DATE:         February 5, 2001

TO:              Board of Adjustment

FROM:       Greg Chaney, Planner
                     Community Development Department

FILE NO.:   VAR2001-00033 Variance

PROPOSAL: A variance to reduce parking lot capacity by approximately 7 percent to allow construction of a five-pump fuel station.

GENERAL INFORMATION

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 - 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

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant has requested 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), 8' x 19.5' cashier’s kiosk and two underground gasoline storage tanks. This station will be located in the extreme southeast corner of Fred Meyer’s existing parking lot. The addition of this facility will result in the removal of 44 parking spaces.

BACKGROUND

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. In 1989 the former Wendy’s restaurant was converted to Juneau Electronics which occupies the northeast corner of the site. In May of 1992 a Conditional Use permit was granted for Fred Meyer to utilize a portion of the 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. In the past, during summer months, RV’s occasionally parked overnight in this section of the lot. 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.

In 1992 the parking requirement for Fred Meyer was re-evaluated under CU-13-92. At that time, the parking requirement was established as 580 parking spaces. In addition, when Juneau Electronics was converted from a restaurant to a retail store in 1989 it required 15 parking spaces. The new fuel station facility will require one additional space bringing the site’s total minimum requirement to 596 spaces as listed below:

580 Fred Meyer
15 Juneau Electronics
_1 Gas Station
596

A parking count conducted on the site by staff determined that the property currently hosts 627 parking spaces. However, due to storage needs resulting from staging shipping containers on the site, 21 of these spaces are not available (Attachment 1). The store management has determined that these spaces will frequently be blocked with shipping containers and should not be included when calculating total parking available. In addition, approximately 20 parking spaces are substandard in length. Although these spaces are not full size, they do accommodate compact cars and therefore offer some functional value.

Currently available parking spaces:

  1. Parcel #1 (Fred Meyer)

  22    Parcel #2 (Juneau Electronics)

-21__Unavailable due to storage needs

606 Spaces Currently Available

The proposed fueling station will result in the removal of 44 spaces (Attachments 2 & 3):

606 Spaces Currently Available

-44 Spaces To Be Removed For Gas Station Installation

562 Spaces On Site

Once the station is installed as proposed, the lot will contain:

535 Standard Spaces (8.5’x17’)

20 Substandard Spaces (8.5’x Less Than 17’)

+ 7 Accessible Spaces

562 Total Spaces On Site

If the substandard spaces are not included in this total, a parking requirement reduction of approximately 9% will be requested. If the substandard spaces are included, the total is closer to 6% less than required. This total corresponds to the parking study cited by the applicant (Attachment 4) which concludes that a ratio of 4.5 spaces to 1,000 square feet of retail is acceptable.

ANALYSIS

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.

The entire site is currently occupied by buildings, parking or vegetation. Since vegetative cover of the lot is near the 10% minimum, there is very little land available to convert from vegetation to parking. The applicant will not be able to provide parking for the proposed gas station and retain enough vegetative cover to meet minimum vegetative cover requirements. Therefore the relaxation requested would give substantial relief to the property owner and allow the applicant to construct the fuel station as proposed.

The site has supported the existing retail functions for several years and no parking shortage has been experienced in that time. Observations from the store management have indicated that even during the busiest holiday shopping days, at least 10% of the lot’s parking spaces remain empty. This is particularly true of parking spaces proposed to be removed, which are farthest from store entrances. During busy periods, shoppers might have to park farther from the store than they have become accustomed, but there is still excess parking on site. There has never been a time when customers have complained that there was not enough parking available and customers have never been forced to park off site. The small percentage of parking to be removed as a result of this application will not result in people resorting to parking on adjacent properties, therefore approval of this variance application is consistent with justice to other property owners.

In consideration of the above analysis, 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.

Some of the spaces to be removed will allow for construction of an exit only lane from the proposed fuel facility. This dedicated exit lane will significantly enhance public safety. Staff has received no indication that the number of parking spaces to be removed would, in any way, create a threat to public safety. Therefore, this variance could be granted while preserving public safety and welfare.

In consideration of the above analysis, this criterion is met.

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

Since all parking will be accommodated on site, no impact on adjacent property is anticipated. Therefore, this variance may be granted without impacting nearby properties.

In consideration of the above analysis, this criterion is met.

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

Retail uses have been permitted on the site for many years. The Conditional Use permit application, USE2001-00048, is being considered concurrently with this variance application for the proposed gas station. If it is approved, all proposed uses will be allowed on the site. If the Conditional Use permit is not approved, the only uses on site will be retail uses, which have already been permitted. Approval of this variance will not have any impact on the uses currently present.

In consideration of the above analysis, 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;

Currently the property hosts two retail uses without a parking variance, therefore the property owner would not be prevented from using the site for a principle use if the variance was not approved.

Therefore 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;

The site currently supports active retail uses which are consistent with the general nature of development in the region. There has been no evidence presented to indicate that the existing uses would be unable to continue if this parking variance was not granted.

Therefore this sub-criterion is not met.

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

The site is unique because it is surrounded on three sides by rights-of-way leaving only one neighboring property. It also hosts one of the largest parking lots in Juneau. Vegetation on the property is near the minimum required. Construction of additional parking spaces on site to meet Title 49 requirements would cause vegetative cover to be reduced below the 10% minimum required. In order to meet both parking and vegetative cover requirements, the applicant would be forced to purchase additional property. Due to the unique configuration of the lot being nearly surrounded by rights-of-way, little if any land is available to enlarge the lot. Extensive experience has shown that the code specified parking requirement for this site exceeds the demonstrated need. Therefore, physical features of the site (triple right-of-way frontage, oversized parking lot and minimal vegetation) create a unique situation. Construction of the proposed fuel station could only take place without a parking variance if the property owner purchases additional land. Purchase of more property would constitute an unreasonable expense considering additional parking will not be utilized.

Therefore this sub-criterion is 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.

Staff is not aware of any pre-existing, non-conforming conditions on the subject parcel.

Therefore, this sub-criterion is not met.

Since the finding for sub-criterion (C) was positive, staff determines that criterion #5 has been met.

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

If this variance were not granted, the applicant would be forced to purchase additional property to enlarge the parking lot. Since the site already contains one of the largest parking lots in Juneau, the neighborhood would benefit more from leaving existing vegetation in place rather than converting land to unutilized asphalt pavement.

Therefore this criterion is met.

JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

Based on the above analysis, the grant of this variance will not be in conflict with the goals of the Juneau Coastal Management Program (JCMP).

FINDINGS

1. Is the application for the requested variance complete?

Yes. The applicant has submitted sufficient information to conduct a complete analysis of the variance criteria and has included the appropriate fees.

2. Will the proposed development comply with the JCMP?

Yes. Based on the above analysis, the grant of this variance will not be in conflict with the JCMP.

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

Yes. Based on the above analysis, all criteria of Section §49.20.250 have been met.

 

RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director’s analysis and findings and approve the requested variance for a total of 562 total spaces (as described below) where 581 parking spaces are required.

Parking On Site Shall Include A Minimum Of:

535 Standard Spaces (8.5’x17’)

20 Substandard Spaces (8.5’x Less Than 17’)

+ 7 Accessible Spaces

562 Total Parking Spaces