Crowd expected for town hall on Birchwood utility extention

Thursday, September 14, 2017 - 11:49
  • Power lines run through Birchwood on August 11, 2017. Large water and sewer improvements are necessary to support major future developments in the area, according to local utility managers. (Star photo by Kirsten Swann)

In place of its usual monthly meeting, the Birchwood Community Council plans to convene Sept. 14 for a special town hall gathering with local utility representatives.

The meeting is part of an ongoing community discussion about a proposed water and sewer line extension – utility upgrades that could levy steep future assessments on area properties.

The infrastructure expansion is necessary to support up to 1,500 units of new housing at Powder Reserve, according to the Anchorage Water and Wastewater Utility. While the landowner, Eklutna, Inc., agreed to develop portions of the subdivision as part of a January legal settlement with the Municipality of Anchorage, the development would require a new sewer trunk system and water transmission line, according to utility managers.

The sewer and water line improvements would impact properties west of the Glenn Highway between Chugiak High School and Eklutna Park Drive, according to maps presented at an August Birchwood Community Council meeting. To fund the public utility project, the municipality is considering creating new improvement districts: Residents could vote on water and sewer improvements, then pay for the benefit when they connect to the system, utility managers said.

Building new infrastructure via new improvement districts involves multiple steps, according to AWWU. It requires an Anchorage Assembly resolution or a petition by local property owners, scoping and cost estimate work then a vote of local property owners. The planned September town hall meeting is part of the process, according to the community council members. Instead of the usual meeting room at the Beach Lake Chalet, the meeting was moved to the Chugiak-Eagle River Senior Center to accommodate a larger-than-usual expected crowd.

The town hall, scheduled to feature representatives from both AWWU and Eklutna, is set to take place Thursday, Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. at the senior center at 22424 Birchwood Loop Rd.

Contact Star reporter Kirsten Swann at kirsten.swann@alaskastar.com

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