Lemon Creek sees some love

Last March, the Juneau Assembly adopted the Auke Bay Area Plan, a blueprint of sorts to help guide future development in a manner appropriate for the area. Almost exactly a year later, city planners are in the beginning stages of creating a similar plan for Lemon Creek.

“Right now we’re just starting to kick off the public interest piece with the intent that the draft plan will be completed in one year,” said Jill Maclean, a senior planner with the city’s Community Development Department. Maclean and department Director Rob Steedle sat down with the Empire Thursday morning to talk about the plan, which they are working on together.

Right now the plan is in its infancy. So far, Maclean and Steedle have held one public meeting to start taking community input. About 70 people met in Dzantik’i Heeni Middle School on March 10 to begin discussing what Lemon Creek should look like in 20 years.

“There was a diverse cross section of people there, which was great because there’s a diverse mix of uses in that area,” Steedle said, adding that the mix of uses is one of the reasons why the CDD is interested in putting together a plan for the area.

Lemon Creek is a zoning hodgepodge where eight different zoning districts abut one another. Residential zones of various densities are shoehorned in between industrial and commercial zones, and as the community grows, Steedle and Maclean want to make sure the conflicting zoning doesn’t create conflicting neighbors.

“We expect there will be growth in the community, and in this area we have residential, commercial and industrial uses all in close proximity to one another, so we want to shape the plan so that people don’t get annoyed with each other.”

In order to do so, Maclean and Steedle will be leaning heavily on public input. The CDD is currently accepting applications for an 11-member steering committee that will help work on the plan. The Planning Commission will review the applications and make appointments at some point next month if everything goes smoothly, Maclean said.

She is also looking to form nine focus groups, which will consist of Lemon Creek property owners. Each group will focus on a specific aspect of the plan, such as housing or recreation.

Maclean said that public input is particularly important in this process to help CDD staff avoid relying on preconceived notions, which she said causes “tunnel vision” in planning. Steedle agreed and made sure to reinforce this point.

“We are not creating a plan sitting in our offices,” he said. “We’re the scribes recording what people say, synthesizing that and saying, ‘Is this what the community wants?’”

Currently, the CDD doesn’t have any more public meetings scheduled to discuss the Lemon Creek Area Plan, but Maclean and Steedle said that should change in a couple months. Once the steering committee is set, the CDD will begin planning public meetings to run from May to June or possibly July.

• Contact reporter Sam DeGrave at sam.degrave@juneauempire.com or at 523-2279.

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