If the city’s natural gas Special Assessment District proposal survives the ongoing vote of the property owners, a small simple change to the city’s plan could potentially save money for us all, as well as satisfying some opponents: Give neighborhoods — at least those in the second year of planned development — the opportunity to opt out by a majority vote of the properties in the neighborhood.
In 2013, according to the city’s plan, main lines will be installed throughout the city core and the Ocean Drive area, which are the cheaper and easier areas to develop. In 2014, lines will be extended to the Sterling Highway subdivisions, East and West Hills, Skyline, Kachemak Drive and the Spit.
These areas are more expensive to develop, so property owners in the flat lands must subsidize owners in the highlands and the Spit. If those owners don’t want the gas, they should be able to organize their neighbors to stop construction of the main line that would feed their own neighborhood. Look at the red lines in the yellow area on city’s map www.cityofhomer-ak.gov/naturalgas/construction-map.
Some main lines feed large areas, but there are many small branches that could be eliminated if owners oppose them, without any general impact, other than saving money for all. Owners in these neighborhoods could arrange to hook up in the future, at their own expense, if they choose.
The Spit in particular deserves public debate. It will be very costly to all of us to extend the line out 4½ miles, then most of the land owners will be forced to pay monthly minimum hookup bills to Enstar, along with all their other hook up costs — all for gas they may use only four months a year, if at all. If Spit property owners choose to opt out, we would all save money.