DATE:             September 19, 2001

TO:                  Planning Commission

FROM:           Chris Beanes, Planner
                        Community Development Department

FILE NO.:      USE2001-00032 - Conditional Use

PROPOSAL: A conditional use permit to provide temporary boarding for 20-25 horses from May through September.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant:                Montana Creek Tours, LLC

Property Owner:      Glacier Lands, Inc.

Property Address:    5500 Montana Creek Road

Legal Description:    USS 2079 FR

Parcel Code Number:4-B29-0-115-002-1

Site Size:                   3.4 Acres

Zoning:                     D1 - Single Family / Duplex Residential

Utilities:                    CBJ - Water & Sewer

Access:                    Montana Creek Road

Existing Land Use:   The site is an old gravel mine. There are no structures on the site.

Surrounding Land Use: North - D-1, Single-Family/Duplex Residential
                                    South - D-1, Single-Family/Duplex Residential
                                    East - D-1, Single-Family/Duplex Residential
                                    West - RR Rural Reserve

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant requests a Conditional Use Permit for the development of a seasonal horse stabling facility. (Labeled as SITE A, on Attachment 1). A conditional use was applied for this project previously (USE99-00070), and approved the use for 16-20 horses. The change to the existing conditional use is to allow the applicant an increase in horses, to 20-25 horses. In addition, the previous conditional use was valid for 2 years, necessitating the current conditional use permit request. The applicant is requesting a conditional use permit to extend the use until 2009.

The facility would be in operation May through September each year. A solar-powered electric fence will be used to contain the horses and a 30-foot by 50-foot temporary structure with a galvanized steel pole frame and a vinyl cover will be provided on the site. A manure pile will be established on the site between existing dirt mounds. The mounds will contain the manure and prevent runoff (Attachment 8). These features will be installed each spring and removed each fall.

A second stabling area will be established for day use only at the beginning of the non-maintained portion of the Montana Creek Road. (Labeled as SITE B, on Attachment 1).

BACKGROUND

The horses will be used for horseback riding tours for Montana Creek Tours L.L.C. The tour will be on the Montana Creek Road on a portion which is not accessible by cars. The entire Montana Creek Road is a 100-foot wide Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) right of-way. The last 1.5 miles of the road are no longer maintained and have been blocked off to vehicular traffic. The horseback tour will be along this portion of the road. (See Attachment 1).

The horses will be transported in a horse trailer to the turnaround area just before the end of the maintained portion of the Montana Creek Road (See ATTACHMENT 1, TURN AROUND) and walked over the existing bridge to the proposed sheltered area (SITE B) each morning of operation. The horseback riders will be dropped off at the parking area at the end of the maintained road (see Attachment 1, PARKING AREA) and join the horses.

The clients will ride for approximately 1 hour, 15 minutes before returning to the drop off point. Two to three horseback riding tours will be provided per day. The tours will be run primarily Tuesday through Friday. There may be an occasional weekend tour. The applicant plans to provide a porta-potty and a temporary canopy type shelter at the start of the non-maintained section of the road (Attachment 1, SITE B). Both would be within DOT’s right-of-way. The bathroom facilities will be available for public use. The horses will be hitched at this site in between trips.

DOT has issued a permit (ATTACHMENT 2) for the operation of the horseback riding tours on the non-maintained section of the road. The permit lists 15 conditions for the horseback riding operation. The permit conditions include, but are not limited to animal waste guidelines, trail maintenance contributions and hours of operation.

The Mendenhall Watershed Partnership and Trail Mix received a grant to do trail maintenance during the summer of 2000 on the same stretch of right-of-way the applicant intends to use for his tours. They have cleaned out the drainage ditches and repaired portions of the road that were damaged by erosion. The applicant worked cooperatively with AK Department of Fish & Game, and the Juneau Audubon Society on the previous maintenance issues on this portion of the road.

The applicant has indicated a willingness to participate in trail maintenance and repair. Additionally, the applicant has indicated that he will clean up the manure on the road after each day of use and dispose of it at the stabling site, SITE A. Comments received from James King , director of Trail Mix, has indicated a positive response towards the applicant’s efforts in keeping the trail clear of manure, and that the applicant has been diligent in complying with the conditions of the previous conditional use permit, regarding manure and maintenance issues.

