DATE:             February 19, 2002

TO:                  Board of Adjustment

FROM:          Greg Chaney, Planner
                        Community Development Department

FILE NO.:      VAR2002-00004 Parking Variance

PROPOSAL:  A Variance request to reduce the loading zone size requirement from 12’ x 30’ to 12' x 17'.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant:                         Dirk Lovig

Property Owner:              Dirk Lovig

Property Address:           544 Commercial Boulevard

Legal Description:           Glacier Industrial, Lot 3A

Parcel Code Number:     5-B12-0-130-005-0

Site Size:                        25,452 Square Feet

Zoning:                          Industrial (I)

Utilities:                         Public Water and Sewer

Access:                         Commercial Boulevard and Anka Street

Existing Land Use:         Outdoor storage of construction materials.

Surrounding Land Use:  North - Anka Street, Industrial
                                    South - Commercial Boulevard, Industrial
                                    East - Lot 4, Industrial
                                    West - Lot 2A, Industrial

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant requests a Conditional Use permit for the development of a one-story building designed for long-term records storage. Total area for the building is anticipated to be approximately 10,360 square feet. This building is being constructed for occupancy by the State of Alaska, Bureau of Vital Statistics. Per CBJ§49.40.210(c)(1) the minimum size for a loading zone is 12’x30’. The applicant has requested a reduction in the required minimum length of the loading zone from 30 to 17 feet.

 

BACKGROUND

The building has been designed to accommodate the needs of a Records storage service. A central component of the structure will be a 3,050 square foot vault for documents. Access to the vault will be restricted and the building has incorporated several fire prevention measures. It is anticipated that eighteen staff members will be working full time at the facility. Members of the public will come to the facility to access official records but this visitation is not anticipated to exceed four customers at any given time. Average customer volume is expected to be significantly lower.

 

ANALYSIS

Project Site – The lot has an area of approximately 25,452 square feet. It is a double frontage lot located between Anka Street and Commercial Boulevard.

Project Design – A parking lot will stretch across the western portion of the lot while the main building will be located along the lot’s eastern half. Access to the parking lot will be available from both Anka Street and Commercial Boulevard. The applicant has proposed a total of 36 parking spaces with a 12’x17’ loading zone. Landscaping will be provided on over 3,000 square feet of the lot while only 2,545 square feet of vegetative cover are required.

Traffic – Traffic generated by this facility is not anticipated to problematic. Since all records which come to the facility must be in standard document format, most vehicles visiting the site are regular automobiles. Currently delivery vans are the largest vehicles that access the Bureau of Vital Statistics offices. No large truck traffic is anticipated in connection with this facility once construction is done.

Parking and Circulation – Thirty six parking spaces have been shown on the preferred site plan by the applicant. Due to the relatively low number of on site visitors, the applicant has requested that the parking requirement for this facility be calculated at the "Non-Customer Service Office" rate of one space required per 300 square feet of floor space. The applicant has provided documentation from John Tomaro and based on observation of the Vital Statistics office, a maximum of four customers have visited the office at any one time in the past three months. Average customer volume has been much lower. Given this modest customer load, calculating parking requirements based on a ratio of one parking space per 300 square feet of office space seems appropriate. For a building of 10,360 square feet, 35 parking spaces would be required. Since 36 parking spaces have been proposed, this requirement will be met.

Due to the unique nature of the facility, a substandard loading zone has been proposed. Minimum size for a loading zone is 12’x30’ but the applicant has shown a loading zone of 12’x17’. Due to the substandard size of the proposed loading area, the applicant has submitted this variance application to reduce the loading zone length requirement.

In order to meet the full loading zone requirement, the building would have to be shortened by two feet with a loading zone placed along the southern building face as shown in the applicant’s site plan on Attachment 1 and labeled "Loading Area C".

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.

Since the vehicles which normally deliver to the site are standard sized automobiles and vans, little utility would be gained by requiring the applicant to permanently designate a 12’x30’ loading zone. This large loading zone could only be accommodated by reducing the size of the building. Since this loading zone is not anticipated to be used and would reduce the applicant’s building size, reducing the loading zone’s length to 17 feet would provide the applicant with substantial relief.

Parking provided in the proposed lot meets the code minimum for parking spaces however it greatly exceeds the parking load the applicant has experienced in their current facility. Given that there will probably be unused parking spaces in the lot, when large delivery vehicles visit the site, they can straddle several unused spaces. If a large truck is expected, spaces in the lot could temporarily be blocked to provide the truck with a temporary loading zone. Since the site will accommodate occasional deliveries by vehicles over 17 feet long, these vehicles will not be forced to park in the right-of-way or on adjacent property. Therefore, the proposal can be approved without impacting adjacent property owners and be 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.

Experience has indicated that most deliveries to the Bureau of Vital Statistics are by mail vehicles and standard automobiles. Mail delivery vehicles often double park in front of entrances when loading zones are not provided immediately adjacent to the door. Since the applicant proposes to designate a loading zone near the front entrance, mail delivery vehicles will be likely to use this space. This will reduce the incidents of double parking and this variance will therefore preserve 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.

As described in finding #1 there is no indication that reducing the required loading zone length will injure nearby property.

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

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

The use proposed for this structure was found to be similar to a "Post Office" as listed under the Land Use Code’s, Table of Permissible Uses 15.100. This determination was made by the Planning Commission during its regularly scheduled meeting of January 25, 2002. Reduction of the loading zone requirement will not affect the use or function of this facility.

                    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;

The applicant has the option of reducing the size of the building to accommodate the required loading zone dimensions.

Therefore this sub-criterion is not met.

    1. 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 applicant has the option of reducing the size of the building to accommodate the required loading zone dimensions. Although this would pose a hardship, the site could still be utilized for the proposed purpose.

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 lot is unique since it has frontage on two rights-of-way which are opposite each other. In order to enhance safe traffic flow, the applicant has designed the parking lot to access both street frontages. In order to accommodate this traffic flow pattern, the location of the building is constrained to one side of the lot. When setback, parking and vegetative cover requirements are considered, the only option to meet all these requirements would be to reduce the building size. Reduction of the building’s size would reduce the leasable area and result in a significant long-term expense. In this situation, the applicant has requested a shorter loading zone in order to best accommodate the demonstrated loading zone need and place it near the front entrance. By requiring an unnecessarily large loading zone, the zone will be inconveniently located and rarely, if ever be used. The applicant has designed the project to accommodate loading needs within site constraints. Requiring installation of an unutilized loading zone and therefore, reducing the building’s leasable area, constitutes an unreasonable expense.

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 criterion #5 has been met.

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

As mentioned above, experience has indicated that most deliveries to the Bureau of Vital Statistics are by mail vehicles and standard automobiles. Since the applicant proposes to designate a loading zone near the front entrance, mail delivery vehicles will be likely to use this space. This will reduce the incidents of double parking and therefore increase public safety. Therefore, approval of this variance will result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood.

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

 

JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

Length of the loading zone does not relate to any aspects of the Juneau Coastal Management Program.

 

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 Juneau Coastal Management Program?

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 to reduce the required loading zone length from 30 to 17 feet.