MAT-SU—A ballot question on towers, a delayed sewer-and-water-rate increase, new land for West Lakes Fire are among the items that were considered by the Matanuska-Susitna Borough Assembly Tues. July 19.
A rate increase for the Talkeetna Sewer & Water Service Area was delayed by the Assembly for 90 days. The rate increase was triggered by an anticipated $100,000 deficit for the system’s 2012 operating budget. Assemblymember Vern Halter said he does not mind a rate increase that is lower and fair, but is trying to find alternate sources of funding to offset the costs of a utility with few consistent users. The increase is $44.35 per month for the 188 active accounts. Some 2,000 to 3,000 tourists use the system in summer, he said. The service area has received four loans and several grants.
An advisory question on setbacks for communication towers is going on the Oct. 4, ballot. The Assembly agreed 5 to 2 to let the voters decide. Assemblymembers Mark Ewing and Ron Arvin opposed. The question asks whether the towers shall be setback at least a distance equal to the height of the tower from all property lines and any public right of way. Assemblymember Warren Keogh sponsored the ordinance. "Let's let the residents and voters advise the Assembly and weigh in on this matter. If your neighbor decides to allow the erection of a 10 story tall telecommunications tower next to your property line, should we allow it to be 10 feet away as the regulation currently reads, or should the tower be placed farther away from your property at a distance equal to the height of the tower? There are issues of safety, visual impacts, and property values in play here," Keogh said.
The Borough Manager got the go-ahead to enter into a purchase agreement for nine acres of land for the West Lakes Fire/Ambulance Facility Station 73. The land is next to three communities Big Lake, Meadow Lakes and the City of Houston. It will provide responders with immediate access to one of the most historically deadly stretches of Alaskan Highway. Assemblymember Cindy Bettine told her peers,
“not another piece of property on the Parks Highway will have that access. That’s the reason we move on this tonight.” Bettine commends the newly consolidated fire district for improving its ISO rating and saving homeowners money on insurance. West Lakes Fire Chief Bill Gamble said the property is strategically important. “The location is critical to maintaining the improved ISO rating. It is also vital to improving the delivery of emergency services as we adjust to the growth we are experiencing and the corresponding increase in demand for Fire, EMS, and Rescue service,” Gamble said.
A concern over the subsurface height of the water table generated debate. Borough Land Management Agent Nancy Cameron said as part of the due diligence, test holes will determine water table levels and septic suitability. Assemblymember Vern Halter said the Borough has been pursuing this piece of property for two to three years. It sits right next to the other one we own, he said.
The West Lakes Fire Department provides primary Fire, EMS, and Rescue services to the communities of Meadow Lakes and Big Lake, primary EMS service to the City of Houston, and provides secondary service to the Central Mat-Su, Willow, and Houston Fire Departments.
For more information call Public Affairs Director Patty Sullivan 355-0103
Photo by Patty Sullivan/MSB Artist John McOmber displays his winning work in the Borough poster contest with Assemblymembers Vern Halter and Warren Keogh looking on. The work promotes the Hatcher Pass Nordic Ski Area. Trails are being worked on this summer.