Daily Sitka Sentinel

Back Street Variance Held Up by Protest

    The Planning Commission Tuesday announced that a request for a set of variances that would pave the way for the construction of a new home on Kaagwaantaan Street has to be resubmitted.
    Boyd Didrickson wants to demolish existing structures at 428 Kaagwaantaan and build a new two-story house. The Planning Commission approved variances for the project back in 2009, but the Assembly kicked the issue back to the Planning Commission after the Anderson family, owners of an adjacent house, raised questions about whether Didrickson rightfully owned the Kaagwaantaan lot.
    The decades-old ownership issue was settled in 2011 and Didrickson has been back before the Planning Commission in recent weeks. He’s seeking four variances for the project: reduction of the front setback, reduction of a side setback, an increase in the allowable lot coverage to roughly 50 percent, and a reduction in the required parking spaces from two to one.
    The Anderson family has asked the Planning Commission to reject the variance requests. They’ve said Didrickson’s lot is too small to accommodate the house he’s planning.
    Didrickson has said the project will improve the lot, where the existing structures have fallen into disrepair. He said he can build a three-story home, up to 35 feet, without a variance.
    Didrickson’s variance requests were set to be taken up Tuesday by the Planning Commission. But at the outset of the regularly scheduled meeting, Jeremy Twaddle, the commission chairman, said the Anderson family had submitted a letter to the Planning Department pointing out that Didrickson had not formally resubmitted his variance requests, relying instead on an updated version of the original application. They said the old application, from 2008, predated the settlement of the ownership issue and should be thrown out.
    Members of the commission agreed that a new application should be submitted. Twaddle said he expected Didrickson’s variances to come back before the commission next month.    
    In other business Tuesday, the commission held another in a series of public hearings on a set of changes to the city’s zoning and subdivision codes. A small group of Sitkans, mostly island property owners, has been following the proposed changes, which will ultimately go to the Assembly for final approval.
    Robert Carlson, who has a home on Long Island, said Tuesday he was worried about a proposed change to how the public would be notified when a new subdivision is going before the commission.
    So far, the commission has been collecting public comments. Members have not had much debate about the proposed changes.

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