Plans to annex four neighboring areas into the city of Soldotna were stopped dead in their tracks Friday by a veto of the mayor.
To force individuals and businesses to become part of the city "creates hostility of attitude and behavior," said Mayor Dave Carey in a veto statement issued just two days after the Soldotna City Council unanimously approved filing a petition with the state to annex the four areas.
The veto was only the third exercised by Carey since becoming mayor in 2001. Previously, he vetoed an ordinance that would have exempted adult-oriented businesses holding a liquor license from a new rule allowing them to remain open from midnight until 5 a.m. He also vetoed a sign ordinance, which would have made a number of existing Soldotna business freestanding signs non-conforming because of their height or their placement within a proposed 20-foot setback.
The ordinance passed by the council last week sought to annex property along Funny River and Kalifornsky Beach roads into the city, as well as a band of property north of the city's Knight Drive boundary and a large tract of land extending southwest from the intersection of the Sterling Highway and Kalifornsky Beach Road and including Skyview High School.
Following loud protests from homeowners, particularly in the Kalifornsky Beach Road area, the council amended that area's proposed boundary omitting nearly all the residential properties. The Funny River Road area was amended as well, but the other areas, known as Ridgeway and Skyview were not altered.
A number of business owners objected to the proposed annexation of Ridgeway on Wednesday.
In Carey's veto statement, he said, "If the people in the three inhabited areas of annexation (Funny River Road, Kalifornsky Beach Road and Ridgeway) were allowed to exercise their vote on annexation, I would support the ordinance.
"Instead, they have overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to annexation," he said.
The city had planned to petition the state Local Boundary Commission to annex the four areas collectively using the legislative review method. Unlike other methods, legislative review does not require voter approval of city residents or people living in the impacted areas.
When the Legislature approves or denies a petition for annexation under that method, it is deemed to be acting in the best interests of the state, including the residents of the area proposed for annexation.
Carey indicated he does not believe the state required explanation of the standards for annexation fit, following the amendments that were made to the ordinance Wednesday.
He opened his statement by saying the country is built upon a social contract of "popular sovereignty, limited government and consent of the governed."
In addition to the philosophical reasons for opposing the amended ordinance, Carey pointed to financial hardships the action might impose on property owners in the annexed areas.
Interest rates on some state loans differ inside and outside the city, he said, adding "... individuals in the areas to be annexed, could actually be harmed financially if annexed."
If the rates were the same, Carey said he would be "more inclined to support annexation."
He said it is unlikely the state would complete the annexation petition process until 2011, and, "It is not good policy to have this issue hanging over our collective heads for four more years."
The city council has the authority to override the veto. An override requires a two-thirds majority of the council.
Phil Hermanek can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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