KENAI — The Kenai Peninsula Borough is urging the city of Soldotna to seek voter approval in its efforts to annex surrounding areas.
The borough assembly voted Tuesday to oppose Soldotna’s plans, sending a resolution to encourage city officials to allow residents who live in the proposed annexation areas to vote on the issue, the Peninsula Clarion reported.
Alaska law allows cities to expand municipal boundaries through a legislative review process or through voter approval. The review process requires cities to petition the Local Boundary Commission, which might present the proposed boundary changes to the Legislature for approval.
The Soldotna City Council drafted a petition to annex seven areas earlier this summer after beginning a process of collecting information on boundary changes through the legislative process in 2014.
Each of the proposed annex areas is small, with the largest at about one square mile, according to an online description by the city. Together the parcels would add just under four square miles to the city, which describes annexation as a way to promote, among other things, the "orderly high-quality development" and the "cost-effective extension of public services."
Assembly member Norm Blakely and borough Mayor Charlie Pierce had opposed the city's annexation proposal through the legislative process, saying residents deserve the opportunity to weigh in on the plans. They sent a memo to the assembly last month.
"The affected property owners are not all voters, but all voters in the existing limits of the city of Soldotna and who reside in the proposed areas for annexation will be impacted by the annexation, if it is approved," the memo states.
The memo states numerous residents have voiced opposition to the annexation if it's conducted without voter approval.
“Many residents in the areas selected for annexation intentionally chose to live outside of the city limits,” the memo states. “Those people and many residents of the city want to be able to vote on this question.”