DATE:             February 6, 2002

TO:                  Planning Commission

FROM:           Oscar Graham, Planner
                        Community Development Department

FILE NO.:       VAR2001-00027, VAR2001-00029

PROPOSAL:   VAR2001-00027 – A variance request to reduce parking requirement to 40% of standard.

                         VAR2001-00029 – A variance request to delete requirement of on-site loading zone.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant: Walsh Services

Property Owner: Steve Landvik

Property Address: 425 South Franklin Street, Juneau

Legal Description: Juneau Townsite Addition, Block 1, Lot 1A

Parcel Code Number: 1-C07-0-I01-001-0, 1-C07-0-I01-002-0

Site Size: 8,400 Square Feet

Zoning: Mixed Use

Utilities: CBJ Water and Sewer Services

Access: South Franklin Street

Existing Land Use: Vacant

Surrounding Land Use: North - Tourist Oriented Retail
                                    South - Tourist Oriented Retail
                                    East - Gastineau Avenue/Residential
                                    West - South Franklin Street

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The subject variance requests are made in association with USE2001-00042 and USE2001-00043 which request land use authorizations to construct a 15,600 square foot tourist oriented retail structure in a landslide hazard area. The proposed Trucano/Landvik Building (TLB) will consist of two floors. Each floor will comprise 6,700 square feet. The building will include a mezzanine of 2,200 square feet in conjunction with the first floor. The first floor will be divided into three sub-spaces for lease to retail operators. The mezzanine and second floor will be divided into sub-spaces for storage use by the main floor lessees. Only the first floor will be utilized directly for retail sales activity. (Attachment A: Site Plan/Elevations)

VAR2001-00027 - The applicant is requesting a reduction of 60% from the standard parking requirement of 1 space per 200 square feet. The applicant is requesting further reduction based on the extensive amount of storage area in the building that is not directly related to retail sales. The applicant proposes a reduction to 14 spaces that will be located at the Channel View Apartments approximately 500 feet north of the proposed TLB. (Attachment B: Applications)

VAR2001-00029 – The applicant is requesting elimination of the loading zone requirement on the TLB site. The applicant indicates that there is no feasible means of locating a loading zone on the site. In addition, the applicant notes that virtually every building along Franklin Street loads merchandise from the street or street-side parking spaces. The applicant also asserts that the exceptionally large area of the building devoted to storage will substantially reduce loading activity during the peak use season. (Attachment C: Applicant’s Narrative)

Note: The applicant had originally proposed to satisfy the parking requirement at the rock dump via shuttle through a third Variance (VAR2001-00028). The current proposal to utilize the Channel View Parking Structure eliminates the need for this variance.

BACKGROUND

As a part of this application package the applicant has requested a modification of the Channel View Apartment Allowable Use Permit. The Notice of Decision for USE2000-00055 included a condition (#5) requiring a deed restriction on the Channel View property reserving 20 parking spaces for use by AFG 1& 2 and H& H as follows. (Attachment D: Vicinity Map of Affected Properties)

5. Prior to issuance of a building permit the applicant shall demonstrate that a deed restriction has been recorded with the State recorders Office on the subject property to reserve 20 parking spaces to be allotted to meet the land use code requirements for the retail/residential use of the Alaska Fur Gallery I & II buildings, and the residential use of the H & H Building. Further, half of these spaces shall be made available to the Channel View Apartment building in accordance with the shared parking concept approved by the Planning Commission.

Following approval of USE2000-00055, the owner of AFG 1 & 2 and H & H determined that the commercial parking spaces were not needed and advised the developer of the Channel View Apartments that their parking agreement would be amended to address only the 4 residential spaces associated with Fur Gallery 1 & 2 and 1 residential space for the H & H Building. (Attachment E: Modified Shared Parking Agreement)

The subject modification request was made in order to:

ANALYSIS

Section §49.40.210 establishes the minimum space and dimensional standards for parking and offloading. The table of minimum parking standards identifies the requirement for retail commercial at 1 space per 200 square feet of gross floor area. Therefore, the standard requirement for a 15,600 square foot retail commercial structure is 78 spaces.