The CBJ Parks and Recreation Department has been evaluating use of city trails for commercial ventures, and has recommendations which will be brought to the Assembly for adoption. The recommendations document titled "Commercial Use of Trails, recommendations by the Trails Working Group", from June 2001 is an overview of some of the most popular trails in Juneau, and includes plans for management of these trails. In an effort to minimize conflicts between local and tourist use, commercial use of some of the more popular trails has been limited to daytime and weekday use only. Conditions imposed from the DOT permit on hours of operation for the use of the right-of-way are consistent with the recommendations from the CBJ Parks document for the DOT ROW on Montana Creek (Attachment 3).


ANALYSIS

Project Site -The primary stabling site (SITE A) is an old gravel extraction site. High berms and mature vegetation exist around the perimeter. The berms will almost entirely screen the stabling area from the street. Dirt berms currently exist on the site. These will be used to contain the manure, and prevent any run-off from the manure pile (ATTACHMENT 4).

Project Design - The applicant intends on using the stabling area seasonally. As such, all structures will be temporary in nature. A building permit is required for the structure prior to its installation. The manure will be stored in a single area, on site. It will be contained by berms made of the existing stock piled soil. The area that will hold the horses during the day, in between trips (SITE B), will be cleaned of manure each day. The manure from this site and the trail will be stored on SITE A. At the end of the season the manure pile will be used for composting on other sites. The applicant intends on approaching the community garden, located on Montana Creek road, about use of the manure for this purpose.

Traffic - The area to the south and east is zoned D-1. The areas to the north and west are zoned RR. Two shooting ranges and approximately half a dozen homes exist between SITE A and the start of the tour. There is a minimal amount of residential traffic plus traffic associated with use of the gun ranges and the trail system on the Montana Creek Road. It is anticipated that 4 employees will be accessing the stabling site. Additionally, the horses will be transported to the trail head in the morning, in 2 loads, and will return after all the tours for the day are over. At 2-3 horseback riding tours a day, it can be anticipated that there will be 4-6 van trips per day transporting riders, in addition to 6 trips transporting horses. This is a relatively small number of vehicle trips over the course of a day.

DOT is responsible for evaluating use of the non-maintained portion of the road.

Parking and Circulation - Employee parking will be provided within the 4.2 acre site, SITE A. Customer parking will be provided at the end of the maintained road (ATTACHMENT 1, PARKING). While open to others, the tours will be primarily catering to the cruise ship passengers, who will be arriving as a group in a van.

Noise - There is minimal noise associated with the stabling of horses. The existing berm and vegetation will buffer any noises generated.

Public Health or Safety - The applicant intends to contain all of the manure from the road and from SITE B in a stockpile site on SITE A. As previously noted, the stock pile area will be contained by soil berms. Provided the manure is properly contained, staff does not find any other evidence to suggest an impact to public health and safety. A letter from Steve Robertson with the Gastineau Humane Society (ATTACHMENT 5) contains concerns about the ability of Animal Control Officers to be able to handle situations when a horse becomes stray from the site. A protocol should be set up with Gastineau Humane Society for situations such as these. A condition will address the concern raised by Gastineau Humane Society.

Property Value or Neighborhood Harmony -The properties immediately adjacent to the proposed stabling area are large tracts of land with minimal development. The closest residential lot is approximately .25 miles away from SITE A and further from SITE B. There are large 6-12 foot high berms with mature evergreen trees which visually screen the SITE A stabling area. As well, the berms and vegetation will reduce odors and noise from impacting the surrounding neighborhood. There is no evidence to suggest that the proposed stabling will diminish property values. There is no evidence to suggest that the stabling will impact neighborhood harmony.

There is the potential for conflict between trail users. The Montana Creek Road is a popular summer time recreation spot for hikers, bicyclists, fishermen and for All Terrain Vehicle use. The applicant has limited his tours to primarily daytime and weekday use. This will help reduce conflicts. The use of the road and potential conflicts will be an element for DOT to consider. The Trails Advisory Group and the Tourist Advisory Committee and Trail Mix have been notified. Their concerns are primarily related to road maintenance. These groups intend to direct their comments to DOT.

