Growing: Anchor Point incorporation plan unveiled

Posted: Friday, February 09, 2007

A plan to turn the peninsula’s most westerly community into a second-class city was unveiled at a noon Anchor Point Chamber of Commerce meeting Wednesday. A presentation by members of an ad hoc incorporation committee — Duane Harvey, Sue Fritsch, Joann Collins and Paul Voeller — outlined the reasons for incorporation and proposed an area for the new city’s boundaries.

“It’s ready for a vote to see if people want it or not,” Collins said on Monday. Drawing from a survey conducted by the chamber two years ago, Collins’ role with the ad hoc committee was to compile arguments supporting incorporation of an area with a population slightly less than 3,000 with its center at the intersection of the Sterling Highway, North Fork Road and Milo Fritz Avenue.

There are there types of city government in Alaska: first class, second class and home rule, according to the state’s Local Boundary Commission. Their powers, duties and functions are defined by state law. Second-class cities may exercise planning, platting and land use regulation if the borough delegates those powers to them. Otherwise, they are not obligated by law to provide any particular service.

The Kenai Peninsula Borough currently has three first-class cities — Homer, Seldovia and Soldotna; two home-rule cities — Kenai and Seward; and one second-class city — Kachemak City. Crista Hippchen, borough planner, said Kachemak City has not requested planning, platting and land use regulation powers.

“If (Anchor Point) requested them first by ordinance, after incorporating, then we can delegate them by ordinance,” Hippchen said.

A survey conducted by the chamber two years ago identified several reasons area residents favored incorporation. One was the growth Anchor Point is experiencing.

“Ten years ago we had 700 permanent fund dividends mailed to the Anchor Point Post Office. Last year we had 2,800,” Harvey said Monday.

Developing infrastructure to meet the area’s growth was a need identified in the chamber’s survey.

“The community water system needs to be expanded and a community sewer in the proposed territory will soon become a necessity. These utilities are best managed and operated under an organized city government,” Collins said.

A number of existing features already give Anchor Point a city-like appearance, setting it apart from other unincorporated communities in the Kenai Peninsula Borough: a fire and emergency medical service station, library, senior citizen center, Veterans of Foreign Wars, chamber of commerce office and visitor center, a kindergarten through eighth-grade school, an Alaska State Troopers station and several community churches.

“It is important to ensure this territory grows in the direction of its residents’ desires, making self-government essential,” Collins said, drawing from survey responses.

“The direction of the majority of the area of our community can no longer be left to the dictates of those with no direct interest in the community and having to base their decisions on the good of the entire borough rather than what is best for one individual community.”

Among Anchor Point’s growing needs are a community center, new library, senior housing and a health clinic.

“Being an unincorporated area, we are ineligible for funding opportunities such as governmental and philanthropic grants and low interest loans. As an incorporated second-class city, we could receive funds which could then be passed on to the appropriate project,” Collins said.

Signatures of 25 registered voters residing within the proposed area for incorporation are needed to submit the incorporation petition to the Local Boundary Commission.

“They’ll let us know what changes we need to make,” Collins said. “From my understanding, they never approve the first one. There’s always additional work that needs to be done.”

Review of the petition by the LBC generally takes a year or longer, according to information from the commission. If the petition is approved, the state will conduct a local election on the matter. The election process typically takes three months.

For the ad hoc committee, however, a big hurdle has been cleared. In addition to developing boundaries for the proposed city that reach from Cape Ninilchik on the north to approximately Mile 158 of the Sterling Highway on the south, the committee was required to gather structure and property values.

“(Fritsch) had to work with three different Web sites to compile the information and build a database ... and then Anchor Point got reassessed and we had to go back and do all the figures all over again. It kind of took the wind out of our sails,” Harvey said, adding, “But our feelings were to get it done right and then submit it.”

Now, he said, it’s time to proceed.

“If the folks here want it, fine. If they don’t, that’s fine, too,” Harvey said. “I believe they’re for it.”

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