Letters to the Editor

Posted: Friday, March 22, 2002

Annexation process contentious; it's time for healing to begin

On Feb. 21, the House Community and Regional Affairs Committee brought an end to the House annexation issue.

A motion to pass House Joint Resolution 18 out of the committee failed on a 6-to-1 vote. The failure of the House to move HJR 39 clearly meant that Senate action on my companion resolution, Senate Joint Resolution 34 was to no avail.

During the House and Senate Community and Regional Affairs Committees joint meeting, I stated that if we did not oppose the current Homer annexation there would be "shivers of fear all over Alaska." In fact, my office received calls from residents in Nikiski, Kasilof and Sterling wondering if their homes could be next.

This has been an extremely contentious issue for the residents of the south Kenai Peninsula. It pitted neighbor against neighbor and forced annexation on hundreds of people who were never given the opportunity to vote on the issue. Although the annexation by the city of Homer was not illegal, it certainly was not presented to the community in a "user friendly" manner. The correspondence, testimony and calls received by my office were 3 to 1 against the annexation, and included many residents of Homer.

The Local Boundary Commission must step up to the plate and take into account the views of the residents of areas adjacent to cities. The process we just went through was not good public policy. The commission recently revised some of its regulations, but failed to do any changes in a "land grab" situation like this one. It clearly was aware of my concerns after I filed SJR 16 over a year ago.

It is time for the healing process to begin and the duty and responsibility to accomplish this belongs to all of us. I have a few suggestions:

Homer's elected officials need to honor the pledge they made to truncate their terms and stand for re-election.

Homer's elected officials need to amend their ordinances to assure the residents of the newly annexed area can run for election this year.

Homer's elected officials need to work closely with the new areas to provide for smooth transfer of services.

Newly annexed area residents should work with the city.

I would like to extend my thanks to annexation supporters and opponents alike for contacting me and providing me with their viewpoints.

Sen. John Torgerson, Kasilof

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