DATE: November 6, 2001

TO: Board of Adjustment

FROM: Mark Jaqua, Planner

Community Development Department

FILE NO.: VAR2001-00032

PROPOSAL: A Variance to allow use of a 684 square foot accessory apartment in a single-family dwelling on Pioneer Avenue.


GENERAL INFORMATION

Applicant:                        Norma Strickland

Property Owner:                Norma Strickland

Property Address:               3151 Pioneer Avenue

Legal Description:               Channel Heights II Blk A. Lt 14

Parcel Code Number:        1-D05-0-L26-005-0

Site Size:                           8,269 Square Feet

Zoning:                             D-5 Residential

Utilities:                            CBJ Water & Sewer

Access:                             Pioneer Avenue

Existing Land Use:            Single Family Residence

Surrounding Land Use: North - D-5 Residential
                                    South - D-5 Residential
                                    East - Pioneer Avenue, D-5 Residential
                                    West - D-5 Residential

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

The applicant is seeking a variance for an accessory apartment that is 685 square feet, where the maximum area allowed under §49.25.510.(2)(A) is 600 square feet.


BACKGROUND

Norma Strickland and her sister built a single family dwelling in 1995 with two separate living spaces that share a common front entrance. The lot is 8,269 square feet in size, which is less than the 10,500 square feet required for a duplex in D-5 Residential zone. Mrs. Strickland occupies the upper level and her sister lived in the lower level. The lower level was built with a total area of 684 square feet, with a kitchen, bath, study, bedroom and laundry room. The maximum allowed size for an accessory apartment is 600 square feet, with one bedroom. A deed restriction was recorded with the building permit that prevented the owners from renting the lower unit as an apartment.

A medical condition precluded Norma Strickland’s sister from occupying the lower level. Norma Strickland continues to live in the upper level, and is seeking for a relaxation of the maximum size requirement for an accessory apartment in order to rent the lower level.

ANALYSIS

Variance Requirements

Under CBJ§49.25.510 (e) (2) (F),: Allowable use applications for accessory apartments that do not meet all requirements shall be heard through the variance process.

The variance process is listed 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:

Norma Strickland has submitted an Allowable Use Application for an accessory apartment in the lower level of the residence (USE2001-00047).

She asserts in her letter, that the medical condition of her sister prevents her from using lower level for its intended purpose as family living space. The applicant has considered alterations in the structure in the lower level to meet the space requirement, but because of its layout, it would be difficult to alter the structure in order to comply. Eliminating the use of the office or bedroom space would render some space unusable, or require extensive modifications to meet building and fire code requirements (Attachment A).

There are no unique physical features associated with this specific parcel that would make it difficult to carry out the provision of Title 49.

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 allow the owners to realize a use for the lower level of the residence that is more consistent with the original design of the dwelling, which was for two separate living quarters. Alterations to the lower unit that would lessen the square footage available for an accessory apartment were considered. (Attachment B) Remodeling to reduce the area would be as costly and intrusive as complying with the 600 sq. ft. requirement. The deed restriction can be released through a written release from the City. 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.

This variance would have no foreseeable impact on public safety or welfare. Use of the lower level as an accessory apartment would result in no substantial change in land use, traffic or utilities from the original design of this property. The property meets all other dimensional standards with respect to setbacks, height, and parking.

The intent of the 600 square foot requirement in this Title is to limit the number of bedrooms and the number of persons that could occupy the space. This limits the impacts to local neighborhood traffic, water and sewer, and utility service. The proposed accessory apartment would comply with the intent of Title 49 if limited to the use of one bedroom. This criterion is met.

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

The use of the lower level as an accessory apartment will have no effect on nearby property since there is no substantial change is the use from the original design of the property. Written comments from neighbors do not reflect any concern for detrimental effects from the use as an accessory apartment. (Attachment C.) 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-5 zoning designation. The D-5 district provides for residential uses with densities up to 5 units per acre and accessory apartments. Other than the maximum size requirement for accessory apartments, the lower level residence meets all other requirements for 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 would not necessarily prevent the owner from continuing to use the residence as a single-family dwelling. 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;

Accessory apartments are a permissible use in this district and do occur within the neighborhood. Modifications to the existing design of the lower level could be reasonably accomplished and would allow the use as an accessory apartment that is consistent is scale to other apartments in the neighborhood. This sub-criterion is not met.

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

There are no identifiable physical features of the property that limit modifications to the lower level that would enable it to comply with the maximum size limit. This sub-criterion is not met.

or

(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.

This sub-criterion does not apply.

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


Written comments from neighbors are supportive of the variance application and they do not foresee any detriments to the character of the neighborhood from the establishment of an accessory apartment. Two of the written comments describe benefits to having a mix of affordable rental opportunities in both the neighborhood and the greater community of Juneau. This criterion is met.


JUNEAU COASTAL MANAGEMENT PROGRAM

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


FINDINGS

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 Norma Strickland, including the appropriate fees, substantially conforms to the requirements of CBJ code Chapters 49.15. Additionally, notice was provided in the Juneau Empire under Your Municipality, which ran on Nov. 2, 2001 and Nov. 12, 2001. Notice was mailed to owners of record of all property within 500 feet of the subject property on October 31, 2001.

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?

The variance application does not meet criteria (b) (5): (A) where compliance with the existing standards would unreasonably prevent the owner from using the property for a permissible principal use, or (B) prevent the owner from using the property in a manner consistent as to scale with existing development in the neighborhood. (C) We find there are no unique physical features of the property that render compliance with the standards unreasonably expensive, and (D) that there are no preexisting nonconforming conditions on the subject parcel. All other criteria are met.

 

RECOMMENDATION

It is recommended that the Board of Adjustment adopt the director’s analysis and findings and deny the requested variance in the maximum size requirement for an accessory apartment.

However, if a variance is granted, then it is recommended that a conditional use be attached that limits the use to a single bedroom.