Originally published in the Peninsula Clarion
The Alaska State Local Boundary Commission released their 2018 annual report for the upcoming state legislative session, which reviews the Local Boundary Commission’s activities in 2018.
While no local boundaries changed in 2018, several areas across Alaska are seeking to modify or create new borders, including Nikiski, Girdwood and Soldotna.
In June 2018, the Soldotna City Council passed a resolution to start drafting a petition to annex select areas adjacent to city limits, including a 0.6-square-mile area along Kalifornsky Beach Road.
The report said, “Local Boundary Commission staff provided information and documentation to city staff engaged in drafting the petition.”
The report said staff at the Local Boundary Commission has not been informed when the draft petition will be completed.
John Czarnezki, director of economic development and planning for the city of Soldotna, said the city is still working on developing the petition.
Once the draft is complete it will be presented to the Soldotna City Council. Then, if it’s approved, it will be sent to the Local Boundary Commission for consideration.
If the petition is submitted to the Local Boundary Commission, members of the public will be welcomed for public comment. If the Local Boundary Commission approves the city’s petition, the decision to annex will be in the hands of state lawmakers at the following legislative session.
State law allows municipalities to expand their boundaries through the legislative review process or through voter approval. The legislative process requires municipalities to send a petition to the Local Boundary Commission, and from there the Local Boundary Commission may present proposed changes to the legislature during the first 10 days of any regular session. Unless the recommendation is denied, any changes will be approved 45 days after the initial presentation or at the end of the session, whichever comes first.
In 2014, the city of Soldotna began gathering information about changing its boundaries through the legislative process.
In the summer of 2018, the Soldotna City Council voted to draft a petition for the annexation of seven areas surrounding Soldotna. The draft would need to be approved before being sent to the Local Boundary Commission — a process that would not allow residents to vote on the issue.
In September, the Kenai Peninsula Borough passed a resolution opposing the city of Soldotna’s plan to annex surrounding areas without giving residents the ability to vote on the issue.