CBJ Assembly moves forward on a marijuana policy and capital projects

Photo credit to CBJ.

Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The Assembly addressed issues like on-site marijuana consumption, the Juneau International Airport North Terminal expansion, tourism impacts, and the Valley Transit Center at a regular meeting Monday.

The Assembly approved the transfer of $802,095 from Capital Transit projects to the Valley Transit Center project.  The money will be used to purchase the property for the facility.  The CBJ also will receive a Federal Transit Administration grant to help with the cost of the project.

The Assembly approved a resolution to rename the Willoughby District, the Aak'w Village District.  Fran Houston told the Assembly that natives came into this area in the 1800s.  "Everybody calls it the Juneau Indian Village.  We are very, very happy to change the name."

The Assembly also approved ordinances for the sale of $5.95 million of general obligation bonds and another $18 million in bonds to provide funding for the airport north terminal reconstruction project.

They also approved an ordinance to spend a $500,000 Alaska Department of Health and Social Services grant for the Bartlett Regional Hospital Crisis Stabilization project.  The total budget for the project is now $4 million.

Among ordinances for introduction included one that would remove the Planning Commission from the review process for leases and easements of CBJ Property.  Instead, it would require Assembly Lands Committee review.  The ordinance would also clarify the Planning Commission review is not required when the CBJ acquires the property.  The Commission would continue to review any sale or exchange of CBJ property.

Another ordinance introduced would create a property tax abatement program for assisted living developments that create 15 or more new residential units for senior citizens.  The abatement would be for 12 years and be approximately 75% of the tax bill.  State law prohibits the abatement of property taxes for school systems, 2.65 mills per year.

Another ordinance would rezone approximately 27.88 acres near Vista Drive from a mixture of D5 and D18 to D18. 

Another ordinance would amend CBJ’s second-hand smoke and public consumption of marijuana codes to only allow a marijuana retail store the ability to apply for an onsite consumption endorsement from the Marijuana Control Board.   The ordinance will also be considered by the Committee of the Whole on July 8.

Another ordinance would appropriate $1.1 million for the Juneau International Airport Terminal Construction Capital Improvement Plan.  The funds would come from the Airport Fund Balance and the Sales Tax Fund's fund balance.

These ordinances will be considered at the next Assembly meeting.

The Assembly honored Robin Potter upon her retirement as the assessor.  She has served the CBJ since 2006.

In public comment Pat White encouraged the Assembly to cap the number of tourists visiting each day to 8,000 visitors.  Paula Terrell expressed dismay that she has not received any information from the Assembly on her request to address concerns about the impacts of tourism.  Several residents expressed concern about alleged water and air pollution caused by cruise ships.   Others asked for additional taxation on the cruise industry to mitigate the impacts.  Others pushed for non-commercial areas that are off-limits to tourists.

Assembly member Michele Bonnet-Hale said the CBJ has heard the concerns and will follow up.  "We move slowly.  We will follow up but we can't say when or how."

Kirby Day representing Tourism Best Management Practices said they are willing to work on the concerns.  He said the tourism hotline has worked well.   He said they are not averse to setting a capacity on tourism.  "We want to continue to work with CBJ management and residents and make Juneau a great place to live and a great place to visit.  We have that opportunity."

Day said they expect about 150,000 to 160,000 more tourists in 2019 compared to 2018.  He noted about 70% of the cruise ship crew don't leave the ship.  He noted they will address a concern about tour groups going to Sandy Beach.  The area has been off-limits to commercial tours for several years.

The next Assembly meeting is scheduled for July 22. 

More from News of the North