aquaculture and the location of suitable sites within the borough."

The proposal supports these policies by promoting the expansion of the aquaculture industry. The project area is also important to other fisheries as a significant juvenile rearing area for dungeness crab and a potentially important area for the recovery of the herring population (Attachments G and H, ADFG and NMFS comments). ADFG stipulations which require no site disruption during times of herring spawn, buffers around eelgrass beds for dungeness crab, and an annual inventory of eelgrass, protect other fisheries from the potential impacts of aquaculture (Attachment G; for additional detail see JCMP section). Concerns about commercial fishing anchorage in the area have been addressed by adjusting the project site (Attachments D, E, F).

Policy 3.6 of the Natural Resources Chapter states:

"It is the policy of the CBJ to preserve and protect a diversity of fish and wildlife habitat throughout the CBJ."

The proposal does not specifically support this goal. However ADFG stipulations on the project, which CBJ will support through project conditions, will protect dungeness crab and herring spawning areas and support protecting a diversity of fish habitat.

Juneau Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan July 1996

The proposal falls within Subarea 1: Ferry Terminal to Echo Cove. Relevant Specific Recommendations include number six and nine:

(6) Develop a management concept for Tee Harbor to Berner’s Bay

Develop a comprehensive, inter-agency strategy for the management of the park land for the Tee Harbor to Berner’s Bay corridor on both sides of Glacier Highway. The plan should recognize, protect, and enhance the multiple recreational, spiritual, and educational facilities found in that area.

(9) Develop management plan for Yankee Cove/Bridget Cove area

Most of the land west of Glacier Highway from Yankee Cove to Pt. Bridget is in public ownership. Certain areas already receive heavy recreational use and are in need of maintenance and repair. The CBJ should work with Alaska State Parks to determine future management direction.

The Bridget Cove Natural Area Park is further categorized as a semi-primitive area. According to the Parks Comprehensive Plan, a semi-primitive area is defined as:

"an area left predominantly in its natural state with minimal to moderate evidence of the sights and sounds of people. Activities are primarily unstructured, passive types of recreation with high potential for interaction with the natural environment. Concentration of users may be low to moderate. These areas vary in size and are meant to serve the entire community. North and South Bridget Cove are examples of semi-primitive areas."

The Plan also describes the management intent for semi-primitive areas:

"Area will be managed to provide low to moderate densities with facilities sometimes provided for group activity. Facilities are primarily provided for visitor safety and resource protection, although some may be for the convenience of the users. Spacing of groups may be formalized to disperse use and provide low to moderate contacts with other groups or individuals. Management will occur to a moderate extent."

In a comment letter to DNR, the CBJ Parks Department Director noted that "Design and management of these [semi-primitive] areas are planned for a higher sense of solitude than other park types. Improvements should be in harmony with the natural environment. Parking and over all use should be limited to the numbers and types of visitors the area is intended to accommodate, while retaining its natural character at the intended use level." The Director noted that Bridget Cove is one of the few undeveloped recreation areas left on the road system (Attachment K).

Though the proposed clam farm signifies the first commercial activity in or near Bridget Cove Park, the farm will not create noise and will rarely be visible. Planting, harvesting and monitoring activity will also be infrequent since minus tides are required. Access to the site will be by boat, not through the park, unless the Parks Department grants a commercial use permit. Due to the minimal impact, the project is not expected to significantly disturb the remote natural qualities of the area.

Juneau Coastal Management Plan

Coastal Development Section 49.70.905

Section §49.70.905(2) states:

"To the extent feasible and prudent, coastal development shall be designed and operated to prevent adverse impact upon beaches and other physical shore features in the coastal zone."

The proposal consists of planting geoduck spat in 4 inch diameter by 10 inch PVC tubes and seeding the site with littleneck clams below the 0.0 to –3.5 tide levels. The project area will be covered with mesh for predator control. The project will have a minimal impact on the beach and shore features since no permanent floating structures or hardened surfaces are required.

Section §49.70.905(11) states:

"Navigable waters shall be kept free of unnecessarily hazardous or obstructive development."

The project is located in a shallow area, between the 0.0 and –3.5 tide levels, which prohibits boats from anchoring there except for short periods during high tides. However the project area has been moved south to minimize conflicts with commercial fishermen who may anchor behind the northern rocky point during periods of strong northerly winds (Attachments D, E, F). The project will not be hazardous or obstructive to other uses in the area.