Conformity With Adopted Plans -The proposed use is in conformance with the CBJ Comprehensive Plan. The area to be used for horse stabling is designated for "Resource Development" (RD). The Comprehensive Plan defines the RD land use category as:

Land to be managed primarily to identify and conserve natural resources until specific land uses are identified and developed; minimal residential development may occur. Uses may include small-scale, visitor-oriented, seasonal recreational facilities

Juneau Coastal Management Program - The proposed development was reviewed for compliance with CBJ §49.70.900, the Juneau Coastal Management Program. The horse manure should be removed daily from the roadway and from SITE B. As well, at SITE B, the horses should be stabled a minimum of 50 feet away from the Ordinary High Water of Montana Creek. This is important in order to minimize impacts to vegetation, erosion of the creek bank and an increase in nutrient load caused by manure. Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) has concerns regarding erosion and run-off into Montana Creek along sections of the non-maintained road. (See Attachment4).

 

FINDINGS

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 in 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 conditional use permit complete?

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

2. Is the proposed use appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses?

Yes. The requested permit is appropriate subject to a Conditional Use Permit, according to the Table of Permissible Uses. The permit is listed at CBJ §49.25.300 section 14.700: Commercial or Private Stabling of Farm Animals.

3. Will the proposed development comply with the other requirements of this chapter?

Yes. The proposed development complies with the other requirements of this chapter.

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

No. No evidence is found to indicate that locating a temporary stabling area at the proposed sites would materially endanger the public health or safety. As discussed in the Analysis, the applicant has sufficiently addressed how he will contain the manure. . A letter from Steve Robertson with the Gastineau Humane Society (Attachment 5) contains concerns about the ability of Animal Control Officers to be able to handle situations when a horse becomes stray from the site. A protocol should be set up with Gastineau Humane Society for situations such as these. A condition will address the concern raised by Gastineau Humane Society.

5. Will the proposed development substantially decrease the value of or be out of harmony with property in the neighboring area?

No. No evidence is found to indicate that locating a temporary horse stabling area at site A will substantially decrease the value or be out of harmony with the property in the neighborhood. As noted in the Analysis section, this site is adequately buffered to mitigate any impacts on surrounding properties. The stabling area on DOT property (SITE B) is adjacent to Montana Creek. As discussed in the Analysis section, the horses should be kept at least 50 feet away from Montana Creek.

6. Will the proposed development not be in general conformity with the land use plan, thoroughfare plan, or other officially adopted plans?

No. Based on the preceding staff analysis, it is found that the proposed development is in general conformity with the CBJ Comprehensive Plan.

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

Yes. Based on the preceding staff analysis, the proposed horse stabling complies with the Juneau Coastal Management Program. Conditions have been included which will help protect Montana Creek and associated habitat.

 

CONCLUSION

Staff concludes that the stabling of the horses will not have a significant impact on the area and will meet all of the necessary findings discussed above. However, staff also finds that use of the DOT right-of-way for the horseback riding tours does have potential for impact to Montana Creek. However, ultimately, the use of the road is under DOT’s jurisdiction. Staff also finds that the unique nature of the operation, stabling on private property, and tours on public property, necessitates a condition on the timeline of the operation. A change in operator ownership, or a change in the ownership of the public right-of-way, or both, could modify the aspects of the permit which have been reviewed at this point in time. Additionally, unforseen changes in the tourist industry could change the aspects of the operation in the future. For these reasons the conditional use timeline has been imposed on this permit.

 

RECOMMENDATION

We recommend that the Planning Commission adopt the director's analysis and findings and grant the requested Conditional Use Permit. The permit would allow the development of a temporary horse stabling site. The recommendation is made subject to the following conditions:

1. The manure shall be picked up from the road and SITE B daily and stored on SITE A.

2. The manure pile on SITE A shall be bermed in such a way that there shall be no run-off beyond the limits of the storage area.

3. While stabled at site B, the horses shall be kept a minimum of 50 feet from the Ordinary High Water of Montana Creek.

4. The applicant will maintain an agreement with the Gastineau Humane Society on the protocol of handling stray horses from the site. The agreement with GHS shall include 24 hour contact information for the caretakers, adequate access to the site and how and where to return the horse/s at large by Animal Control.

5. Conditional Use Permit USE 2001-00032 shall expire September 30, 2009.