Voices of the Peninsula: Those affected by annexation should have say in the matter

  • By Brian Olson
  • Tuesday, October 27, 2015 2:57pm
  • Opinion

The city of Soldotna has finally announced the areas they have selected for annexation. Maps showing the exact areas can be found at http://peninsulaclarion.com/opinion/2015-10-24/voices-of-the-peninsula-soldotna-focuses-areas-for-annexation-study (Peninsula Clarion, Oct. 25). The new map could not be found on the city’s website as of Oct. 24.

Our group, “Borough Residents Against Annexation,” was formed in March 2015 in response to the city resurrecting this highly contentious issue. Our group, its members, borough businesses, and other borough residents have made it clear that we are opposed to any attempts at forced annexation.

We have polled businesses in the path of this land grab and 99 out of 100 stated they were against any annexation. We circulated petitions and gathered over a thousand signatures of borough residents also stating they were against annexation. We attended city meetings where it was standing-room-only, where the public testimony was clearly against annexation. All to fall on deaf ears, except for one councilwoman and the student rep. These two were the only ones who truly understand the democratic process of listening to the will of the people and should be commended.

The city attempts to assuage everyone opposed to annexation by claiming they are “only studying” this and there will be plenty of public input.

We find this disingenuous.

The city has proven time and again that no matter how many people testify, sign petitions, attend workshops and city meetings, matters nothing. They continue to barge ahead pursuing annexation, mindless to the emotional and financial costs and wellbeing of borough residents whose lives and freedoms will be forever changed.

Many of us went through this from 2005-2008 when they first tried annexation. Public input and involvement then showed the same overwhelming opposition to annexation. In the end, all of the public involvement meant nothing. The council voted 5-0 for annexation. It was only stopped by Mayor Carey’s veto. He was the only one who listened and followed the will of the people.

The city has now spent $50,000 to pay a research firm from Anchorage to conduct an economic feasibility study. The original amount slated was $150,000 with a large portion earmarked to research public input. They did away with the extra $100,000 stating they would do an economic study first.

What does that tell you about how interested they are in hearing from the residents who will be directly impacted?

Now the actual war begins with the battle lines drawn on the map. Nine territories to be fought over. Nine territories to expand the tax base of Soldotna. Promises are continually made about public involvement. Promises are made in the city being transparent. Promises are made in how annexation may affect you.

We are tired of false promises. What is reality is the 409 pages of city codes and regulations that will be forced upon every borough resident once they are annexed by the city. People decide to live where they do because of the certain freedoms, liberties, and lifestyles that are important to them and their families.

We are a nation of laws, not promises. The law, code, and regulations are what we live by, not politician’s or administrator’s promises. There are several ways for the city to annex. In 2005-2008, the method the city selected was through the local boundary commission. This did not require the vote of the people in the areas selected for annexation. In other words, forced annexation. This is why Mayor Carey vetoed it, saying that went against the principles that our country was founded on.

Another method is voluntary annexation.

If any area proposed for annexation voluntarily and by a majority vote of those living and having businesses there, wants to be annexed, then by all means go for it. That is how it should be done.

Another method allows for the people in the designated areas to vote whether to be annexed. That is all we have ever asked of the city — the right to have our vote cast in whether we wish to live in the city limits or not.

All Americans should have the fundamental right to vote on a matter that will have a huge impact on individuals, families, and businesses.

These are the same principles that our forefathers fought and died for. The right to life, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

If the city wants to be transparent, if the city wants to be forthright, if the city truly cares about democracy and public input, then put this to a public vote now before any more time and money is wasted.

Time for the city to quit playing games with people’s lives and disclose to the public which method of annexation they plan on using. No more politicians’ and administrators’ promises, put it in writing.

To say they are not sure at this stage of the game is insincere and an outright attempt to mislead the public.

Whether or not you live in the areas selected, stand together with all borough residents who are opposed to forced annexation. If you live in an area that is currently being overlooked, you are not off of the hook. It will be just a matter of time before your area will be annexed and you will not have the voices nor support of those who were annexed before you. We can defeat the city by all joining together to fight this cause.

Call or write the Borough Mayor, www.kpb.us/mayor/about-mayor.

Call or write your Borough Assembly representative, www.kpb.us/assembly-clerk/meet-the-assembly.

Call or write the Soldotna council members, soldotna.org/government/mayor-council.

Join us in our fight against forced annexation. Email againstannex@gmail.com or visit the Facebook page Borough Residents Against Annexation.

Brian Olson is a member of Borough Residents Against Annexation.