DATE:             July 18, 2001

TO:                  Planning Commission

FROM:           Sylvia A. Kreel, Planner
                        Community Development Department

FILE NO.:      USE2001-00024 - Conditional Use

PROPOSAL: A conditional use permit for construction of a sanctuary addition and supporting facilities to an existing church.


Applicant:                         Tim Mearig

Property Owner:               Juneau Christian Center

Property Address:            8001 Glacier Highway, Juneau

Legal Description:            USS 1852

Parcel Code Number:      5-B14-0-102-001-0

Site Size:                         11.45 acres

Zoning:                            D5 - Single - Family/ Duplex Residential

Utilities:                           CBJ Water & Sewer

Access:                           Glacier Highway

Existing Land Use:          Church facility

Surrounding Land Use: North - Glacier Highway; Single-family residential; zoned D-5
                                    South - Egan Drive; Vacant; zoned RR
                                    East - Animal shelter; zoned D-15
                                    West - Yandukin Drive; Commercial; zoned LC


The applicant requests a conditional use permit for the expansion of a church and the supporting facilities. The submittal notes that the current facilities encompass approximately 40,065 square feet of floor space. Included within this square footage is a multi purpose room which serves as both the sanctuary and the gymnasium, a school wing, an office wing, foyer, pump house and 2 portable buildings. The current sanctuary has a seating capacity for 600 people. The existing parking is partially paved and has capacity for approximately 250 cars.

The applicant notes that the proposed addition will require removal of the existing lobby and office wing and will add approximately 38,500 square feet on two levels. A new sanctuary will be constructed with seating for 750 on the ground level and a balcony accommodating an additional 375 seats. Total capacity will be 1,125 seats. Additionally, new lobby space, office suite, and nursery wing will be included within the addition. The completed facility will total approximately 74,000 square feet. The plans show an expanded and reconfigured parking lot accommodating 312 parking spaces.

The applicant has indicated that future phases will include pre-school space, and a second floor to the school wing. However, these are not part of this conditional use permit. Future phases will require a separate conditional use permit.

Concurrent with this conditional use permit, the applicant is applying for a variance to allow the proposed church to have a height of 65 feet, where the code limits the height to 35 feet. (VAR2001-00018).


Project Site -
The subject property is a flat, 11.45-acre parcel. The total footprint of the proposed facility will measure approximately 6 acres, leaving approximately 5.45 acres undeveloped. The property is zoned D-5. Commercial development is located to both the east (Gastineau Humane Society) and west (Fred Meyer). The property is bordered by three primary streets, Egan Drive, Glacier Highway and Yandukin. There are 6 residential lots across Glacier Highway from the site. Views in to the property are filtered through mature evergreen and deciduous trees which line the property lines of the site. The trees measure over 35 feet in height.

Project Design -
Churches are often monumental facilities that through design and scale have an institutional feel, or the scale of a community facility. The proposed development will be just such a structure. As can be seen on the site plan, the primary addition will accommodate a 1,125 seat sanctuary, plus lobby and office area. The sanctuary addition is on the south side of the site and focused toward Egan Drive. A smaller addition will be constructed on the east side of the building and will augment the school. Most of the existing structures will be retained. The existing multi-purpose room, which currently serves as the sanctuary will continue to be used for gymnasium space.

The primary feature of the addition is the sanctuary or auditorium. It is designed with consideration for acoustics, sightlines and sight distance. The sanctuary includes seating for 1,125; a back stage area; projection room; a mechanical room; lighting; microphone room and catwalks to access the different features. To accommodate these features the height of the structure rises from 35 feet at the north end to 65 feet at the southern end. VAR2001-00018 evaluates the variance request to exceed the 35-foot height limit.

The existing structures are all one-story wood frame buildings on concrete foundations, with the exception of the two mobile type buildings. The new additions will be clad with enamel steel panel siding, 1-foot wide installed vertically. The applicant notes that the color will be a warm neutral color and that a stronger, accent color will be used on detail stripes, trim and the standing seam metal roofing.

