DATE: April 3, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Teri Camery, Planner
Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2000-00040

PROPOSAL: A variance to build a one-story detached garage with a 5 foot side-yard setback where 10 feet is required

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant: Deborah Pusich

Property Owner: Deborah Pusich

Property Address: 4471 Mountainside Drive

Legal Description: Mountainside Estates Block D Lot 10B

Parcel Code Number: 7-B10-0-113-009-2

Site Size: 7,949 square feet

Zoning: D-5 single-family/duplex/residential

Utilities: CBJ Water & Sewer

Access: Mountainside Drive

Existing Land Use: Residential

Surrounding Land Use: North – Mountainside Drive

South – private alley

East - D-5 residential

West - D-5 residential

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant requests a variance to construct a one-story detached garage 5 feet from the side-yard setback where 10 feet is required. The proposed garage is 384 square feet with dimensions of 16 feet by 24 feet, and approximately 14 feet high. The garage would be located near the southwest border of the lot (see as-built survey, Attachment A). The applicant plans to remove the existing portable shed and place the garage in its location (see applicant letters, Attachment C and E, and photographs, Attachment F). The applicant’s goal is to build a garage for one vehicle with additional storage space, and have an outside space remaining next to the garage to park a boat.

The existing home is an attached home as part of zero-lot development, which requires a 10 foot side-yard setback. A detached home in this zone requires a lesser side-yard setback of 5 feet. The lot has road access to the northeast from Mountainside Drive and from the southeast from a private alley known as Venus Lane. The home includes an attached single-car garage at the common property line of the zero lot development.

The property drops approximately 8 feet in elevation below the existing residence to the alley. The level portion at bottom of the slope currently has a shed, which would be removed for construction of the garage, a cement porch pad level with the ground, and a fenced dog yard. There is slight slope to the center boundary of the zero lot line.

BACKGROUND

In September, 2000, the applicant applied, through the minor subdivision process, for a boundary adjustment to the property line between the applicant’s lot and the adjoining lot to the northwest, Lot 11A. The boundary adjustment widened the southwest corner of the applicant’s lot where it had previously narrowed, and increased the applicant’s lot size from 7,638 square feet to 9,949 square feet (see plat, Attachment B). This boundary adjustment was completed and recorded on March 15, 2001.

ANALYSIS

The only suitable location for a second garage is in the leveled area at the rear of the lot with access from the alleyway. The 8 foot drop in elevation below the home does not affect the placement of the garage in relation to the side-yard setback. According to the stated dimensions, constructing the proposed garage an additional five feet away to comply with setbacks would place the garage two feet from the porch steps. Placement within required setbacks would also push the garage too tightly against the porch and dog yard to allow space for parking a boat.

The adjacent property owners to the northwest, whose property is nearest to the proposed garage, do not object to the variance request (see Attachments D and G) and adjusted their property line to accommodate the garage proposal in the subdivision noted above. This property owner has a single-family home approximately 30 feet from the side property line. The owner of the adjacent zero-lot property has written that the proposed garage will have a greater impact on her view if it is placed within the required setback (see Attachment H). Two other neighbors have stated that they have no objection to the proposed development (see Attachments I and J).

Due to the dominance of single-family homes in the neighborhood, which have five foot side-yard setbacks, the proposed garage would generally conform with the pattern of development in the area. Zero-lot developments are required to have 10 foot side-yard setbacks to offset the visual impact of the greater building mass. Staff site visits to this area indicate that the majority of homes have two-car garages with additional outside parking areas for boats and vehicles, particularly along this alleyway. The proposed garage would be scarcely visible from Mountainside Drive due to the 8 foot slope of the property.

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.

The proposed development was reviewed for:

  1. hardship and practical difficulties
  2. resulting from an extraordinary situation or unique physical feature affecting only a specific parcel of property, rendering it difficult to carry out the provisions of Title 49.

Our review considered the area of the lot as well as the development pattern of the neighborhood. The lot is 2,949 square feet larger than the minimum lot size for this zone, and the narrowing of the lot toward the rear of the property has been modified by the recently completed boundary adjustment. The arrangement and dimensions of the lot are similar to neighboring areas. The slope of the lot is not extraordinary or unique, and does not affect the side-yard setback for which an adjustment is requested. Staff finds no additional extraordinary situations or unique physical features affecting development of the lot. We therefore find no evidence of hardship or practical difficulty resulting from an extraordinary situation or unique physical feature. We conclude that this variance request does not meet the Grounds for Variances, as established in CBJ 49.20.250 (b). This code provision is required to be met prior to a Board of Adjustment application consideration.

If the Board of Adjustment finds that 49.210.250(b) has been met, 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.