Section §49.70.905(12) states:

"To the extent feasible and prudent, development shall not detract from the scenic qualities of the shorelines, shall be compatible with the surroundings, and shall not significantly block scenic vistas."

Because the project is located between the 0.0 and –3.5 tide levels, it will not be visible to the public except when minus tides occur during daylight hours. The development will not detract from scenic shoreline qualities and is compatible with surroundings because it does not create noise; it is generally not visible except through clear water at low tides; it does not conflict with other uses (as discussed in the section on neighborhood harmony); and it is compatible with other fisheries provided ADFG stipulations are met (see below). The development will not significantly block scenic vistas, as all project elements except for the required sign will be submerged the majority of the time.

Fish and Seafood Propagation and Processing Section §49.70.930

Section §49.70.930(a) states:

"Shoreline use shall not adversely impact important fisheries habitat, migratory routes and harvest of significant fish or shellfish species. Shorelines having banks, beaches, and beds critical to the preservation or enhancement of the fisheries resource base shall be maintained in, or restored to, their original condition wherever and whenever feasible and prudent. Upland areas shall be managed to maintain water quality standards necessary for the propagation of anadromous fish species.’

In its comments to CBJ, the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) has recommended against the clam farm proposal because of potential harmful impacts to dungeness crab and herring. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) is largely in agreement with NMFS’ concerns, but has recommended in favor of the proposal with strict project stipulations to protect crab and herring habitat. We will review the information on each species separately, and lastly review impacts to salmon migratory routes.

Dungeness Crab

Bridget Cove is considered a significant local fishery and juvenile rearing area for dungeness crab. The fishery included commercial harvesting in this area until a January, 2000 regulatory decision limited harvesting to personal use. Dungeness crab is currently a depressed stock in the area. Bridget Cove is considered important juvenile rearing habitat which supports rebuilding both the commercial and personal use harvest (Attachment G, p. 4; Attachment H, p. 4).

Eelgrass beds of various sizes are near and possibly within the project site. Eelgrass beds are highly productive marine habitats which support a diversity of fish and invertebrates. Eelgrass beds help prevent erosion, provide bank stability near shore, and provide food, breeding areas, and protective nurseries for many species. Eelgrass beds are important habitat for juvenile crabs (Attachment G, p. 4; Attachment H, p. 4). Eelgrass beds are dynamic and distribution may change from year to year; therefore NMFS is concerned that even if the project is initially located outside of eelgrass beds, eelgrass may migrate within the site over time (Attachment H, p. 3).

ADFG and NMFS agree on the importance of Bridget Cove for recovery of dungeness crab, and agree on the importance of protecting eelgrass beds in the area to support that recovery. As such, ADFG has recommended the following stipulation to address these concerns:

"Aquatic farming activities may not be conducted in eelgrass beds. Either the site must be moved to the south and the east to totally avoid the eelgrass bed, or the boundaries of the eelgrass bed must be mapped and marked with 10 foot buffers for exclusion before planting disturbs the site. Whichever method is chosen, eelgrass extent in and near the site must be monitored via annual mapping during the course of the project." (Attachment G, p. 3)

This stipulation protects crab habitat through protection of eelgrass beds, and acknowledges the dynamic nature of eelgrass by requiring annual mapping. The mapping will be done by the applicant and verified by ADFG. This stipulation ensures that this shoreline development will not adversely impact important crab habitat and that eelgrass beds critical to the preservation or enhancement of the dungeness crab resource base shall be maintained. To ensure consistency with the JCMP, Staff will recommend a condition which reinforces ADFG’s requirement. The applicant also supports this condition because geoduck may not be planted within eelgrass beds; the eelgrass turns geoduck flesh brown and it cannot be sold. The 50’ x 75’ excluded section of the proposed site reflects the current known location of eelgrass (Attachments D and F).

Herring

Bridget Cove is considered potential rebuilding habitat for the depressed Lynn Canal herring stock. Herring have traditionally spawned in the area, and spawning aggregations have been noted in May 2000 and May 2001. Eelgrass is important to herring as a surface for spawn to cling to and as cover for emerging juveniles. As the Lynn Canal herring stock rebuilds, the expanded population is expected to further utilize Bridget Cove beaches. Herring typically spawn from mid-April through early June (Attachment G, p. 3; Attachment H, p. 3).

