DATE:         October 12, 2001

TO:               Planning Commission

FROM:         Greg Chaney, Planner
                      Community Development Department

FILE NO.:     USE2001-00038

PROPOSAL: A Conditional Use permit for a 6,500 square foot Hunter Education Facility with indoor shooting range.

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant:                    Tony Yorba

Property Owner:          Juneau Gun Club

Property Address:        1/2 Mile Montana Creek Road

Legal Description:        USS 10242, ASLS 98-6

Parcel Code Number:   4-B29-0-140-001-0

Site Size:                        80,000 Square Feet

Zoning:                          RR - Rural Reserve

Utilities:                         Electricity, No Other Utilities

Access:                         Montana Creek Road, Juneau

Existing Land Use:         Trap Range

Surrounding Land Use: North - Rural Reserve, CBJ Natural Area Park
                                    South - Rural Reserve, Montana Creek Road
                                    East - D-1 Residential, Gravel Pit
                                    West - Rural Reserve, CBJ Natural Area Park

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant requests a conditional use permit for the development of an indoor shooting range and hunter education facility.


BACKGROUND

The proposed facility is located on an 80,000 square foot site on Montana Creek Road (Attachment 1). The adjacent land uses include the Juneau Gun Club, Glacier Lands Gravel Operation, Community Garden and CBJ Natural Area Parkland. The Juneau Gun Club’s trap shooting facility consists of 5 trap shooting stations, a clubhouse, caretaker residence and parking lot. To the east is a 64 acre parcel which hosts the Glacier Lands Gravel Operation and is zoned D-1. While the current character of the gravel extraction operation is more industrial than residential in nature, it is possible that residential development could take place there in the future. For this reason it is imperative to maintain the existing buffer between the trap range and the residentially zoned property to the east.

A trap shooting facility adjacent to the proposed indoor range site has been operated by the Juneau Gun Club since 1977. Prior to the City and Borough of Juneau (CBJ) selecting the land in 1980 as part of its municipal land entitlement, the USFS had issued a special permit to CBJ which in turn leased the site to the Juneau Gun Club. The Montana Creek land selection included the proposed site for the indoor shooting range as well as the existing trap range, Community Garden, Hank Harmon Rifle Range and the archery range. The adjacent Juneau Gun Club and Trap Range has a 25 year lease which was approved under CSP2000-00015. Of concern to this proposal is Condition #1 of CSP2000-00015 which states:

Any removal of trees within the existing forested buffer on the lease site during the term of the lease must be approved by the Planning Commission.

This condition was put in place because the adjacent property to the east is zoned D-1 residential and the existing stand of trees provides a buffer between the trap range and potential residential development. The current application will require some tree removal however, the applicant has attempted to design the structure in such a fashion as to minimize disturbance to the vegetative buffer.


ANALYSIS

Project Site – Currently the site is covered with a stand of old growth timber (Attachment 1). The existing gravel driveway runs through the site and will provide shared access from Montana Creek Road. This driveway forks near the front of the proposed building. The west branch provides access to the Juneau Gun Club Facility and the east branch is a small gravel drive, which runs parallel to the front of the proposed building site. To the east lies the active gravel operation, which is zoned residential and has the potential to host residential development in the future.

Project Design - A 6,500 square foot building will house the combined indoor shooting range and hunter education facility (Attachments 2, 3, 4 & 5). Seven lanes for indoor handgun and small-bore rifle shooting will be provided. A classroom, restrooms and storage area have also been incorporated into the design. An unusually large mechanical room is associated with this facility since the shooting range will require significant air handling equipment. Air quality will be insured inside the building by a mechanical system, which will draw air downrange and exhaust it beyond the bullet trap. Prior to discharging air outside of the building, it will be processed through a series of filters to remove potential lead contamination.

The shooting range will consist of a concrete shell, which will protect against ricochets and lead dust collection. A steel bullet trap will be located down range. This will consist of steel baffles that remove a bullet’s energy before allowing bullets to fall into a trap where they can be harvested for recycling.

In the future, an archery range may be added to the side of the facility. Since this will be another phase for the project, a separate Conditional Use Permit will be required for the archery range addition at the time it is proposed. This staff report will not further address this potential addition since plans for it are only conceptual at this time.

Traffic - Increased traffic generated by the facility is not anticipated to be out of character with existing traffic on Montana Creek Road. Some of the users of this range will probably be diverted from the existing small-bore facility at the Hank Harmon range located further down Montana Creek Road.

