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Juneau draws lines for its counter-annexation proposal

Goldbelt wants Hobart Bay land to remain unincorporated

Posted: October 11, 2011 - 12:02am
  Provided by the City and Borough of Juneau
Provided by the City and Borough of Juneau

The City and Borough of Juneau has released the first draft of a specific boundary it will seek in an annexation proposal, countering Petersburg’s initiative to form a borough.

Previously, Juneau had yet to determine where it would draw the line — either to the extent of previous state “model boundaries” or a little further south to encompass the entire watershed.

The draft maps the Assembly saw on Monday night showed the proposed boundary encompassing the entire watershed.

“In the research we’ve been doing, despite what the mayor of Petersburg says, we think we have a pretty good argument for annexing the area we’ve shown here,” said City Manager Rod Swope.

Maps drafted show Juneau’s existing boundary and variations with what the city will propose, what Petersburg is proposing and the contested area. Draft maps show also where Juneau’s proposed boundary fits in with the Alaska Recording Districts (71.4 percent of the landmass is associated with Juneau, 25.7 percent Petersburg), the Juneau Ranger District (93.7 percent Juneau, 6.3 percent Petersburg), and state game units (92.6 percent Juneau, 7.4 percent Petersburg).

Swope said the reason they drew the proposed new southern borough boundary they way they did is because of the natural watershed district. It essentially runs midway between Port Houghton and Farragut Bay, and in between Dawes and Baird.

He said it is important to draw the line like that because of resource management, as well as wildlife and tourism management.

The Assembly did not contest staff’s recommendation for the annexation proposal, however Assemblyman Merrill Sanford addressed Goldbelt, Inc.’s latest letter.

The letter was written by Goldbelt Vice President of Operations Derek Duncan. Goldbelt is a majority land owner in the area, and both borough proposals could encompass its 30,000 acres of land at Hobart Bay.

“Goldbelt has been reviewing its borough options since then (Goldbelt’s first response letter in August) and is now requesting that its lands at Hobart Bay remain part of the Unorganized Borough and not be annexed into the proposed Petersburg Borough or the City and Borough of Juneau,” Duncan wrote. “Goldbelt will continue to study its options and will make a statement of its borough preference to the Local Boundary Commission in the near future.”

Sanford asked if Juneau doesn’t include those lands in its proposal, would they be assigned to Petersburg?

City Attorney John Hartle said Sanford is making a political judgement on what the Local Boundary Commission will do, but that kind of action would be consistent with past commission annexations.

“The Local Boundary Commission will make the ultimate decision to where the boundaries are,” said Mayor Bruce Botelho. “It could reach the conclusion that neither borough should cover this area. Absent our intervention, there will be only one petition asserting that claim.”

Hartle has prepared an ordinance for introduction, based off of a sample from the commission, that is expected to appear at the Assembly meeting Oct. 17. Typically there isn’t discussion on ordinances for introduction, as those are usually approved via the consent agenda. It would likely appear at the following Assembly meeting for public hearing and Assembly vote.

• Contact reporter Sarah Day at 523-2279 or at sarah.day@juneauempire.com.

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