The city of Soldotna’s petition to annex 2.63 square miles along Funny River Road, Kalifornsky Beach Road, the Kenai Spur Highway and the Sterling Highway south of town cleared another hurdle. Local Boundary Commission staff released their preliminary report on Soldotna’s annexation petition May 18 and found the petition meets state standards for annexation.
Staff found that the petition reasonably argues that annexation would be in the best interest of the state, because it would shift services to the city. The proposed annexation areas compliment the profile and character of current city boundaries. And it provides evidence that the city would be able to expand services to the new areas in an effective and efficient manner.
Nineteen people submitted comments on the city’s petition, 15 opposing annexation and four in support. However, the preliminary report is based on whether or not the petition meets state standards, not a head count of how many people were in favor vs. opposed.
The preliminary report is now open for public comments. Comments must be submitted in writing to email@example.com by 4:30 p.m. June 19. in reference to information in the report.
“Substantive comments. We’re not necessarily simply looking for people to say, ‘I approve of this’ or ‘I disapprove of this.’ We want comments specifically regarding the information that’s in the report,” said Jed Smith, local government specialist with the LBC.
Staff will consider comments and release a final report around July 20. Then the Local Boundary Commission will schedule a public hearing for the week of Aug. 3. Usually, the commission meets in the community filing the petition, and the city of Soldotna has requested an in-person hearing, but it might have to be a teleconference, given COVID-19.
“The commission is very sensitive to wanting to hear from as many people that will be affected by this petition and in every case would make efforts to hold a hearing in the community but right now we just haven’t been able to commit to that yet,” Smith said.
After the public hearing, the commission has up to 90 days to issue a decision on whether to approve the petition, deny it or modify it.
A written decision should be issued by early September. At that point, the public has 18 days to call for reconsideration and the commission has 30 days to reconsider.
If, after all that, the commission still approves the petition, it will be submitted to the Legislature within the first 10 days of the January 2021 session. The petition becomes effective 45 days later, unless the House and Senate reject the petition with a majority vote.