A traffic study was prepared and submitted to DOT for this project. The analysis considered current and projected capacity of the church and the Average Daily Traffic (ADT) and Design Hourly Volume (DHV) for Glacier Highway and Yandukin Drive. The traffic generated is related to the capacity of the church and the number of parking spaces available. The capacity of the sanctuary will be nearly double. Therefore it would be reasonable to expect that the new facility will generate double the traffic at the peak hours and that peak traffic flows are concentrated around the time that people arrive and depart from services. The traffic study concludes that Glacier Highway can easily accommodate the anticipated increase in traffic. Sight distances for traffic approaching from both Lemon Creek area and Yandukin were also considered. These sight distances exceed the minimum required by ADOT/PF driveway standards for a 45-mph speed limit. The traffic study concludes the following:

"The proposed expansion in the Juneau Christian Center Facility will generate additional traffic particularly on a Sunday. There is ample excess capacity on Glacier highway to carry this additional traffic without any significant decrease in the level of service of Glacier Highway. The peak hour traffic flow into and out of the Juneau Christian Center does not coincide with the peak hour traffic flow anticipated on Glacier Highway. The DHV can be safely carried onto and off of Glacier Highway by the proposed driveways. The driveways can be built with sight distances well in excess of the required minimums. The driveway design and construction should be done in accordance with the AK DOT/PF driveway standards."

Both CDD and DOT/PF concur with the analysis.

Parking and Circulation -
The Land Use Code requires a church to provide a minimum of one parking space per every 4 auditorium seats. Other uses, such as the school, office and daycare facility do not require additional spaces. The applicant is planning on providing 312 parking spaces. With seating for 1,125 in the sanctuary, the parking will exceed what is required by 30 spaces. The site is currently served by 2 driveways off of Glacier highway. The entrance closest to the corner will be removed. A second entrance will be added further east along Glacier Highway. Pulling the entrance away from the corner will be an improvement to safety as reflected in the traffic analysis. Each parking space meets or exceeds the minimum dimensions needed to accommodate parking stalls and two-way drive aisles. Eight accessible parking stalls are required and are provided at the primary entry to the sanctuary.

The parking generally surrounds the facility on all sides. This results in several smaller parking areas, rather than one large lot. This configuration provides better access to the different parts of the facility and precludes large expanses of asphalt. The spaces are configured for easy accessibility, circulation and visibility, and have standard dimensions, and angles. Two driveways are provided to facilitate entrance and exiting form the site. Staff finds that the proposed layout facilitates safe and easy circulation, sufficient parking and a plan which minimizes large extents of asphalt.

The current parking configuration has approximately 30 cars more than necessary. It is typical for facilities of this size to provide a drop off area. This could easily be accommodated, if the applicant desires, without reducing the number of spaces below what is required.

The mature trees along the perimeter of the site will not be disturbed. They serve as a key component in screening the development from surrounding properties and in maintaining neighborhood harmony and property values. As such, it is important that the trees be retained. A condition has been included to this effect. Additionally, in several locations lawn areas will be provided between the structure and the parking lot. The eastern third of the property, approximately 3.8 acres, will remain untouched and in its current vegetated state.

The plans do not show any outdoor gathering areas. The existing playground areas will relocated east of the developed areas approximately to its current size. The primary activities will occur inside the building. It is not anticipated that they will generate noise audible beyond the property lines.

There are currently 2 pole-mounted lights in the parking lot. These will be removed and replaced with a series of pole mounted lights throughout the parking area as shown on the plan labeled EO.1. Additionally, floodlights will be directed toward the tower. The applicant verbally indicated that the lighting would be shielded so as to not extend beyond the parking lot area or beyond the tower. This is reflected in a recommended condition.

Public Health or Safety - There is no evidence to suggest an impact to public health and safety created by the proposed church expansion.

Provisions of the CBJ Building Code will be applied to ensure that the public safety and welfare will be preserved.

Signage - No additional signs are being proposed at this time.

