DATE:         February 05, 2002

TO:              Board of Adjustment

FROM:       Mark Jaqua, Planner
                    Community Development Department

FILE NO.:   VAR2001-00034

PROPOSAL: A variance to reduce the minimum front setback from 25’ to 0’ for an existing carport, and a variance to reduce the minimum front setback to 5’ to replace an existing garage with a shop.



Applicant:                         Virginia Copland 

Property Owner:               Virginia Copland 

Property Address:             12701 Glacier Hwy 

Legal Description:             USS 2340

Parcel Code Number:       4-B30-0-102-001-0 

Site Size:                           28,749.00 Square Feet

Zoning:                             D-3

Utilities:                             City Water, On-Site Sewer

Access:                             Glacier Highway

Existing Land Use:             Single Family Residence, with derelict garage and a carport

Surrounding Land Use:     North -DOT ROW
                                        South -DOT ROW
                                        East -Auke Bay
                                        West -Auke Bay


Ms. Copland seeks two variances. One variance to reduce the front setback requirement of 25’ feet to 5’, to accommodate rebuilding the existing derelict garage into a small workshop. She also seeks a variance for zero setback for an unpermitted existing carport that was found to be over the front property line and encroaching on DOT right-of-way.


Ms. Copland purchased her property in 1988. At the time of purchase it had a small garage that was built around 1945. The garage was inadequate in size for modern cars and was in poor repair. In 1992, Ms. Copeland hired a contractor to build a 2-car carport next to the garage. The contractor did not apply for a building permit and City staff was unaware of its construction. With further deterioration of the garage, Ms. Copland wished to have it torn down and build a suitable shop in the same location. Construction of a shop requiring a 25’ setback from the front property line necessitated a variance application for a 5’ setback. During review of the variance application, staff found that the carport was unpermitted and extended over the property line into the State Department of Transportation right-of-way for Glacier Highway. Ms. Copland amended her variance application to include a 0’ setback for the existing carport in addition to the variance to reduce the 25’ setback for the shop to allow for a 5’ setback in order to use the existing garage site for the shop. See Attachment A—Ms. Copland Letter, and Attachment B-As Built Site Plan.


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 two variances will allow the applicant to utilize an existing garage site for a workshop. The usable space on the parcel is very limited due to steep cliffs on the ocean side, and a knoll between the house and the roadway. The proposed shop will use the same footprint and existing piling footings for support. A lesser relaxation would significantly increase costs for shop construction and likely make it impractical.

The existing carport extends about 15’ into the DOT right-of-way past the front property line. It would also be impractical to reposition the carport, or position it totally with the property due to the limited driveway space.

Therefore, 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.

The requested variances will allow the applicant to use the property as intended, with a single-family dwelling, a detached shop and open carport. All structures are allowed within the D-3 zone and existing lot size. The front property line is well back from Glacier Highway and buffered with a 25’ tree line. The structures under consideration pose no public safety hazard.

This criterion is met.

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

The applicant is working with Rob Murphy of Alaska Department of Transportation to resolve the encroachment issue. Ms. Copland asserts that DOT plans in the near future are to continue blasting the uphill side of Glacier Highway in order to align the highway towards the upland side. This will move the existing road and right-of-way farther from her property. There is potential for the existing right-of-way to be transferred to public or private ownership. The applicant is pursuing an easement or lease agreement for the encroachment. There are no private property owners adjacent to this parcel.

This criterion is met.

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

All uses are allowed within this zoning designation and property size.

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;

The steep cliff’s and narrow driveway limit the space available for building new shop and carport structures. High costs for site preparation and building would be prohibitive. Costs for demolition of the existing garage and construction of a new shop on the same site are affordable for the applicant (see Attachment C).

Therefore, this sub-criterion is 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;

This property is fairly unique within the neighborhood in that it is an "island" parcel between the highway and the ocean. The physical features limit how the house and buildings can be sited to allow reasonable access and turnaround space for vehicles. Other shore side properties in the area use carports adjacent to the highway with turnaround space. The proposed shop building and existing carport are similar to other structures in the vicinity.

Therefore, this sub-criterion is met.

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

This parcel is about 28,750 square feet (0.66 acres), with about 300 square feet of flat driveway access. The rest of the property is steeply sloped with a cliff face running parallel with the highway. The house is built on piling with a small footpath for access from the parking area. The parcel has an inherent high cost for building and renovation due to the limited access.

Therefore, this sub-criterion is met.


    1. 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.
(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.


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

These two variances will limit the amount of additional construction impact for the proposed shop building and rebuilding of a carport. The property has dense borders and maintains a quality viewshed for area neighbors. Additional loss of tree cover and vegetative border for the highway will lessen the natural setting of the area.

Therefore, this sub-criterion is met.


The parcel conforms to the Juneau Coastal Management Program (JCMP) section §49.70.905 for general development in coastal areas and §49.70.950 for protecting wildlife habitat.


  1. Is the application for the requested variance complete?

Yes, based on the above analysis, I find the application to have sufficient information to evaluate compliance with CBJ Title 49 Land Use Code.

  1. Will the proposed development comply with the JCMP?
  2. Yes, based on the above analysis I find that the plans for the shop comply with the JCMP requirements for general development in coastal zone and for protection of wildlife habitat.

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

Yes, based on the above analysis, I find that applicant meets criteria 1through 6. The unique physical cliff features and limited building space of this parcel are grounds for granting a variance. Ms. Copland has been issued a Building Permit Reminder by the CBJ Zoning Inspector requiring a building permit application for the unpermitted existing carport to be submitted by March 15, 2002. Ms. Copland has contacted DOT to resolve the carport encroachment in the Glacier Highway right-of-way. 


Staff recommends that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director’s analysis and findings and approve a front setback variance for a 5’ setback on the proposed shop, and a variance for zero foot front setback on the existing carport.