Only the main floor will be utilized for retail activity and the same employees who staff the retail outlets will provide stocking functions on the mezzanine and second floor storage areas. These areas are not anticipated to generate parking demand. The applicant has requested that the mezzanine and second floor be eliminated from the gross floor area for the purpose of calculating the final parking requirement. This request is considered a part of the rationale for the variance. By subtracting the 2,200 square feet of the mezzanine and the 6,700 square feet of the second floor the gross floor area utilized for calculating the parking requirement is 6,700 square feet. The standard parking requirement for the retail commercial gross floor area is 34 spaces.

The subject property is located in Parking District 2 (PD-2) which provides for a reduction to 70% of the standard requirement or 23.4 spaces. The applicant is requesting a reduction to the Parking District 1 (PD-1) standard which provides for a reduction to 40 percent of the standard requirement or 13.6 (14) parking spaces. The PD-1 boundary is located approximately 60 feet north of the subject property at Carol Way. Consideration of parking proposals in the South Franklin Street area commonly utilize the PD-1 standard in recognition of the reduced parking demand associated with tourist oriented retail activity.

Variance Requirements

Under CBJ §49.20.250 where hardship and practical difficulties result from an extraordinary situation or unique physical feature affecting only a specific parcel of property or structures lawfully existing thereon and render it difficult to carry out the provisions of Title 49, the Board of Adjustment may grant a variance in harmony with the general purpose and intent of Title 49. A variance may vary any requirement or regulation of Title 49 concerning dimensional and other design standards, but not those concerning the use of land or structures, housing density, lot coverage, or those establishing construction standards. A variance may be granted after the prescribed hearing and after the Board of Adjustment has determined:

1. That the relaxation applied for or a lesser relaxation specified by the Board of Adjustment would give substantial relief to the owner of the property involved and be more consistent with justice to other property owners.

VAR2001-00027 – The relaxation applied for will give substantial relief to the property owner by allowing a reduced number of parking spaces to satisfy the parking requirement associated with the proposed tourist oriented retail facility. Additionally the required parking spaces may be obtained at the Channel View Apartments parking deck located 495 feet north of the subject property. Use of Channel View would eliminate the need for a rock dump/shuttle proposal which would require the approval of an additional variance. The applicant has an interest in both the TLB and Channel View projects which increases the efficacy of the parking proposal. Most of the property owners in the vicinity enjoy pre-existing non conforming status or have received similar reductions in the parking requirements. Staff have routinely utilized the PD-1 standard relative to tourist oriented retail outside the district boundaries in recognition of reduced parking demand in the area. This criterion is met.

Variance2001-00029 – The relaxation applied for will give substantial relief to the property owner by allowing utilization of the relatively limited building area for the intended use. The applicant has provided consideration for loading by dedicating an exceptionally large area of the overall building for the storage of merchandise. A cursory survey of the area indicates that many shops in the vicinity utilize street or street-side parking spaces for loading purposes. This criterion is met.

2. That relief can be granted in such a fashion that the intent of this title will be observed and the public safety and welfare be preserved.

VAR2001-00027 – Relief can be granted while observing the intent of the title by approving the minimum number of parking spaces required to service the parking demand of the facility. The applicant has provided an analysis which provides substantial evidence that the proposed 14 spaces will be adequate to serve the 6700 square feet of retail floor space. The Channel View Apartments parking deck is located within 500 feet of the proposed retail facility. Approval of the subject variance appears to be a more realistic alternative than the rock dump/shuttle approach initially proposed. The public safety and welfare will be preserved by providing parking and accessible spaces in conjunction with the proposal. This criterion is met.

VAR2001-00029 – Relief can be provided while observing the intent of the title because the exceptionally large portion of the structure devoted to storage will minimize the need for regular loading from the street of street-side parking spaces. The applicant indicates that the retail operators will have an entire season’s worth of goods in place on the mezzanine and second floor when the peak tourist season begins. This feature of the proposal also preserves the public safety and welfare by minimizing the facilities contribution to traffic congestion. This criterion is met.

3. That the authorization of the variance will not injure nearby property.

VARs2001-00027, 00029 - There is no indication that authorization of the variances will injure nearby properties. This criterion is met.

4. That the variance does not authorize uses not allowed in the district involved.

VARs2001-00027, 00029 – The variances do not authorize a use not allowed in the district involved. The commercial/retail use of the proposed TLB is an allowed use in the Mixed Use District. This criterion is met.

5. That compliance with the existing standards would:

(A) Unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principal use;

VAR2001-00027 - Compliance with the existing standards would not prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principle use. A greater number of parking spaces could be provided. The applicant has attempted to minimize the number of spaces consistent with the perceived parking demand. This sub-criterion is not met.

