State sets new timeline for annexation petitions

Aug 30, 2016

Despite a delay to allow more time for the public to weigh in on a staff report and the comments its generated, competing petitions to annex parts of the Nushagak fishing district should be considered this fall.

Map of new borough proposed in the Local Boundary Commission preliminary staff report on Dillingham and Manokotak's competing annexation petitions.
Credit DCCED

Competing petitions to annex parts of the Nushagak fishing district could still go to the Legislature this winter, despite a delay this fall.

Dillingham and Manokotak have asked t to annex overlapping parts of the fishing grounds to get more revenue from the fishery. Those requests have drawn considerable feedback from others in the region – particularly after the state entity vetting the requests suggested a borough, instead. Under the latest timeline, the state’s Local Boundary Commission will hold a public hearing on the petitions in both communities in late November. That’s almost two months later than the late-September hearing that was planned earlier this summer.

The LBC set the new timeline at an Aug. 30 meeting in Anchorage. The hearing was originally planned for late September, but was delayed after the commission chair extended the public comment period through Sept. 19.

Before the hearing is held, a final LBC staff report on the competing petitions will also be published. That’s now expected out in October, under the timeline discussed at the late August meeting. Commission staff said the final report will have some changes compared to the earlier version, but did not indicate a problem with the new timeline.

After the public hearing, the commission will draft and publish a decision – and then there’s a waiting period during which reconsideration can be requested.

If the commission recommends annexation, it’s then up to the Legislature to give it the OK.  Despite those delays, the commission still expects to be in a position to make its recommendation to the Legislature during the next Legislative session, which begins in January 2017.

This is the latest of several delays for Dillingham, which applied first to annex the entire Nushagak District. Dillingham’s petition was put on hold this year after Manokotak submitted a competing petition to annex the Igushik Section, where many of its residents fish, so that both could be considered on one timeline.

This delay came after Ekuk, Clark’s Point and Portage Creek asked for extra time to respond to a comment letter from the state's commissioner of commerce, community and economic development that took a different position on the petitions than the commission's staff report had. That was submitted toward the end of the July comment period, so the villages said they hadn't been able to comment on the idea.

The preliminary LBC report called for the state to form a borough, instead of sorting out the two cities' requests to annex overlapping parts of the fishing district. Commissioner Chris Hladick's letter suggested amending and adopting the petitions from Dillingham and Manokotak, instead.

The commission also discussed the motion at its Aug. 30 meeting, but took no action. The public comment period had already been extended to allow people to weigh in on the commissioner’s letter, and the commission decided not to do anything else in response to the motion.