Downtown Juneau

Downtown Juneau. (Photo by Sam Beebe/Flickr Creative Commons)

The Juneau Assembly Monday night put its final approval on the Comprehensive Plan for development over the next 20 years, with the clear message that it wants more input at the beginning of the process.

The Assembly has adopted the 2013 update to the 2008 long-range plan. The revisions have been in the works for more than two years.  After public meetings throughout the borough and lots of fieldwork, city staff turned the changes over to the Planning Commission, which did more work then held a public hearing and passed the plan in May.

It was August before the Assembly first reviewed the draft.  Assembly member Carlton Smith said that’s way too late:

“It’s unfortunate in my view that the Assembly in this process is at the very end of the process. And I really would like to see with the new update that the Assembly possibly meet with the (Planning) Commission on the front end so that we could possibly give that direction.”

The document is more than 300 pages long.  Assembly members said it should be condensed so it’d be more workable.

On a motion from Mary Becker, the panel voted 5 to 4 to delete some references that take the plan out 20 years to 2033.

“That’s a long time,” Becker said.  “I know we can make changes, but it’s still a long time.”

Becker also called for an update once the city completes a Juneau economic development plan the Assembly wants.

City Attorney Amy Mead said the Assembly can initiate a change to the Comprehensive Plan any time, but the Planning Commission must be involved.

CBJ Community Development Director Hal Hart said the Assembly will be brought into the process sooner next time or when it initiates a review:

“Communication is the name of the game so we have to have good communication especially between the Planning Commission and the Assembly, but also between other groups and the Assembly and Planning Commission as well.”

The Comprehensive Plan update reorganizes some chapters, fixes errors found in the 2008 document, and updates sections on housing, economic development, energy, transportation, land-use maps, and utilities.

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