The Soldotna city council will vote on the next move toward annexation at its meeting next week.
A resolution is on the agenda that, if adopted, would direct city staff to draft a petition to the state local boundary commission looking into nine potential areas to be incorporated into the city. At this week’s planning and zoning commission meeting, there were questions about how soon that group might be involved in taking up new issues for new neighborhoods, but council member Linda Murphy told the commission there are likely to be some amendments to that list of nine areas.
“If we were going to entertain bringing in a residential neighborhood, personally, I’d want the people in that neighborhood to be able to vote on whether they want to be in the city or not. I don’t know why we would bring in a whole group of people who just don’t want to be here and have more unhappy voters. I don’t know that everyone feels that way, but I think there’s a general consensus to that on the council.”
If that petition is submitted, it’s still likely to be a couple years before it makes its way to the legislature, which has to decide if the town’s footprint will grow or not. The city’s director of planning and economic development, John Czarnezki, says part of that process includes putting together a plan that considers just how the new area or areas would be integrated.
“We’d be looking at some of those land use decisions, we’d be looking at how services are currently provided for example, who’s plowing the roads. Some of those things we’ll talk about and we’ll have some broad proposals, but we won’t develop any specific standards or implement any zoning districts or anything to that effect until the local boundary commission and ultimately the legislature, puts a stamp of approval on it.”
Even though it could be years until those issues are addressed, if these early discussions are any indication, there’s likely to be a hodge-podge of exemptions and some creative zoning to accommodate all those areas and uses, Murphy says.
“I would think there would be some grandfathering. One of the complaints I had from a business owner on K-Beach road is that it would cost them $50,000 to pave the parking lot and (the city) requires commercial establishments to have paved parking lots. Well, not necessarily. There could be a separate zoning district in those areas. Or if somebody had a use that we considered non-conforming, that would be grandfathered in, but if they ever wanted to change something, that’s when we could enforce what is required.”
The council will vote on that resolution to draft a petition for the state when it meets next Wednesday at 6 pm.