    The relaxation applied for would give substantial relief to the property owner and allow construction of the second one-car garage while allowing space to park a boat. Reducing the width of the garage from 16 feet to 11 feet would eliminate the need for a variance, but the garage would then by prohibitively small except for small vehicles. Placing the proposed garage five feet farther away to comply with setbacks would put the garage close to the porch steps and eliminate a portion of the required area for parking a boat. A lesser relaxation which reduces the width of the garage by two feet and places the garage 7 feet from the property line would put the garage 6 feet from the porch steps and allow adequate space for parking a boat. The relaxation would be consistent with justice to other property owners because the majority of homes in this neighborhood have two-car garages and additional parking space. Therefore staff finds that the relaxation, or the lesser relaxation suggested, would give substantial relief to the property owner and be more consistent with justice to other property owners. 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.

  • The intent of Title 49 is established in Section 49.05.100 Purpose and Intent. Those sections, which are applicable to the requested variance, are as follows:

    1.To achieve the goals and objectives and implement the policies of the Juneau Comprehensive Plan and the coastal management program;

    2.To ensure that future growth and development in the city and borough is in accord with the values of its residents;

    3.To identify and secure, for present and future residences, the beneficial impacts of growth while minimizing the negative impacts;

    4.To ensure that future growth is of the appropriate type, design, and location, and is served by a proper range of public services and facilities such as water, sewage, and electrical distribution systems, transportation, schools, parks and other public requirements, and in general to promote public health, safety and general welfare;

    5.To provide adequate open space for light and air; and

    6.To recognize the economic value of land and encourage its proper and beneficial use.

    The proposed variance does not violate any of the stated goals, and specifically supports goal #5, to provide adequate space for light and air. Due to the predominance of five foot setbacks in the neighborhood and the location of the garage in the rear of the lot from the alley, hidden from the main road, the proposed variance does provide adequate open space for light and air. Neighboring property owners have written letters stating their lack of opposition to the proposal, and staff finds no additional impacts to public safety and welfare. Therefore this criterion is met.

    3. That the authorization of the variance will not injure nearby property.

    The residence of the adjoining property owner is approximately 30 feet from the side property line. Adjacent property to the rear of the home is located across from the private alleyway. Both of these property owners have submitted letters stating that they do not object to the variance (see Attachments D, G, and I). No evidence indicates that the authorization of the variance will injure nearby property. This criterion is met.

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

    A garage is an allowable use in the D-5 zone. Nor are there any restrictions regarding construction of a second garage. As such the variance does not authorize uses not allowed in the district involved. 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;

  • No. The owner currently has a single-car garage attached to the dwelling, and additional parking space in the rear of the lot.

    (B) 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;

    No. A majority of homes in the area have two-car garages with additional parking space. However these developments do conform with setbacks and other code standards. Therefore staff finds that compliance with standards would not unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property in a manner consistent with the scale, amenities, and features of existing development in the neighborhood.

    (C) Be unnecessarily burdensome because unique physical features of the property render compliance with the standards unreasonably expensive;

    No. A unique physical feature of the property is the 8 foot slope from behind the residence. However, we do not find this feature to be "unique." This feature does not affect the placement of the garage or prohibit placement of the garage within the required side-yard setbacks.

  • or

  • (D) Because of pre-existing 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.

    No. The subject parcel does not have any known pre-existing non-conforming conditions.

  • Staff determines that this request does not meet any of the subcriterion. Therefore, this criterion is not met.

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

    The adjacent zero-lot property owner has written a letter stating that placing the proposed garage within proposed setbacks will impact her view, while placing it at the five-foot setback line which requires a variance will not (see Attachment H). Therefore staff determines that a grant of the variance would results in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood. This criterion is met.

     

    JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

    Staff has reviewed the development and found that no enforceable provisions of the JCMP apply.

    FINDINGS

    CBJ 49.20.240, Board of Adjustment Action, states that the Board of Adjustment shall hear all variance requests and shall either approve, conditionally approve, modify or deny the request based on the criteria in CBJ 49.20.250.

    Under CBJ 49.20.220, Scheduling and Fee, the director makes the following determination:

    1. Is the application for the requested variance complete?

    Yes. We find the application contains the information necessary to conduct a full review of the proposed operations. The application submitted by the applicant, including the appropriate fees, substantially conform to the requirements of CBJ code Chapters 49.15. Additionally, notice was provided in the Juneau Empire under Your Municipality, which ran on Friday, March 30, 2001. Notice was mailed to owners of record of all property within 500 feet of the subject property.

    Under CBJ 49.70.900 (b)(3), General Provisions, the director makes the following Juneau Coastal Management Program consistency determination:

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

    Not applicable.

    3. Does the variance as requested, meet the criteria of Section 49.20.250 Grounds for Variances?

    No. Based on the preceding evaluation, the requested variance meets does not meet criterion 5 of Section 49.20.250, nor does the requested variance address hardship or practical difficulties resulting from an extraordinary situation or unique physical feature affecting only a specific parcel of property.  

    RECOMMENDATION

    We recommend that the Board of Adjustment adopt the staff analysis and director’s findings, and deny the requested variance.