Soldotna expansion draws an objection

Posted: Friday, December 28, 2007

Soldotna officials have not yet decided whether to annex four sections of land into the city, but one resident of a potentially impacted area let the city council know he is not interested in becoming a Soldotnan.

"The property owners would be paying more (taxes) and not getting any more services," said Wayne Buchanan during the council meeting Wednesday night.

He said his neighborhood off Kalifornsky Beach Road near Community College Drive already receives fire protection from Central Emergency Services and on the rare occasion police are needed, Alaska State Troopers respond.

Soldotna Mayor Dave Carey told Buchanan the council was not slated to take any action Wednesday on whether or not to annex. One item listed on the council meeting agenda regarding annexation asked only if the Legislative Review Method is to be used when the city does decide to petition the Local Boundary Commission for annexing any of the four areas.

In a memo to Carey and the council, City Manager Tom Boedeker said the other alternative methods involve voting and because the four areas have different resident characteristics, "the other methods could be confusing since each of the areas may involve different issues."

During the council meeting, Boedeker pointed to one proposed annexation area neighboring Skyview High School. That area, he said, has no residents whatsoever.

The area where Buchanan resides, on the other hand, has more than 300 residents.

Boedeker also said annexation methods that involve voting are expensive.

"You're required to have a vote of the people in the city and the people outside the city," he said. "Setting up that type of special election is expensive when you're talking 300 people."

Newly elected Councilman Peter Micciche, who admitted to not being too versed in the annexation process, said, "Three hundred people is 8 percent of the population."

The subject of annexation is not new to the Soldotna City Council, which has been discussing it off and on for about three years.

In January this year, Leila Kimbrell, then special projects assistant to Boedeker, detailed the annexation process during a special work session of the city council.

Kimbrell listed several methods of annexation including the Legislative Review being recommended by Boedeker.

Cities may also opt to annex by election in the territory proposed for annexation, election in the proposed territory and within the existing city boundaries and election solely by city residents if the proposed area is uninhabited.

In a memo to the council, Kimbrell said, "A majority of petitions for annexation submitted by city governments use the legislative review method."

Regardless of the method selected, she said state regulations require local government to conduct at least two public hearings before a petition to annex is submitted. Then the Local Boundary Commission conducts its own public hearings in the proposed annexation area.

Buchanan wanted to know how property owners in the affected area would be notified.

Boedeker assured him public notices would be published in advance of any action being taken.

Micciche said he is not comfortable with the annexation process, and acting city clerk, Susan Wilcox told him a packet of annexation information was awaiting him in his city hall routing bin.

Before the council voted unanimously to use the Legislative Review Method, Boedeker said he has been told "no other annexation has had this many (public) hearings already, and we're not done."

Phil Hermanek can be reached at

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