Public can comment on Petersburg borough plan

Petersburg’s plan to form a borough meets state standards, according to a preliminary report by staff for the Alaska Local Boundary Commission.

The report recommends the commission approve the borough petition mostly as presented, but leaving Tracy Arm and the Whiting River out of the most northeast portion of the proposed borough, adjacent to Juneau. Petersburg Mayor Al Dwyer says that was expected, because Juneau could document more activity there.

“That was one of the concessions we were willing to make anyway,” Dwyer says.

The LBC staff recommendation would leave most of Petersburg’s proposed borough territory intact. The City and Borough of Juneau has a pending competing petition to annex nearly half that territory, including Holkum, Windham and Hobart bays as well as Port Houghton and Cape Fanshaw. Both communities claim current and historic ties to the largely undeveloped lands and waterways.

Juneau Mayor Bruce Bothello says Juneau will stay involved in the issue as the process continues.

“It appears that the staff has not given any weight to the information that we provided about Juneau’s historic use to areas to and including Hobart Bay, and that’s an issue of concern to us,” Botelho says.

The Petersburg Borough would encompass an area roughly a hundred times the size of its current city limits. It would include the small, neighboring city of Kupreanof, which has opposed the plan along with many other outlying residents.

The public has until March 28th to comment on the boundary commission’s preliminary report. The commission itself is slated hold a hearing in late May before it decides whether to allow the Petersburg’s petition to move ahead.