VAR2001-00029 - Compliance with the existing standards would not prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principle use. A loading space could be provided by dedicating less space on the lot to the desired principle use. This sub-criterion is not met.

(B) Unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property in a manner which is   consistent as to scale, amenities, appearance or features, with existing development in the neighborhood of the subject property;

VAR2001-00027 – Compliance with the existing standards may result in an inflated estimation of the spaces required to satisfy the parking demand associated with the facility. On-site parking facilities would unreasonably limit the owner from utilizing the property in a manner consistent with existing development in the neighborhood. The spaces proposed in association with the Channel View Apartments appear to represent a reasonable achievable parking plan consistent with that generally provided with existing development. This sub-criterion is met.

VAR2001-00029 – Compliance with the existing standards would require the utilization of a 30’ x 12’ area fronting Franklin Street as a loading space. Accommodation of the loading space would diminish the area available for retail commercial activity. While the TLB will be larger than many structures, most retail commercial development in the neighborhood maximizes lot coverage with structural development. The mitigating factor of the large area of the building dedicated for storage is also considered in establishing this finding. This sub-criterion is met.

(C) Be unnecessarily burdensome because unique physical features of the property render compliance with the standards unreasonably expensive;

VAR2001-00027, 00029 – While the subject property is quite small (8400 sf) and slopes at a gradient of approximately 50% from the eastern property line to the toe near South Franklin Street, these physical features do not render compliance unnecessarily burdensome. It is the property owner’s desire to maximize structural development on the limited lot area that inhibits compliance with existing standards. This sub-criterion is not met.

or

(D) Because of preexisting nonconforming conditions on the subject parcel the grant of the variance would not result in a net decrease in overall compliance with the Land Use Code, CBJ Title 49, or the building code, CBJ Title 19, or both.

VAR2001-000027, 00029 – There are no bona-fide preexisting nonconforming conditions associated with the subject property. This sub-criterion is not met.

                    Because sub-criterion (B) is satisfied, criterion 5 is met.

6. That a grant of the variance would result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood.

VAR2001-00027 – Granting the variance would result in the utilization of the maximum lot area for the intended primary use of the property while providing 14 parking spaces within 500 feet of the use. While a reduction in floor area was utilized to calculate the required spaces and further reduction was provided based on the PD–1 standard, 14 spaces is considered adequate to meet the anticipated parking demand. Because the applicant has an interest in both the TLB and Channel View Apartments, staff considers the proposed parking plan achievable. If approved, TLB and Channel View will be constructed concurrently making parking spaces available for the TLB upon its completion. The benefits of the proposed retail facility considered in conjunction with the viability of the parking plan indicate that the variance would result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood. This criterion is met.

VAR2001-00029 – Granting the variance would result in the elimination of the loading space requirement within an area subject to traffic congestion, particularly during the peak use season. While many facilities in the area are not supported by a loading space, failure to consider merchandise loading in association with retail facilities can reasonably be expected to exacerbate congestion. The applicant has proposed a structure which is supported by an unusually large area (8900 sf) of storage area. When considered in light of this mitgative factor the benefits of the proposed retail facility would result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood. This criterion is met.

JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

A review of the enforceable policies of the JCMP revealed that the policies are not applicable to the project as proposed.

FINDINGS

    1.    Is the application for the requested variance complete?

Yes. The application contains the information necessary to review the variance request. The application submittal including the appropriate fees substantially conforms to the requirements of the CBJ Code, Chapter 15.

  1. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?
  2. Not Applicable. Based on the preceding staff analysis, it is found that no provision of the Juneau Coastal Management Program apply to the proposed variance.

  3. Does the variance as requested, meet the criteria of Section 49.20.250, Grounds for Variances?

Yes. Based on the analysis of the criteria above, the variance request meets the criterion of Section §49.2.250.

RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director’s analysis and findings and approve the requested variances subject to the following conditions.

VAR2001-00027

  1. Prior to issuance of a building permit, the applicant shall demonstrate that a deed restriction has been recorded with the State Recorders Office on the property occupied by the Channel View Apartments to reserve 14 parking spaces to be allotted to meet the land use code parking requirements for the retail use of the Trucano/Landvik Building.

VAR2001-00029

  1. The applicant shall obtain a temporary use permit from DOTPF for periodic street side loading of merchandise.