The sign welcoming residents to Nikiski along the Sterling Highway as seen on Monday. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

The sign welcoming residents to Nikiski along the Sterling Highway as seen on Monday. (Photo by Brian Mazurek/Peninsula Clarion)

Nikiski incorporation efforts continue with amended petition in the works

The Local Boundary Commission recently drafted their annual report to the first session of the 31st Alaska State Legislature.

Included in the report is the current status of the petition to incorporate Nikiski into its own municipality. According to the report, the Local Boundary Commission is awaiting a final amended petition to be submitted for consideration.

The incorporation effort is led by the Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation, which submitted the original petition in December 2016.

The petition was accepted for filing by the Local Boundary Commission, and over the course of 2017 was subject to a public comment period, informational sessions and a preliminary report by LBC staff. Taking into account the public comments and an analysis of regulatory standards, the preliminary report recommended denying the Nikiski incorporation petition.

The report stated the potential city “seeks more than it intends to offer” in the way of government services. The proposed boundaries — which included the communities of Tyonek and Beluga as well as a portion of Lake Clark National Park and Preserve — would have made the city of Nikiski approximately 5,480 square miles. The proposed city limits are based on the current service boundaries for the Nikiski Fire Service, the North Peninsula Recreation Area and Nikiski Senior Service.

The Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation argued that the preliminary report was handled improperly and with a bias against Nikiski incorporation. They maintain that the petition should have been sent back to the citizen group for revision after the technical review process and before the preliminary report was submitted.

Following the preliminary report, Stacy Oliva, co-chair of the Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation, requested that the petition be brought back to the pre-technical review phase. This would have allowed the group to make changes to the petition without recollecting signatures from registered Nikiski voters.

All five of the governor-appointed commissioners on the Local Boundary Commission voted down this request.

The commission did grant a postponement of one year on the decision-making process, which would allow the Citizens for Nikiski Incorporation to change their proposal.

The citizen group submitted a draft amended petition to the Local Boundary Commission in October 2018, which underwent an informal technical review to highlight any regulatory insufficiencies in the petition.

After the final amended petition is submitted, the commission will determine — based on the changes made — if an additional round of signature collection will be required.

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