Juneau Council Discussing Zoning Changes

(Juneau) City officials in Juneau are looking at downtown zoning changes that could lead to a phasing out of vape shops and tattoo parlors. The creation of an ordinance establishing a “downtown mixed-use district” is being advocated by the Dodge County Blue Zones Project, a community-led well-being initiative. The ordinance seeks to create an “urban village atmosphere” that supports downtown activity that is pedestrian-friendly. The ordinance promotes commercial properties like restaurants, hotels, stores, professional services and movie theatres. Residential developments like apartments and condos are also encouraged along with public facilities like schools and churches. In addition to vape shops and tattoo parlors, car washes, warehouses and strip clubs would also be prohibited. The fate of the downtown strip club is currently up in the air since the city rejected a request to name the new owner the agent of the tavern’s liquor license. However, Mayor Dan Wegener says the update is not about the strip club. The city attorney says existing business would not be affected unless there is a significant change in the use of the business. Alderman Jason Buske questioned whether the city could afford to discourage any business from moving into the downtown.  Blue Zones Representative Leslie Covell-Hershberger noted that wholesome businesses lead to similarly positive businesses. The ordinance is being discussed in committee so that concerns could be addressed and specific boundaries could be established before heading to the full Juneau Common Council for a vote.