Alaska’s Local Boundary Commission has drafted its written decision on a new Petersburg borough and will be voting on that written draft next week.

Next Wednesday’s teleconference meeting will not be a chance for the commissioners to reconsider the actual decision itself on the borough. Local Government Specialist Brent Williams, a member of the commission staff, explained. “At the decisional meeting on June 1st, they approved the Petersburg petition and amended it to exclude the Tracy Arm watershed,” he said. “So the LBC has already made its decision. So next Wednesday the 22nd there’ll be a meeting to issue a written decision as is required by regulation and they will be, they have a draft decision before them and they will be amending it or approving it. But the commission already made it’s decision two months ago.”

The city of Petersburg petitioned to dissolve the city government and form a new borough government with expanded boundaries and municipal taxing authority over a larger area. The Petersburg borough would include the cities of Petersburg and Kupreanof, Mitkof and Woewodski Islands, a large portion of Kupreanof Island and the mainland from LeConte Bay to Holkham Bay.
Petersburg final map 6-27-12
The LBC’s draft written decision was completed and released this month. It outlines the vote by commissioners at that meeting in Petersburg June 1st and the reasons why the commission thinks Petersburg’s borough meets state standards.

It also includes updated descriptions of the proposed boundaries. The proposed borough is smaller than the original proposal by the city of Petersburg since the commission agreed with LBC staff to remove two mainland watersheds in Tracy Arm and Whiting River from the northern boundary. The new area for incorporation is 3,829 square miles including that change. It’s a difference of about 500 square miles of land and water from the original.

The city and borough of Juneau filed a competing petition seeking to annex some of the same mainland territory. Juneau’s annexation petition is still before the LBC. Staff reports on that are due out this fall and winter and the commission could vote on the Juneau petition in January.

Meanwhile, once Petersburg’s written decision is mailed out, after next week’s meeting, there’s a period of 18 days for individuals or groups or 30 days for the commission itself to seek reconsideration of a written decision. There’s four reasons to allow reconsideration in state administrative code, including a procedural error or new evidence. The written decision can also be challenged in court.

Once the LBC issues its written decision, the commission informs the state’s Division of Elections, which will conduct the vote on whether or not to incorporate the new borough. Ballots will be sent out by mail.