DATE: June 29, 2001

TO: Board of Adjustment

FROM: Sylvia A. Kreel, Planner
Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2001-00021

PROPOSAL: A variance to allow a 14 foot front yard setback on one of the street sides of a corner lot, where the code requires a 20 foot setback.

 

GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant:                  Jack Cadigan

Property Owner:        Jack Cadigan

Property Address:     3198 Pioneer Avenue, Juneau

Legal Description:     Channel Heights 2, Block B, Lot 1

Parcel Code Number: 1-D05-0-L27-018-0

Site Size:                     7,659 Square Feet

Zoning:                        D-5 Single Family/ Duplex Residential

Utilities:                       CBJ Water and Sewer

Access:                      Pioneer Avenue

Existing Land Use:     Vacant

Surrounding Land Use:     North - Fairbanks Street; Single-family residence; D-5
                                        South - Single-family residence; D-5
                                        East - Vacant; D-5
                                        West - Pioneer Street; Single-family residence; D-5

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant is requesting a variance in order to construct a single-family residence with a 14-foot front yard setback from Fairbanks Street. This particular lot has three street fronts. The required 20 foot front yard setback would be maintained on the other two street fronts. The proposed residence is two levels. However, due to the topography, the upper level is just one level above grade at Pioneer. The lower level is similar to a day-lighted basement. The plans show a two bedroom residential unit on the upper level. The lower level will remain as an unfinished basement. The total footprint of the area which would encroach measures less than 100 square feet.

 

BACKGROUND

The subject property has several unique physical features:

A portion of the proposed deck extends 2 feet into the front setback. This encroachment is permissible by code and does not require a variance. Section §49.25.430(4)(B)(i) allows a deck to extend up to 48 inches into a setback for purpose of access.

 

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.

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 effects of complying with a front yard setback on three sides of a lot, the shape and the steepness of the lot. These features render construction on the east portion of the lot difficult and costly. While the applicant has development options which would comply with the regulations, the unique physical features of the site and the difficulty involved with compliance, render the variance justified.

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 owner of the property and would be more consistent with justice to other property owners. The relaxation applied for is needed due to the setback requirements from Fairbanks Street. The shape of the lot, the need for three street front setbacks and the steepness create a combination of extraordinary situations not found on many lots. Staff discussed several different development options with the applicant’s architect, including shifting portions of the house forward, greater use of the east end of the lot and greater use of the downstairs. However, alternative house plans are limited and costly due to the characteristics of the sight, as described. Additionally, the application notes that the owner of the house has cerebral palsy and that his future physical needs may limit his use of the downstairs. The variance offers both substantial reliefs for the applicant and development opportunities which would be more consistent with justice to other property owners.

We find 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.

In summary, the intent of this title is to ensure that growth and development is in accord with the values of Juneau’s residents; to identify and secure the beneficial impacts of growth while minimizing the negative impacts; to ensure that future growth is of the appropriate type, design and location; to provide adequate open space for light and air; and to recognize the economic value of land and encourage its proper and beneficial use.

This requested variance would allow for development which would be similar in size and scale of neighboring development and which is situated on the lot in a similar fashion as development on neighboring properties. As such, it can be found that the proposal is in accordance with the values of Juneau’s residents. Setbacks are intended to maintain a degree of light and air and consistent development pattern. There is a clear pattern of development along Pioneer Street. The proposed residence provides for a 20-foot setback along Pioneer and will maintain the existing pattern of development along Pioneer Street. Fairbanks however is only 2 lots long. There is no clear pattern established. Approximately 100 square feet of floor area would encroach into the setback. At this size, the encroachment would not be significant enough to impact availability of light and air. As such, we find that the intent of this title is met.

Provisions of the CBJ Building Code will be applied to ensure that the public safety and welfare will be preserved.

We find that this criterion is met.

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

The authorization of the requested variances does not appear to pose a threat of injury to nearby property.

We find that this criterion is met.

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

The variance will authorize the development of a single-family dwelling, which is a permissible use in a D-5 zoning district. The lower level is shown as unfinished basement space. Its use will need to comply with D-5 zoning regulations.

We find that 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;

No. Compliance with the existing standards would require the owner to develop an alternate site plan for the residence. However, it would not prevent the lot from being used for a single-family dwelling.

            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. Again, compliance would require a redesign of the residence. However, compliance with the existing standards would not unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property in a manner that is consistent as to scale, amenities and appearance with existing development in the neighborhood of the subject property.

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

Yes. The combination of lot shape, slope and presence of 3 street frontages are unique physical features which jointly create an extraordinary situation which render compliance with the 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 non-conforming conditions associated with this site.

We find that this criterion is met as sub-criterion 5C is met.

 

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

The subject property is a difficult site with several development challenges. Yet the development of the project as proposed will result in a dwelling that is consistent with the scale and appearance of other properties in the neighborhood. We view this as a benefit to the neighborhood. We are unaware of any detriments that would result from the grant of the requested front setback variance.

We find that this criterion is met.

 

JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

The Juneau Coastal Management Program has been reviewed for applicability. The provisions of the JCMP do not apply to this request.

 

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 June 29, 2001. Public notice was mailed to owners of record for all properties 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. The provisions of the JCMP do not apply to this request.

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

Staff recommends that the Board of Adjustment adopt the staff analysis and the Director’s findings which conclude that the grounds for variances are met and approve the request to allow a 14-foot front yard setback.