Juneau orders noisy company to seek permit

Posted: Thursday, January 16, 2003

JUNEAU (AP) -- A Juneau construction company has been ordered to seek a permit to continue noisy activities it says it has engaged in since 1989.

The Juneau Planning Commission on Tuesday upheld a compliance order issued to Duran Construction Co. last summer.

The company came under fire when residents of two nearby trailer courts complained of incessant industrial noise, vibrations and noxious fumes coming from the facility.

The city ordered Duran to stop working at its site until it obtained proper permits. The city said company owners Josette and Marciano Duran processed rock and topsoil in a general commercial zone, where processing is prohibited, and stored construction materials without a permit.

The seasonal company primarily builds homes, develops subdivisions, and sells topsoil and rock.

Neighbors said vibration and noise from boulders ''the size of Volkswagens'' dropped from cranes onto other boulders and shook their homes.

Robert Spitzfaden, the Durans' attorney, said his clients had operated their facility since 1989 without a permit. Since 1999, they've been under the impression those activities had been ''grandfathered'' in by the city, he said.

''When I first moved to Alaska and I met the old-timers, their word was their bond and a deal was a deal,'' Spitzfaden told the commission. ''But you folks are saying, 'A deal's not a deal unless we say it's a deal.'

''You can't reopen something every time someone complains about something. If you can, then we'll be arguing about the same matter in 2020, with a new commission. Things have to have an end. This is the deal. You are stuck with it.''

John Hartle, deputy city attorney, said the city wanted the Durans to apply for a permit and go through the public process so the city could regulate noise, hours of operation and dust. He said the grandfathering of the site's activities was never clear in the city's written notes.

He said the Durans' site always has required a permit for their activities -- they've just never had one.

Also, he said, the activities on site have expanded beyond the Durans' original intent and the city's permission.

The commission voted 4-2 that the compliance order would stand and the Durans would have to apply for a conditional-use permit.

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