DATE: July 5, 2001

TO: Board of Adjustment

FROM: Oscar Graham, Planner
              Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2001-00020

PROPOSAL: A Variance to allow construction of a second story deck over an existing single story enclosed porch within approximately 6 feet of the front property line where 20 feet is required.


Applicant:                         Alaska Renovators, Inc.

Property Owner:              Simon Taylor

Property Address:            115 Gastineau Avenue, Juneau

Legal Description:            Gastineau, Lot 2

Parcel Code Number:      1-C07-0-A51-009-0

Site Size:                         2,656.41 Square Feet

Zoning:                           D-10 Multifamily

Utilities:                          CBJ Water & Sewer

Access:                          Gastineau Avenue

Existing Land Use:         Single Family Residence

Surrounding Land Use: North - Residential
                                    South - Residential
                                    East -   Vacant
                                    West - Gastineau Avenue


A variance is requested for the construction of a second story deck over an existing single story enclosed porch. The deck would be 9 feet wide and 14 feet in length. The need for the deck is to provide egress from the second story of the home. The deck will access ground level via a stairway. The deck will also be utilized as an amenity in conjunction with the residence.

The second story of the home is occupied by the master bedroom. Although there are windows on the second story, the style and method of construction prevent them from meeting egress requirements. The existing windows will be replaced by a door. The door will provide the owner with a quick method of exiting the building to the deck. The stairs will provide a means of reaching the ground.

The proposed deck will reduce the existing substandard front yard setback from 8.4 feet to 6 feet. The standard front yard setback required in the D-10 zoning district is 20 feet. All other dimensional standards associated with the zoning designation will be observed.


The subject property is located along an area of Gastineau Avenue that is characterized by residential development, which encroaches into front yard setbacks. Many residences in the vicinity include decks or balconies that extend to the proximity of the road right of way. The existing residence includes an accessory apartment located on the ground floor. The residence was inspected by the Building Division pursuant to the accessory apartment amnesty program in July 1994. The accessory apartment is considered a legally established use. The Planning Commission recently approved a similar request for encroachments associated with an arctic entry and third story balconies in conjunction with a nearby six-plex. The proposed addition is not anticipated to have any impact on the Gastineau Avenue road improvement project.



Variance Requirements

Under CBJ'49.20.250 (b): 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:

Staff reviewed the nature and type of hardship and practical difficulties documented in the application. Staff agrees that a hardship and practical difficulties exist. The hardship is based on the lawful location of the existing residence and the need to provide emergency egress. The practical difficulties are associated with the need to construct an addition in conjunction with the existing residence which though lawfully established is located inside of the required front yard setback. The hardship and practical difficulties represent an extraordinary situation affecting only a specific property and render it difficult to carry out the provisions of Title 49. Staff has determined that the variance process represents an appropriate remedy to the hardship. 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 diminish the pre-existing substandard setback from 8.4 to 6 feet for a total decrease of 2.4 feet. The encroachment would be limited primarily to the second story deck. The stairway from the deck to ground level would be located at the southeastern corner of the addition outside of the existing front yard setback. Based on the presence of adjacent decks and balconies which encroach into the required front yard setback the relief sought through this variance is considered by staff to 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 degree of encroachment, context in which the subject property is located and consistence with the variance criteria indicate that the intent of Title 49 will be observed. Public safety and welfare will be preserved and furthered by providing second story egress. This criterion is met.

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

The location of the proposed addition at the second story level and its compliance with sideyard setback requirements indicate that the authorization will not injure nearby properties. This criterion is met.

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

The variance does not authorize uses not allowed in the D-10 zoning designation. The D-10 district provides for residential uses with densities up to 10 units per acre. The subject single family residence includes a lawfully established accessory apartment. This criterion is met.

5. That compliance with the existing standards would:

    1. Unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principal use;

Compliance with the existing standards is not possible given the pre-existing non-conforming nature of the residence within the required front yard setback. However, the residence could maintain the existing non-conforming setback of 8.4 feet. Maintenance of this setback would not necessarily prevent the owner from establishing the second story egress but would limit the degree to which the deck could be utilized as an amenity. This sub-criterion is not met.

            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;

Compliance with existing standards would not unreasonably prevent the owner from establishing second story egress but would limit their ability to enjoy amenities which are common to the neighborhood. This sub-criterion is met.

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

While the existing residence is located within the required front yard setback area, compliance with existing standards would be possible by limiting the area of the deck to the existing setback. No unique physical features have been observed which render compliance with existing

standards unreasonably expensive. This sub-criterion is not met.


            D. Because of preexisting 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.

Because sub-criterion (B) and (D) are met this criterion is considered satisfied.

Based, in part, on the pre-existing non-conforming location of the existing residence within the front yard setback and the presence of similar setback encroachments in the neighborhood, granting of the variance would not be considered by staff to result in an overall decrease in overall compliance with the land use code. This sub-criterion is met.

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

The granting of the variance will provide an overall increase in safety by providing reliable second story egress. In addition the deck will provide an amenity which is in common use in the neighborhood. The benefits associated with the proposal appear to result in ore benefits than detriments to the neighborhood. This criterion is met.



Staff have reviewed the proposed development and determined that no enforceable provisions of the JCMP apply the proposal.



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 June 29 and July 9, 2001. Notice was mailed to owners of record of all property within 500 feet of the subject property.

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?

Staff has determined that the requested variance meets criteria 1-6



It is recommended that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director’s analysis and findings and approve the requested variance.