Homer Alaska - Letters

Story last updated at 3:07 PM on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Inspired by council meeting #2

I am pleased that natural gas is coming to the Homer area. However, I have several concerns about the process under way for its distribution. The city is on a very aggressive schedule to have Enstar install lines throughout town in the next two summers. Public meetings at the Homer High School in October will be followed by assessment notices in November. Unless more than 50 percent of the owners of all lots in the city object before the January council public hearing, every lot owner will pay an estimated $3,283 for access to natural gas whether they intend to connect or not.

This timeline is too fast for adequate education and deliberation. Although the city has an excellent website dedicated to the gas line, many people have not been following this project and dont know they should learn more about it. Many city lot owners do not live in Homer and have no idea this is in the works. Homeowners need more time to learn about conversion and all potential costs. Developers and owners of vacant land need more time to decide if this improvement is in their best interest at this time. We need more time to inform people that the project is happening.

Requiring more than 50 percent of all city parcel owners to formally object to inclusion in the natural gas assessment district in order for the district to be redrawn is unreasonable. It would be better to require a majority favorable response to the district, especially since the city has initiated the process rather than a group of interested individuals. The borough, for example, requires 70 percent of the owners of affected lots to approve a petition for a utility assessment district. The city council made changes to the process earlier this year to facilitate utility construction, which I believe make it too burdensome for individuals to resist.

City-wide access to natural gas is wonderful if thats what most city lot owners want, but it is important for everyone to participate and learn about this project in order to make a city-wide decision to proceed.

Mary Griswold