DATE: February 21, 2001

TO: Planning Commission

FROM: Sylvia A. Kreel, Planner
Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2001-00008

PROPOSAL: Variance request to locate weigh scales and the approach ramp 33 feet from the Ordinary High Water Mark of Lemon Creek, where a 50 foot setback is required for all development.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant: CBJ

Property Owner: Ralph Horecny

Property Address: 1800 Anka Juneau, AK

Legal Description: USMS 609 FR

Parcel Code Number: 5-B12-0-104-004-0

Site Size: 50.53 acres

Zoning: I, Industrial

Utilities: Septic

Access: Anka Street

Existing Land Use: Haul Road for access to gravel operations

Surrounding Land Use: North – I, Industrial; CBJ gravel pit

South – I, Industrial; Costco

East -I, Industrial; CBJ gravel pit

West -I, Industrial; Lemon Creek

 

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The requested variance is to allow the relocation of a weigh station and the necessary approach and exit ramps. The proposed location is on the existing haul road used to access CBJ gravel operations in the Lemon Creek area. The haul road was constructed in the 1970s prior to the stream side setback requirement. The facility would be located entirely on previously developed roadway. No additional areas will be disturbed. No vegetation will be removed. The weigh station would serve both existing and future gravel operations further up Lemon Creek. The proposed location is preferred because it allows loaded trucks exiting the CBJ gravel pit to easily access the weigh station without having to detour or cross traffic.

The weigh station includes the following features:

All of these elements will be constructed within the existing roadway. Only a portion of the ramps and scales would be located within the 50-foot setback. The shack and platform are entirely outside the 50-foot setback.

BACKGROUND

The weigh station is operated by CBJ for CBJ gravel pit operations. However, it is currently located on private property. The private property owner has plans to develop his property. As such, CBJ needs to relocate its weigh station. The new location on the haul road is also on private property.

The bank between the creek and the haul road, in the area of the proposed weigh station, is steep and well vegetated with willow and cottonwoods.

Section 49.70.310 prohibits development within 50 feet of anadromous fish streams. This setback is required for all development regardless whether the area has been previously disturbed or not. 

ANALYSIS

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. 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 variance applied for will give substantial relief to CBJ in that it will provide an efficient and safe location for the weigh station. A lesser variance would move the scales such that loaded trucks would have to cross a lane of incoming traffic to approach and exit the scales. Consideration for safety is a priority afforded to other property owners. Staff finds that the variance requested would be consistent with this justice afforded other property owners.

    Staff finds that 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 49.15.100 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.
  • The weigh station will be on previously developed land and will not create any additional impacts to habitat.

    Safety and community growth and development, are both community values. The requested variance is specifically intended to address both these concerns. The weigh station will serve current and future gravel operations. The proposed location presents the safest location.

    Staff finds that this criterion is met.

    1. That the authorization of the variance will not injure nearby property.
    2. The subject property is just over 50 acres in size and spans across both sides of Lemon Creek. There is no evidence to suggest that this variance would injure nearby property.

      Staff finds that this criterion is met.

    3. That the variance does not authorize uses not allowed in the district involved.
  • The weigh station is part of the haul road, which is a function of the gravel pit operation. The Table of Permissible Uses, 49.25.300.14.600 includes gravel operations as an allowable use in the Industrial zoning district, subject to an Allowable Use Permit. The requested variance would not authorize uses not allowed in the Industrial zoning district.

    Staff finds that 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 would not preclude use of the existing gravel pit, a principal permissible use, or use of the haul road. A weigh station could be accommodated on the other side of the haul road, outside of the 50-foot setback. However, this would present a less time efficient, less cost efficient and less safe alternative.  

    (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 would not prevent use of the site in a manner, which is consistent with other development in the area.

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

    Yes. The haul road already exists. The proposed relocation of the weigh station would not impact any additional property, nor increase the impact to the stream in any way. This factor is an extraordinary situation. It is not typical that development can occur within a stream setback without any additional impact to the stream. Compliance would be less time efficient and therefore increase the cost of producing gravel. Over the years compliance would be unreasonably expensive, without offering any additional protection to the stream.

    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 existing haul road is located within the 50-foot setback from Lemon Creek. This is a preexisting nonconforming situation. However, compliance would not result in a net decrease in compliance with the Land Use Code, CBJ Title 49.

    Sub-criteria C is met. As such, staff finds that criterion 5 is met.

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

    The relocation of the weigh station will have no impact on Lemon Creek and there is no evidence suggesting that it will be detrimental to the neighborhood. The proposed location will provide a safer and more cost-effective way to weigh the gravel than if the station were relocated outside of the 50-foot setback. As such staff finds that the grant of the variance would result in more benefits than detriments to the neighborhood.

    Staff finds that this criterion is met.

    JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM (JCMP)

    CBJ49.70.950 (f) requires that structures and foundations located adjacent to cataloged anadromous streams, of which Lemon Creek is one "…shall have a fifty-foot setback from each side of the stream, where feasible and prudent,…The setback shall be vegetated or revegetated…"

    Feasible and prudent is defined within the JCMP to mean, "consistent with sound engineering practice and not causing environmental, social or economic problems which outweigh the public benefit…"

    The proposed development will be on a previously developed area. There will be no additional habitat impact and no greater potential for erosion. Safety problems would result from locating the weigh station on the other side of the street, outside of the 50-foot setback. These detriments would outweigh the benefits gained by complying with the setback.

    Additionally, the JCMP sections 49.70.950(a), (b), and (c) apply. The code specifically states:

  • 49.70.950 HABITAT.

    (a) Habitats in the coastal area which are subject to the Alaska Coastal Management Program include (7) Rivers, streams and lakes

    (b)The habitats contained in subsection (a) of this section shall be managed so as to maintain or enhance the biological, physical and chemical characteristics of the habitat which contribute to its capacity to support living resources.

    (c)(7) Rivers streams and lakes shall be managed so as to protect natural vegetation, water quality, important fish or wildlife habitat and natural waterflow.

  • As the proposed weigh station will create no greater impact on natural vegetation, water quality, important fish or wildlife habitat and water flow, staff finds that the project is consistent with the Habitat standards of the JCMP.

    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 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 February 16, 2001. A 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:

    1. Will the proposed development comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program?
    2. Yes. The proposal will comply with the Juneau Coastal Management Program.
    3. Does the variance as requested, meet the criteria of Section 49.20.250 Grounds for
  • Variances?

    Yes. The variance meets the criteria of section 49.20.250.

  • RECOMMENDATION

    Typically, development within the 50-foot setback of an anadromous fish stream has some impact to the habitat or water quality of the stream. The existing haul road was developed within 50 feet of the setback years ago prior to the current regulations. The proposed project will not increase the impacts.

    Staff recommends that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director’s analysis and findings and determine that criteria 1-6 found in Section 49.20.250 are met and grant the variance as requested.