DATE: February 20, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Teri Camery, Planner
Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2001-00003

PROPOSAL: A variance to allow a setback of 10 feet where a 17.5 foot setback is required for construction of a detached two-story garage with living space on the second floor.


Applicant: George and Lyn Campbell

Property Owner: George and Lyn Campbell

Property Address: 17090 Glacier Hwy

Legal Description: USS 3267 L 41 FR

Parcel Code Number: 8-B34-0-108-011-0

Site Size: 35,053 square feet

Zoning: D-1 single-family/duplex residential

Utilities: Septic On-Site Sewer

Access: Glacier Highway

Existing Land Use: Single-family dwelling

Surrounding Land Use: North - residential

South - residential

East - residential

West -Glacier Highway


The applicant proposes construction of a two-story garage with living space on the second floor, 10 feet from the front-yard setback where a 17.5-foot setback is required. The second story would include two bedrooms and a family room while the first story would include a garage area and bathroom (See Applicant Exhibit C). This lot has a front-yard setback on three sides, one from Glacier Highway and two from the right-of-way easement off Andreanoff Drive. The front-yard setbacks of 25 feet in the D-1 zone have been officially reduced to 17.5 feet due to substandard setbacks existing in the neighborhood, per CBJ 49.25.430(4)(J).


The applicant developed initial building plans for a single-family dwelling in 1996. The property includes two right-of-way easements, one on the north end of the property off Andreanoff Drive, and one on the south end of the property off Glacier Highway (see Attachment A). CDD staff informed the applicant in writing that owners may build up to the easement line. The applicant designed and built the house according to that analysis of setbacks. The applicant was later informed by CDD that the information was incorrect and setbacks from right-of-way easements are determined from the easement line (See applicant letter, Attachment C).

The house was built in 1997 and is located approximately 11 feet from the easement. The house was originally designed to allow construction of an attached garage with additional living space on the same level, on the basis of earlier authorized setbacks. However this plan brings the structure within a few feet of the easement. To meet requirements, the applicant designed a similar but detached garage. In order to fit the structure into the useable area of the lot, a 10-foot setback is necessary rather than the required 17.5 feet. A small stream and drainage forms in a bowl in the rear of the proposed garage. The applicant explains that moving the garage 7.5 feet back to comply with setbacks would require a significant amount of fill and may impact drainage through the property (see Attachment B).

CBJ Land Use Code 49.25.430(G) allows a minimum garage setback of five feet if five criterion are met. Criterion (iii) states that the garage must be limited to one story with a maximum height of 15 feet. The applicant’s proposed garage exceeds this amount and therefore does not qualify for this exception. In January the applicant laid the garage foundation ten feet from the easement, 7.5 feet from the required setback line. If the variance request is not approved the applicant will scale back the design and build a one story garage ten feet from the easement.

The applicant has made preliminary inquiries about vacating the Andreanoff right-of-way easement. CBJ Land Surveyor, Terry Brenner, notes that a large parcel of property lies above the area that may be developed in the future. As there are few points of access to this large acreage, the city would not recommend vacating the right-of-way easement at this time.


Variance Requirements

Under CBJ49.20.250 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. 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 relief to the property owner and allow development more consistent with the original house plans that were designed when the setbacks were believed to be different. A lesser relaxation would lead the property owner to reduce the size of the garage, place the garage farther towards or within a small drainage, or a combination of these two options. However the applicant would qualify for the garage exception and would not require a variance if the second story living space was eliminated. None of these options prohibit the property owner from building a garage. Therefore staff finds that this variance is neither necessary for substantial relief to the property owner nor necessary to be consistent with justice afforded to other property owners. This criterion is not 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.

    No evidence indicates that granting this variance request will negatively impact public safety and welfare or violate the intent of Title 49. This criterion is met.

  • 3. That the authorization of the variance will not injure nearby property.
  • No evidence indicates that granting this variance will injure nearby property. The variance is required due to a setback from a right-of-way easement. It does not abut neighboring property. This criterion is met.

  • 4. That the variance does not authorize uses not allowed in the district involved.
  • A two-story garage is an allowable use in the D-1 zone. 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. Compliance with existing standards would not prevent the owner from using the property for residential purposes, which is the permissible principal use. Nor would compliance prevent the owner from constructing a garage.

    (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. Compliance with existing standards would not unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property in a manner that is consistent with development in the neighborhood of the subject property. The owner may construct a one-story garage and comply with regulations.

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

    No. The applicant is able to comply with standards through two different options. One option is to reduce the garage to one story to meet the garage exception that allows a five-foot setback. The second option is moving the two-story garage back an additional 7.5 feet to meet the 17.5-foot setback. The applicant notes that a small stream and "bowled" area exists within the area the garage would have to be moved to meet the setback, and thus additional fill and expenses would be necessary. Though this would certainly increase the cost of the project, staff lacks evidence that this would render compliance with standards "unreasonably" expensive.

  • 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. There are no pre-existing non-conforming circumstances associated with this lot.

  • Staff determines that this request does not meet any of the subcriterion in criterion 5. This criterion is not met.

  • 6. That a grant of the variance would result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood.
  • While a grant of the variance does not appear to have any negative impact on the neighborhood, it would not result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood either. This criterion is not met.


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


    CBJ49.20.240, 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 CBJ49.20.250.

    Under CBJ49.20.220, 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 submittal 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 February 16, 2001. Notice was mailed to owners of record of all property within 500 feet of the subject property.

    Under CBJ49.70.900 (b)(3), General Provisions, the director makes the following Juneau Coastal Management Program consistency determination:

    1. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?
    2. 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 does not meet criterion one, five, or six of section 49.20.250.


    After reviewing the criterion for variances found in CBJ 49.20.250, it is evident that while the garage does not appear to have any great impact on adjoining properties, there are no extraordinary situations or unique physical features associated with the site that would have created a hardship and practical difficulty to keep the applicant from complying with regulations and justify the variance.  


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