From a report By MATT WOOLBRIGHT, JUNEAU EMPIRE, Nov 28th, 2013
A standing room-only audience stayed in the Assembly Chambers more than four hours Tuesday night as the Juneau Planning Commission heard public comment and debated a pair of contested rezoning applications. In the end, both items were shelved for later meetings…
…At least 50 members of the public attended the meeting to oppose the efforts of Bicknell, Inc., to rezone and ultimately develop the land. There have been, and currently are, efforts to purchase the land from the company to secure its long-term function as a natural relief for Juneauites and visitors. However, to date the company and prospective buyers have not agreed on a price — a fact that many opponents pointed to when asking the commission to reject the application.
“If you give Bicknell this zoning change, you’ll likely allow them to price this property beyond the local community’s ability to buy it,” said Juneau resident Mark Kelley.
Kelley told the committee about how his Facebook post about the possible rezone generated feedback from several friends who had visited Juneau and didn’t believe the iconic view should be altered in any way.
“If you approve this land rezoning and the bulldozes start rolling, this view will be lost forever,” Kelley said. “I just can’t stand the thought, it’s just not right, it hurts my soul.”
Forty-seven of the rezone opponents wore placards with a picture of the field adorned with colorful flowers and the words “Field of Fireweed” emblazoned across the top. Supporters had reasons including desires to purchase the land, not wanting to lose the iconic viewshed and wanting to preserve the wetlands habitat, among others.