The ABCs of how to enlarge a city were presented to members of the Soldotna City Council on Wednesday.
The city is preparing for talks on possibly annexing four surrounding areas into the city’s boundaries.
Areas being considered include properties along Funny River Road from Spenard Builders Supply to the Soldotna airport; the Skyline Drive area at Kalifornsky Beach Road from behind Cook Inlet Academy to Slikok Creek; an area along the Sterling Highway from River and Sea Marine Supply up to Skyview High School; and a section between the city limits and Ridgeway Road from Pioneer Drive to Heath Street, just west of Mackey Lake Road.
No decision to annex has been made, and City Manager Tom Boedeker told the council the annexation process takes a minimum of two years.
“That’s without adding any additional meetings or public hearings,” Boedeker said.
Boedeker’s special projects and research assistant, Leila Kimbrell, led council members through a special work session Wednesday detailing the ins and outs of annexation.
Kimbrell said the idea of annexation first came to the city by way of a 1995 Soldotna Comprehensive Plan, and more recently, through recommendations of the city’s Planning Commission, which came out in November.
She said any decision on annexation would have to be approved by the Local Boundary Commission, a constitutionally created board charged with the authority to approve or deny municipal boundary changes in Alaska.
Once the city proposes annexation, at least two public hearings are mandated, the city council must pass an ordinance identifying the method of annexation to be used and a petition to annex must be filed with the state.
The city can opt to have voters in the affected areas decide whether to annex, or the decision can be put before the state Legislature.
The city also has the option of annexing all four potential areas at once or seeking to annex the areas individually.
Regardless of the method, the city must answer a number of questions raised by any annexation proposal, according to Kimbrell.
The city needs to show it can provide police and emergency response to the area to be annexed; describe anticipated zoning and land use controls; determine which city services, such as sewer and water, would be extended, and which would not be provided immediately; and provide data on population and property taxes.
Boedeker told the council it would be wise to prepare a draft petition before conducting the initial public hearings “so everyone knows what you’re planning to do.”
“Homer tried (annexation) without having a draft petition first and it was a disaster,” he said.
“The boundary commission wants a pretty good picture of what you’re thinking,” Boedeker said.
He asked that council members tell city administration what they want to do within the next couple of months.
Responding to questions from the council, Kimbrell said an individual notice of proposed annexation would be sent to each residence in the affected areas.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@ peninsulaclarion.com.
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