DATE: May 5, 1998
TO: Planning Commission
FROM: Tim Maguire, Planner
FILE NO.: SUB2000-00046
PROPOSAL: A plat amendment to remove the easement for public improvements shown on Lot 9, Gastineau Subdivision, to eliminate an existing building encroachment.
Applicant: Alfonso O. Soriano
Property Owner: Alfonso O. Soriano
Property Address: 187 Gastineau Avenue
Legal Description: Lot 9, Gastineau Subdivision
Parcel Code No.: 1-C07-0-BOQ-001-0
Site Size: 6,836.90 square feet
Zoning: D-10 Multifamily
Utilities: CBJ Sewer and Water
Access: Gastineau Avenue
Existing Land Use: Multifamily Dwelling, 6-plex
Surrounding Land Use: North - Residential
South - Residential
East - Vacant
West - Mixed, Commercial / Residential
Much of the development on Gastineau Ave was constructed well before there were setback requirements or accurate placement of building in relation to property lines. This was not a problem until lending institutions became reluctant to finance the sale of homes found to be encroaching on neighboring properties or in the right of way. This was the situation with many of the dwellings on Gastineau Avenue. This problem came to a head in the eighties with property owners along Gastineau Avenue requesting street vacations or other types of relief.
The Assembly attempted to remedy this situation by passing Resolution 1154 in May of 1986, which stated that the CBJ recognizes the Gastineau Avenue right away to be 28 feet in width (See Attachment A). The actual width was unclear. More recent plats showed the right away to be 34 feet in width. It was in this six-foot area of difference that all the major building encroach-ments occurred. It was thought that passage of this resolution would alleviate the encroachment problems.
This resolution, however, was not completely successful. The 6-foot discrepancy between the CBJ recognized width of 28 feet and the platted width of 34 feet continued to cause property owners difficulty in securing financing. In 1989, an application was made to vacate this 6-foot strip of the Gastineau Avenue right of way. A vacation of the right of way would solve the encroachment problems but it would also permanently preclude the widening of Gastineau Avenue when reconstruction took place. The Planning Commission addressed this issue by approving the six-foot vacation with a condition that an easement be retained over the 6-foot vacated portion of the right of way, outside the foot print of existing buildings, for construction and/or maintenance of public improvements.
A plat was recorded which revised the property lines for this parcel and established the public improvement easement. The plat was called Gastineau Subdivision, . (See Attachments B1, B2, and B3). This action cleared up the encroachments but allowed for improvement to take place in areas where no buildings were located.
This applicants building was a 6-plex located on Lot 9 of Gastineau Subdivision. This building did not encroach into the right way, however it did not meet be current zoning setback requirements. When the owner proposed to do a complete renovation of the building it was determined that the existing location and density of the structure was "grandfathered" and therefore could be reconstructed on the current footprint and with the same number of dwellings. During reconstruction process, arctic entries for the stairways and third story balconies were added to the building. These arctic entries were not shown on the building permit but were identified on an as-built survey (See Attachment C). The arctic entry additions encroached into the easement for public improvements. The balcony additions, however, are not considered to be encroachments because of their third-story location. Rather than remove the arctic entries, the applicant has applied to amend the plat to remove the easement.
The arctic entries and balconies encroach into the frontyard zoning setbacks. A variance to reduce the required frontyard setback has been applied for, to address this situation (VAR2001-00046).
The requested action is to amend the Gastineau Avenue Subdivision by removing a portion of the existing easement for public improvements on Lot 9 of this subdivision. Although this proposal involves less than four lots, it is still handled through the major subdivision process- with the Planning Commission approval. This proposal involves a change to a plat provision (an ease-ment for public improvements) that was established by the Commission, and therefore, the Planning Commission must approve any amendment.
The issue with this proposal, and previous vacation requests, is weighing the needs of existing property owners versus public needs. The question in this case is whether this easement is needed to accommodate future roadway improvements. This question can now be answered because the improvements for Gastineau Avenue have been designed and the bid for construction awarded. These plans for the roadway reconstruction show that only a small portion of this easement on Lot 9 will be utilized for planned improvements. The Gastineau Avenue reconstruction project includes the addition of an asphalt sidewalk on the uphill side of the roadway and a small portion of this improvement will cross over the easement line. (See Attachment D) .
The CBJ Engineering Department, including the project manager for the reconstruction project has reviewed this proposed plat amendment and has no objection to the existing 6 foot easement for public improvements on Lot 9, Gastineau Subdivision being removed with the exception of the area for the sidewalk improvements. Since this will be a total reconstruction of Gastineau Avenue, there was also no long-term need identified for retaining the easement for future improvements.
The proposed development was reviewed for compliance with CBJ §49.70.900, the Juneau Coastal Management Program. The analysis reveals that the JCMP is not applicable to this development.
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 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 permit complete?
Yes. We find the application contains the information necessary to conduct a full review of the proposed development. The application submitted by the applicant, including the appropriate fees, substantially conforms to the requirements of CBJ code Chapters §49.15 and §49.35.
2. Is the proposed use appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses?
Yes. This proposed plat amendment and multifamily dwelling are uses appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses for a D-10 zone.
3. Will the proposed development comply with the other requirements of this chapter?
Yes. The proposed plat amendment will allow the existing development situation to comply with the requirements of this chapter, if a variance is also approved to reduce the minimum building setback requirements.
4. Will the proposed development materially endanger the public health or safety?
No. The proposed replat will vacate a portion of the existing easement for public improvements to help clear up existing building encroachment. No portion of the easement will be removed that is necessary for planned public improvements. There is no evidence to indicate that this action will materially endanger the public health or safety.
5. Will the proposed development substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area?
No. We have no evidence to indicate that the proposed amendment would substantially diminish the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighborhood. Staff is recommending that the proposed plat amendment delete only that portion of existing easement not needed for planned improvements to Gastineau Avenue. The plat revision will also allow for resolution of an existing building encroachments. A review and approval of a variance request will also be needed approval to allow these building additions to remain.
6. Will the proposed development be in general conformity with the land use plan, thoroughfare plan, or other officially adopted plans?
Yes. These development requests further policies identified in the CBJ Comprehensive Plan and otherwise conforms with other officially adopted plans.
Policy 2.9 It is the policy of the City and Borough of Juneau to facilitate the preservation and rehabilitation of existing housing;
Policy 5.5: It is the policy of the CBJ to require new residential developments to meet minimum criteria for overall site design.
7. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?
Not Applicable. Based on the preceding analysis, it is found that no provisions of the Juneau Coastal Management Plan apply to the proposed development.
We recommend that the Planning Commission adopt the director's findings and approve the request for a plat amendment to remove the easement for public improvements on Lot 9 Gastineau Subdivision subject to the following conditions:
1. The applicant shall submit an amended plat for Lot 9 Gastineau Subdivision which removes only that portion of the easement for public improvements not required for the improvements planned for in the current proposal to reconstruct Gastineau Avenue.
2. That this revised plat, be approved by the CBJ Engineering Department prior to recording.