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Berkowitz, Eklutna Inc. agree on $5.75 million settlement in landfill dispute

By Liz Raines Photojournalist: Rachel McPherron - 6:28 PM January 4, 2017
ANCHORAGE –

For years, the Anchorage Regional Landfill, located in Eagle River, has been a legal sticking point in relations between Eklutna’s Native corporation, Eklutna Inc., and the Municipality of Anchorage.

But Wednesday, Mayor Berkowitz and the corporation’s CEO, Curtis McQueen, announced they’ve found a $5.75 million compromise.

“The Municipality of Anchorage and Eklutna, we shouldn’t be just plaintiff and defendant, we should be neighbors and partners,” Berkowitz said at a press conference Wednesday morning.

According to Berkowitz’s office, Anchorage has made about $6 million by selling methane gas generated by the landfill since 2012. Since Eklutna Inc. owns 50 percent of the land upon which the landfill sits, the corporation has argued it should be entitled to 50 percent of that revenue in accordance with the 1982 North Anchorage Land Agreement (NALA).

Eklutna Inc. filed a lawsuit against the municipality to that end in 2013. Now Eklutna Inc. says it will accept a one-time payment of $5.75 million instead. According to information provided by Berkowitz office, $750,000 of that settlement will come from Solid Waste Services, while the rest will come from the general government fund.

In exchange, the Municipality of Anchorage is entitled to all landfill gas wherever produced on NALA land.

Eklutna Inc. has promised to accelerate construction of its Powder Acres and Powder Hills developments in Eagle River. Alaska Water and Wastewater Services will provide trunk lines to those properties. Eklutna Inc. will have three years to complete the Powder Acres lots and five years for the Powder Hills lots.

If the corporation does not finish within that timeframe, it will be required to pay the municipality $2 million and waive entitlement to share revenue from 1,000 acres of NALA land, according to information provided by the mayor’s office.

The settlement is contingent upon the Anchorage Assembly’s funding approval by March 1. Berkowitz said the Assembly has shown support for the agreement.

KTVA 11’s Liz Raines can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.

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