State verifies Nikiski petition to incorporate

Editor’s note: This article has been corrected to show that Seldovia is a first-class city, not a home-rule city.

The Local Boundary Commission is seeking public comment on a petition for Nikiski to become its own home-rule city.

A citizen group, Citizens for Nikiski Inc., organized and submitted a petition to the state in October for signature verification. The proposed city limits follow the boundaries of the current Nikiski Fire and Emergency Service Area, which stretches across Cook Inlet to include a chunk of land on the inlet’s west side, including the Alaska Native villages of Tyonek and Beluga. If the petition is approved as written, the city of Nikiski will include 5,480 square miles, an area slightly smaller than the state of Connecticut.

The Alaska Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development, of which the Local Boundary Commission is a part, found the group’s petition substantially complete on Dec. 30, according to the group’s website.

The verification of the signatures doesn’t mean the incorporation is a go, though. The Local Boundary Commission still has to approve the petition and there has to be a public review process, according to a public notice about the petition.

“If the (Local Boundary Commission) approves this petition, incorporation will be subject to a vote by registered voters within the proposed city,” the notice states.

The driving interests for the incorporation effort are to ensure residents’ tax dollars are used locally and to give incoming businesses a local government to contact. Because Nikiski is currently an unincorporated community, its immediate governing authority is the Kenai Peninsula Borough government, with service areas set up for its fire and emergency medical services, roads, recreation and senior services.

If Nikiski’s citizens vote to incorporate, those responsibilities will pass to the city government. A mayor and council would be elected in the same vote as the vote to incorporate. The petition proposed Nikiski as a home-rule city, the same status as Homer, Seward, Kenai and Soldotna, with an eight-member council and a voting mayor, as previously reported by the Clarion.

The Local Boundary Commission will review the petition in accordance with Alaska statute — which includes stipulations like the proposed area must be a community and must demonstrate a “reasonable need for city government,” according to the statute.

Citizens for Nikiski Inc. is planning another town hall event after the state found the application complete, according to the group’s website.

Those wishing to review the petition and offer public comment can do so at a variety of locations: the Nikiski Post Office, the Treehouse Restaurant Community Board, the Studio in Nikiski, the Nikiski Library, the Native Village of Tyonek Tribal Office in Tyonek, on the Citizens for Nikiski Inc.’s website or on the Local Boundary Commission’s website.

Those wishing to comment can do so by 4:30 p.m. on March 8 by submitting written comments to the Local Boundary Commission staff at 550 W. 7th Ave., Ste. 1640, Anchorage, AK, 99501. Comments can also submitted to LBC@alaska.gov.

 

Reach Elizabeth Earl at elizabeth.earl@peninsulaclarion.com.

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