Property Value or Neighborhood Harmony The properties to the east and west are commercial in nature, approximately 500 or more feet away from the development and screened by the existing vegetation. The proposed development should have no detrimental impact on these commercial developments.

The subject property is surrounded on three sides by streets which carry a high amount of commercial traffic. A large commercial building, Fred Meyer, is located across Yandukin to the west. These factors create a neighborhood with a commercial feel. However, the subject property and the properties across Glacier Highway are zoned D-5. There are 6 residential lots across Glacier Highway from which the property is partially visible. The large spruce trees along the property perimeter do offer some screening for all but two of the residences.

The primary addition is on the south side of the development away from the residences. However, at 65 feet it is likely that the sanctuary addition will be visible from some of the residential units and will likely block a portion of their mountain view and sun at certain times of the day. However, it will not entirely block the view or sun from any of the residences. The sanctuary addition is minimally 340 feet away from the residences, and in many instances further. The sanctuary roof slopes from approximately 35 feet at its most northern end up to a height of 65 feet at the south. The configuration of the slope and angle of the roofline will help to visually reduce the mass of the structure as viewed from the residences to the north.

Staff finds that due to the presence of the trees, the distance between the addition and the residences and the configuration of the roof, the proposed development will not have an impact on property values or neighborhood harmony in the area.

Conformity with Adopted Plans - The Comprehensive Plan Land Use Maps, Sub-area 5, shows the subject property classified for Urban/Low Density Residential, ULDR. This land use category is defined as

Urban/suburban residential land for detached single-family units, duplex and zero lot line units at densities of one to six units per acre; may include mobile homes where specifically permitted.

While not specifically addressed in the Comprehensive Plan, churches are often found in and are compatible with residential areas.

The proposed development complies with all provisions of the Land Use Code with the exception of the height, for which a variance is being sought.

Juneau Coastal Management Program (JCMP) The proposed project was reviewed for compliance with the JCMP. It was found that no provisions of the JCMP apply to the proposed project.


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;
2. Whether the proposed use is appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses; and,
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 in general conformity with the comprehensive plan, thoroughfare plan, or other officially adopted plans.

Per CBJ 49.15.330 (e)(1)(A through C), Review of Director's Determinations, the director makes the following findings on the proposed development:

    1.   Is the application for the requested Conditional Use permit complete?

Yes. We find the application contains the information necessary to conduct a full review of the proposed operations. The application submittal by the applicant, including the appropriate fees, substantially conforms to the requirements of CBJ code Chapters 49.15.

  1. Is the proposed use appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses?
  2. Yes. Pursuant to Section 49.25.300.5.200, churches, synagogues and temples are permissible in the D-5 zoning district.

  3. Will the proposed development comply with the other requirements of this chapter?
  4. Yes. The proposed development will comply with other requirements of this chapter. Notice was provided in the Juneau Empire under Your Municipality which ran on July 13, 2001. A public notice sign was posted on the site at least 14 days prior to the meeting and notice was mailed to owners of record of all property within 500 feet of the subject property.

  5. Will the proposed development materially endanger the public health or safety?

No. As reflected in the analysis, there is no evidence to suggest that this project would materially endanger the public health or safety.

  1. Will the proposed development substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area?
  2. No. As discussed in the analysis, the neighborhood is made up of commercial and limited residential development. Due to the configuration of the structure, the vegetation and the distance between the subject property and the residences, the proposed development will not substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area, provided conditions as proposed are applied to the project.

  3. Will the proposed development be in general conformity with the land use plan, thoroughfare plan, or other officially adopted plans?
  4. Yes. As discussed in the analysis, the proposed development will be in general conformity with officially adopted plans.

  5. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?

Not Applicable. There are no provisions of the JCMP which apply to this proposal.


We recommend that the Planning Commission adopt the director's analysis and findings and

grant the requested Conditional Use permit. We recommend the approval be made subject to the following conditions:

  1. The existing trees along the perimeter of the site shall be retained, with the exception of those trees which will need to be removed to accommodate the new entrance driveway.
  2. The lighting shall be shielded so as to not create glare or extend beyond the parking area or tower.