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Businesses decry annexation plan

Posted: Friday, February 29, 2008

Now that the hue and cry of homeowners has been quelled by the redrawing of boundary lines around some areas Soldotna seeks to annex, business owners are raising a din against the city's growth idea, one going so far as to threaten a legal fight.

Expressing disapproval of Soldotna's plan to annex about 275 acres north of Knight Drive, known as the Ridgeway Area, Travis Swanson, of Ron's Honda Center on the Kenai Spur Highway, said, "I'm going to battle this all the way up."

The Soldotna City Council on Wednesday passed an ordinance authorizing City Manager Tom Boedeker to file a petition to annex four areas bordering the city.

Area 1, referred to as "Funny River Road," includes property between Funny River Road and the Kenai River from the Sterling Highway to the Soldotna Municipal Airport; Area 2, the "Kalifornsky Beach Area," is south of Kalifornsky Beach Road to Tagala Avenue, from the Alaska State Troopers "E" Detachment Headquarters to Slikok Creek; Area 3, the "Ridgeway Area," includes land north of Knight Drive to Spruce Avenue and Ridgeway Road from Pioneer Drive to Mackey Lake Road; and Area 4, the "Skyview Area," contains 485 acres from the intersection of Kalifornsky Beach Road and the Sterling Highway up to and including Skyview High School. The area also includes the large tract of Kenai Peninsula Borough land used by the Tsalteshi Trail Association.

After hearing protests from dozens of homeowners in Area 2 and some in Area 1 two weeks ago, the city redrew boundary lines of those two proposed areas to the apparent satisfaction of the homeowners. Boundaries of Areas 3 and 4 were not changed.

"I own a 60-acre gravel pit in Ridgeway," said Jack Foster on Wednesday. "Annexation is going to create lots of problems for us.

"I'm totally opposed to this," Foster said. "I would like you to consider taking that 60 acres out."

Steve Stenga, a real estate developer who said he resides on Edgington Road, in Sterling, said he has not heard anybody speak in favor of the proposed annexation.

He said his company has undeveloped properties in three of the proposed areas, and he does not see that he will receive any benefit from having them annexed into the city.

"With zoning and all the city rules, it costs a lot more to develop property," Stenga said.

Saying he has attended the previous public hearings and heard only opposition to the plan, Stenga said, "I would hope you guys listen to that."

Before authorizing the annexation petition to be filed with the Local Boundary Commission, the council amended the boundaries of Area 1 to include all lots along Funny River and Oehler roads fronting on the Kenai River as well as the Spenard Builders Supply property. Also amended were the boundaries of Area 2 removing residential property south of Damon and Lavonne avenues, the areas lodging the most protests two weeks ago.

Boedeker said, based on the amendments, the petition documents would need to be changed and a new draft could be ready by the end of April. He said the petition would likely not be filed with the boundary commission until mid- to late June.

Because the commission needs to deliberate and conduct public hearings of its own before forwarding the petition to the Legislature, and filing must be made to the Legislature in the first few days of a legislative session, Boedeker said it is likely the commission would not be able to submit the proposal to the state Legislature until 2010.

Phil Hermanek can be reached at phillip.hermanek@peninsulaclarion.com.



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