Turbidity and trampling from on-site work or harvest at certain times of the year could be disruptive by disturbing spawning behavior or destroying deposited herring eggs. ADFG has specifically stated that "an aquatic farm permit will not be issued if it is determined that the proposed site will have significant adverse impact on spawning of important forage fish." (Attachment G, p. 3). If the permit is issued, ADFG will require further herring protection with the following stipulation:

"On-site farm work will not be allowed during the peak herring spawn time period of April 16 to May 15. If herring spawn on the north side of the cove, including on the culture gear, the herring eggs must not be disturbed or removed. If eggs are present, the on-site work prohibition will continue until eggs in the north side of the cove are hatched in order to prevent damage to eggs from turbidity and siltation. All eggs must be allowed to hatch, even though this may result in a loss of aquatic farm products being cultured. The Department of Fish and Game shall be notified, in writing, within five days of the spawning occurrence." (Attachment G, p. 2).

Again, Staff will recommend reinforcement of ADFG’s requirements in the conditions of this application to ensure consistency with the JCMP. This condition ensures that this shoreline development will not adversely impact important herring habitat. The condition on eelgrass protection also supports herring.

Migratory Salmon

There is one catalogued anadromous stream, 115-10-10230 at the south end of Bridget Cove, three quarters of a mile from the site. Another stream, approximately 3 to 4 feet wide with a gentle grade, empties into the cove adjacent to the farm site. This is not a catalogued stream but may host small salmonid populations at certain times of the year. Habitat in the stream is not likely to be damaged by the project, however it emphasizes the importance of measures to minimize turbidity and disturbance (Attachment G, p. 4). ADFG has placed a stipulation that limits harvest gear to manually operated tools. This measure is consistent with typical clam farm operations and does not present a significant impediment to the applicant. Based on ADFG’s analysis and information, the project does not appear to adversely impact important salmon habitat.

Still within the Fish and Seafood Propagation and Processing Section, §49.70.930(b) states:

"Fisheries enhancement and aquaculture shall maintain or restore the quality and normal circulation patterns of affected waters at optimum levels consistent with applicable state standards. Aquaculture hatcheries and fisheries shall be protected from significant water quality degradation by other users."

Based on comments from ADFG and NMFS, no evidence indicates that the proposal will adversely impact circulation patterns in the area. No evidence indicates that the farm site will be impacted by water quality degradation from other users.

§49.70.930(c) states:

"Aquaculture development and fisheries enhancement shall be located, designed and operated so that aesthetic values of local shorelines are maintained to the extent feasible and prudent."

Aesthetic values have been addressed in the analysis of impacts to scenic qualities and scenic vistas, Section §49.70.905(12). Due to its minimal visibility, the development is not expected to impact the aesthetic value of the Bridget Cove shoreline.

§49.70.930(d) states:

"Fisheries enhancement and aquaculture practices, including disposal of wastes, viscera or fish scrap, shall be conducted so as not to violate applicable state water quality and litter control standards."

ADFG has placed a stipulation on the project which states that no wastes of any kind may be discharged or otherwise disposed of at the site. Nor will there be any processing at the site beyond sorting, washing, grading, and packaging. Staff recommends a condition reinforcing this stipulation to ensure consistency with the JCMP.

Habitat Section §49.70.950

Section §49.70.950(a)(3), followed by §49.70.950(b) states that:

"(a) Habitats in the coastal area which are subject to the Alaska Coastal Management Program include: (3) wetlands and tideflats….(b) The habitats contained in subsection (a) of this section shall be managed so as to maintain or enhance the biological, physical and chemical characteristics of the habitat which contribute to its capacity to support living resources."

Section §49.70.950(c)(3) states:

"Wetlands and tideflats shall be managed so as to assure adequate waterflow, nutrients, and oxygen levels, to avoid the adverse effects on natural drainage patterns, the destruction of important habitat, and the discharge of toxic substances."

Based on comments from ADFG and NMFS (Attachments G and H), no evidence indicates that the project will adversely impact natural drainage patterns or impact waterflow, nutrients, and oxygen levels. Avoiding destruction of important crab and herring habitat is contingent upon ADFG stipulations which require eelgrass buffers, yearly monitoring of eelgrass, and no on-site farm work during periods of herring spawning. Staff will recommend a condition which reinforce these stipulations to ensure consistency with this section. Please see the analysis under Section §49.70.930(a) for more details.

Section §49.70.950(c)(7) states:

"Rivers, streams, and lakes shall be managed so as to protect natural vegetation, water quality, important fish or wildlife habitat and natural waterflow."

