Way paved for Homer annexation

Posted: Friday, February 22, 2002

The Alaska House Community and Regional Affairs Committee voted 6-1 Thursday against sending a resolution opposing the annexation of 4.6 square miles of territory to the city of Homer, effectively paving the way for the annexation to become law March 9.

Only committee co-chair Carl Morgan, R-Aniak, supported Joint Resolution 34.

The Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committee was to consider the resolution today, but Tuesday, Sen. John Torgerson, R-Kasilof, who chairs the Senate committee, said that the committee would not bother discussing the measure if the House committee voted not to send it to the House floor.

According to Mary Jackson in Torgerson's office, the committee meeting for today has been canceled.

The joint resolution would have to pass both houses in order for Homer's annexation to be disapproved.

Rep. Drew Scalzi, R-Homer, in whose district Homer lies, had been noncommittal prior to the vote, but in the end elected not to support Joint Resolution 34. Scalzi was in committee meetings and could not be reached for comment by late Thursday afternoon.

Homer Mayor Jack Cushing said he believes the committee made the right decision regarding the annexation.

"Now we can get on with the other business of the city," he said.

Annexation opponent Pete Roberts, president of Citizens Concerned About Annexation, expressed disappointment. How-ever, he said the problem was with the process, not with the city, which simply took advantage of the system that was in place.

"Apparently we didn't scream bloody murder enough," he said. "This whole annexation, as enabled by the Local Boundary Commis-sion's regulations and rules, allowed this political hijacking by the city of Homer."

The city used the legislative review annexation process, which does not require a vote of the people to be annexed. Roberts said the process was "an end run" around the people permitted by the boundary commission. He warned that the Homer annexation has revealed a statewide problem that must be addressed.

Cushing said he is glad the committee separated the process issue from the annexation itself.

"We said all along that we were locked into the existing procedure," he said.

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