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Planning panel to set up annexation study

The Nome Planning Commission has charged the City’s contract planner with looking farther into the pros and cons of drawing new city limits around outlying areas by annexation.
The work would look into benefits for both sides of the current line as well as drawbacks for the “ins” and “outs” should annexation—a several year process—occur. The study will concentrate on costs and benefits related to utility service delivery, police protection and fire calls.
“This is a decision to research annexation. This is not on the decision to annex,” NPC President Tom Sparks made perfectly clear.
City Manager Josie Bahnke handed the commission the job to develop a work plan on how to proceed with researching the potential annexation effort, identified as a high priority in Nome’s Comprehensive Plan 2020 approved by Nome Common Council earlier this year.
Among other issues, Eileen Bechtol of Bechtol Associates will look into current availability and cost of services in and outside the City’s boundaries: fire calls, ambulance services, utilities, police protection, Nome Police Dept. and Alaska State Trooper services.
In other business the panel continued to look at ways to encourage code compliance. One program getting a close look would divide the town into grids by map, pull grid numbers out of a hat, and concentrate enforcement for cleanup, abandoned cars, abatement of shacks and violations of building codes.
“Issues need to be addressed. We can start with taking small bites of the elephant,” Commissioner Randy Romenesko said.
The planning commission has been looking, as has the Nome Common Council, for ways to put teeth in City codes that are being ignored. Both are considering to give the public works director and building inspector the power to issue citations and assess fines to abate violations of building permits, moving permits, fill permits and zoning violations.
The Nome Common Council on Monday adopted an ordinance to allow traffic fines and forfeitures to flow into the City’s treasury. The commission agreed with the measure and voiced a desire to look at adding the building codes to the violations.
“We could make it hurt a little bit but not take them to the cleaners,” Sparks said.
“It has to be enough to get their attention,” Commissioner Charlie Weiss added.
In other business the commission learned that Nome Eskimo Community has withdrawn a variance request for 300 McLain Lane where the housing department wished to build a new home for Della Walluk. The small lot presents setback issues and encroachment into the platted utility easement. Nome Joint Utility System did not approve the encroachment for safety reasons.
“While it appears there would be 10 -12-foot clearance between the primary power wire and the roof, communications utilities are also permitted on the power poles and there would be significantly less clearance,” wrote John Handeland, NJUS manager. “In the event of a fire, if the burning structure was directly underneath high voltage lines, flames would more likely impact the utilities and endanger fire fighters.”
NEC will go back to the drawing board to find another solution.

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