The project will not impact any rivers, streams, or lakes in the area.

FINDINGS

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 if a Conditional Use Permit is approved, according to the Table of Permissible Uses. The permit is listed at CBJ §49.25.300, Section 14.100 for the Rural Reserve 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 November 11, 2002. A public notice sign was posted on site at least 14 days prior to the meeting. A second public notice sign was placed in the CBJ Auke Bay auxiliary parking lot along Glacier Highway. Notice was mailed to owners of record for all property within 500 feet of the subject property on January 8, 2002. The proposal was originally scheduled for the January 8, 2002 Planning Commission meeting but was withdrawn due to inaccurate public notice information provided by the applicant which indicated a project size of 4,000 square feet instead of 40,250.

4. Will the proposed development materially endanger the public health or safety?

No. No evidence indicates that the development will materially endanger the public health or safety. Concerns regarding the protected anchorage for commercial fishermen have been met by the applicant through adjustment of the project site. The development will be marked with a sign so the public will not accidentally stumble upon the area at low tides. The development has been moved farther south to avoid possible snagging by sportfishermen. The project location in shallow water, between the 0.0 to –3.5 tide levels, minimizes potential impacts to motorboats.

5. Will the proposed development substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area?

No. The development will not create noise, will be minimally visible, and require minimal activity for planting, harvest, and maintenance. Therefore the proposal is not expected to adversely impact neighborhood harmony, provided that public access near the site is assured through the condition listed below.

  1. Will the proposed development be in general conformity with the land use plan, thoroughfare plan, or other officially adopted plans?

Yes. The proposed development is in general conformity with the Juneau Comprehensive Plan provided the project meets ADFG project stipulations which promote aquaculture while protecting the dungeness crab and herring fisheries. The proposal is in general conformity with the Juneau Parks and Recreation Comprehensive Plan because it will rarely be visible, it requires minimal harvest and maintenance activity, and it does not create noise.

7. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?

Yes. The proposed development complies with the enforceable policies of the JCMP provided the recommended conditions listed below are met. As proposed, the development has the potential to negatively impact dungeness crab and herring stocks. However ADFG stipulations, reinforced by CBJ as conditions, adequately address these impacts by preserving and monitoring eelgrass beds, preventing activity during times of herring spawn, restricting harvest methods to manual tools, and prohibiting disposal of waste on site.

 

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that the Planning Commission adopt the director's analysis and findings and grant the requested Conditional Use permit, which would allow the development of a 40,250 square foot geoduck and littleneck clam farm on state-owned tidelands in Bridget Cove across from Mab Island. The approval is subject to the following conditions:

  1. Access to the site shall be by boat only unless the applicant has obtained a commercial use permit from the CBJ Parks and Recreation Department. Project approval by the Planning Commission does not require the CBJ Parks and Recreation Department to provide access through the park.
  2. Pursuant to JCMP §49.70.930(a), aquatic farming activities may not be conducted in eelgrass beds. Eelgrass beds must be mapped by the applicant and marked with 10 foot buffers for exclusion before planting disturbs the site. Eelgrass extent in and near the site must be monitored via annual mapping during the course of the project. If the annual mapping of eelgrass indicates expansion of the eelgrass beds, the applicant shall be required to adjust the project site to meet minimum buffering requirements.
  3. Pursuant to JCMP §49.70.930(a), on-site farm work will not be allowed during the peak herring spawn time period of April 16 to May 15. Herring eggs must not be disturbed or removed. If eggs are present, the on-site work prohibition will continue until eggs are hatched in order to prevent damage to eggs from turbidity and siltation. All eggs must be allowed to hatch, even though this may result in a loss of aquatic farm products being cultured.
  4. Pursuant to JCMP §49.70.930(d), no wastes of any kind may be discharged or otherwise disposed of at the site. There shall be no on-site shucking or processing of aquatic farm products beyond sorting, washing, grading, and packaging. The applicant shall not leave additional equipment or debris unattended on site.
  5. The public shall continue to have access to plants, fish and wildlife resources, and shellfish other than the species being cultured at the farmsite to the extent that such access does not disrupt the operation of the farm, disturb the species being cultured, or damage any of the aquatic farm equipment or gear.
  6. If the project is expanded, including through the addition of a joint-use cabin or storage shed, the applicant must apply for another Conditional Use permit.