The City and Borough of Juneau will not be annexing Funter Bay.
During a lengthy voting process Monday night, the CBJ Assembly members decided to withdraw the small portion from its annexation application. The city is still leaving other portions of Admiralty Island — including the Glass Peninsula, Pack Creek and Horse and Colt Islands — as well as a triangle-shaped portion on the mainland including Tracy Arm in the application.
The decision came after Assembly member Rob Edwardson proposed taking all of the proposed areas of land on Admiralty Island out of the application. Since the Assembly decided in January to go through with annexation of the areas of the island, there has been a great deal of public outcry from people in Angoon and those who own land at Funter Bay.
“Before the last meeting, there was opposition to this,” Edwardson said. “During the last meeting, the opposition grew. To me, the opposition grew exponentially after the last meeting. If that wasn’t clear at the last meeting, it’s a lot clearer now.”
Edwardson isn’t the only Assembly member to notice the pushback, and there were multiple Angoon residents in attendance Monday including Mayor Pauline Jim. Angoon is not in an area the CBJ is annexing, but it’s the largest community on the island and has opposed any possible CBJ expansion to Admiralty.
Jim pointed out that over the years Angoon has been a good neighbor to Juneau, including supporting Juneau during past attempts to move the capital away. Now, as she put it, Juneau is returning the favor by expanding its borders onto Admiralty Island.
“It looks like a jigsaw puzzle,” Jim said of the map showing the areas that are included in the city’s application.
The main argument for annexing the areas, as city officials have explained, is that the areas in question are all included in the so-called “model borough boundary” identified by the Local Boundary Commission (LBC). In the early 1990s, the LBC conducted research and identified the land that should go to each borough throughout the state.
City officials identified four areas of land (three on Admiralty and one on the mainland) that were not included in any borough but that were included in Juneau’s model borough. As Assembly members have explained in past meetings, it’s important to apply to add these lands as soon as possible because the first applicant historically has a better chance of being approved in the LBC’s process.
Edwardson proposed removing all three areas on Admiralty Island from the city’s application. At the request of Assembly member Jesse Kiehl, the Assembly members divided up the proposed amendment and voted on all three of the portions of land on Admiralty.
The areas had already been approved by a vote at the January meeting, and City Attorney Amy Mead pointed out that the Assembly members would have to have a “super-majority” to overturn that previous decision. In other words, the Assembly members had to vote by a margin of 6-3 to overturn the previous decision.
The Assembly members voted 5-4 to take the Glass Peninsula out of the application, but because it wasn’t a two-thirds majority vote, the Glass Peninsula will remain in the application.
Assembly member Beth Weldon proposed taking Funter Bay specifically out of the application, and that motion passed by the necessary 6-3 margin. Deputy Mayor Jerry Nankervis and Assembly members Mary Becker and Maria Gladziszewski voted to keep Funter Bay in the application. Keeping the area out of the application means that those who own property at Funter Bay will not have to pay property tax to the CBJ.
Ben and Charly Musielak, two Juneau residents who own property at Funter Bay, were at Monday’s meeting. Kiehl stated that the Funter Bay property owners he’s heard from have asserted that they would rather have Funter Bay in a borough with Angoon than with Juneau. At that comment, Charly nodded her head emphatically.
The Musielaks intend to move to Funter Bay full-time when they retire, Ben said, and others in Funter Bay have said they feel that area has much more in common with Angoon than it does with Juneau. As happy as they were to see Funter Bay stay out of the CBJ, the Musielaks said they hope the city backs off from taking the proposed portions of Admiralty.
“It was a win for the folks in Funter Bay,” Ben said, “but not as a whole.”
• Contact reporter Alex McCarthy at 523-2271 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @akmccarthy.