Parking and Circulation – The CBJ §49.40.210(a) "Table of Parking Standards" does not address shooting range parking requirements. In this case, the applicant suggests that the building’s anticipated occupancy be used to determine required parking and not the building’s size since much of the building will be unoccupied empty space. Due to safety and noise concerns, the classroom and shooting range will not be operated concurrently. Up to twenty students may occupy the classroom at one time. One parking space per 4 seats is specified for High School or College facilities in the Parking Table. Using this standard, 5 parking spaces would be required. When the range is in operation there may be up to seven marksmen/women shooting, one instructor and one range supervisor for a total of nine people. If no one car pools, the total anticipated parking requirement for the shooting range is not anticipated to exceed 9 stalls. The applicant plans to provide 10 parking spaces which exceeds the anticipated demand, so parking requirements will be met. Some additional "over flow" parking can be accommodated on an existing gravel area across the driveway from the proposed building.

Ten parking spaces will be provided along the east side of the driveway. One of these sites will be required to be a "Van Accessible" space as specified by CBJ§49.40.210(3).

The applicant proposes to improve and widen the existing driveway to 24 feet, which also provides access to the Juneau Gun Club. The existing gate will be moved so that the indoor range can operate independently from the existing gun club’s hours.

Noise - Due to the building’s heavy construction, little if any noise related to the indoor range is anticipated to reach neighboring properties. Unfortunately, the adjacent outdoor trap range generates significant noise. Currently this noise is somewhat buffered by the existing stand of old growth vegetation on the site. Some of these trees will have to be removed in order to construct the building. The adjacent residentially zoned property is presently being used for a sand and gravel operation so the noise buffer is not as critical in the short term, however it is possible that this property could host residential development in the future. The proposed building will block noise along its length and may provide a better buffer than the existing vegetation. Unfortunately trees will have to be cleared around the perimeter of the build for construction. Therefore it is imperative that disturbances to existing vegetation be minimized. Disturbed areas should be replanted with native evergreen species, such as spruce and hemlock trees, which grow tall at maturity.

Public Health or Safety - Bullets are not anticipated to escape from the site due to the nature of the indoor range’s construction. Exhaust from the building is not anticipated to be problematic if HEPA exhaust system filters are properly maintained.

Property Value or Neighborhood Harmony - Currently the lot contains an outdoor trap range. The proposed use will be far less disruptive to surrounding properties than the existing facility. Property to the east is zoned residential but is currently being used for a sand and gravel operation. By the time the neighboring property to the east is developed for residential purposes, replanted trees probably will have grown to a density sufficient to buffer noise from the adjacent open-air range.

Conformity With Adopted Plans – The project is consistent with the provisions of the CBJ Comprehensive Plan. Policy 4.16 states, in part:

It is the policy of the CBJ to continue providing quality dispersed outdoor recreational opportunities, and to acquire and develop sufficient local parks and recreational facilities in locations convenient to all areas of the CBJ.

Juneau Coastal Management Program – This proposal was reviewed for consistency with the Juneau Coastal Management Plan and no policies of the plan were found to apply.


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 combination of a hunter education facility and indoor shooting range is not described in the Table of Permissible Uses. The closest designation in the Land Use Code is a National Guard Center, which usually includes a shooting range. It is therefore proposed that this facility be considered as the equivalent of a National Guard Center. Given this determination, the requested permit is appropriate according to the Table of Permissible Uses. A Conditional Use Permit is required for a National Guard Center as listed at CBJ §49.25.300, Section 15.400 for the Rural Reserve zoning district.

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. Notice was provided in the Juneau Empire under "Your Municipality" which ran on October 12, 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.

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

No. The proposed facility will contain stray bullets and exhaust from the facility will be purified prior to discharging into the atmosphere if the exhaust filtration system is maintained.

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

No. The existing trap shooting facility already hosts a shooting facility at the site. This facility will complement the existing use on the site without the disturbances associated with outdoor shooting.

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

Yes. The project is consistent with the provisions of the CBJ Comprehensive Plan. Policy 4.16 states, in part:

It is the policy of the CBJ to continue providing quality dispersed outdoor recreational opportunities, and to acquire and develop sufficient local parks and recreational facilities in locations convenient to all areas of the CBJ.

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

Not Applicable. This proposal was reviewed for consistency with the Juneau Coastal Management Plan and no policies of the plan were found to apply.


RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended 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 6,500 square foot indoor shooting range and hunter education facility. The approval is subject to the following conditions:


1. Prior to a Certificate of Occupancy, disturbed areas shall be planted with native evergreen species, such as spruce and hemlock trees, which will grow tall at maturity. If planting is not possible prior to a Certificate of Occupancy, sufficient bond shall be posted to ensure installation of proper plants within one year.

2. The parking lot shall have a minimum of 9 parking spaces, one of which must be a "Van Accessible" parking space.

3. During operation of the facility, the exhaust filtration system shall be operated and maintained in compliance with manufacture’s recommended procedures. The exhaust system shall also comply with applicable air quality regulations.