A superior court judge has affirmed the northern boundary of the Petersburg borough approved by the state’s Local Boundary Commission in 2012. The city and borough of Juneau had contested that decision and was seeking to annex some of the same land into its boundaries.
Superior court judge Louis Menendez issued his decision on the last day of February. Menendez ruled that the LBC considered the most appropriate boundary for Petersburg and did consider arguments from Juneau.
The contested lands are on the mainland from the middle of Holkham Bay to Cape Fanshaw. The decision means those lands will remain under the jurisdiction of Petersburg’s new borough.
Juneau argued that the Local Boundary Commission did not properly consider evidence submitted by officials in the capital city. They also argued that the contested area was more closely associated with Juneau. Petersburg officials claimed stronger ties to the area and argued that Juneau’s evidence was considered when the L-B-C took up their borough incorporation petition.
Judge Menendez also wrote that there was no requirement for the L-B-C to compare both communities’ interests and connections to the contested area.
Juneau City Attorney Amy Mead says they can still appeal the decision to the Alaska Supreme Court. But that won’t be her call. “I think that there were some significant legal problems with the analysis. But I really feel I need to apprise the (CBJ) Assembly of that before I am more specific.”
Meanwhile, Petersburg mayor Mark Jensen was boarding an Alaska Airlines flight Tuesday morning to take him right past the contested lands on his way to Juneau for the regional high school basketball tournament. Jensen was happy about the ruling. “Well I think that’s great. We’ve been going through the transition period already and spending some of the money the state has supplied us to go through the transition period to this point and changing a lot of ordinances and hopefully there’s not an appeal by the Juneau borough and it’ll just stand and we’ll move forward. It’s kindof a relief to have it behind us, if it is behind us I guess.”
Petersburg dissolved its city government and became a borough government after voters approved the change in late 2012. Petersburg officials also warned that invalidating the current voter-approved boundaries would create chaos with dissolution of their municipality and a restarting of the borough incorporation process.