Cities butt heads in Route 80 land grab
by Ralph B. Davis
PRESTONSBURG — The Prestonsburg City Council drew a line in the sand — or at least on the map — Monday night, as members heard the first reading of an ordinance to annex properties along Route 80 between Prestonsburg and Martin.
The move comes in answer to the city of Martin’s plans to do the same. The Martin council, however, tipped its hand toward its plans by recently annexing only the highway itself.
The Prestonsburg council is expected to give final approval to its ordinance during a special meeting at noon, today.
Under Prestonsburg’s proposal, the city will annex properties along both sides of the highway, owned by people who have willingly expressed a desire to become part of the city. The plans include two businesses that would be lucrative additions to either city’s tax base — Kinzer Drilling and Mountain Enterprises.
Martin’s recent annexation includes four miles of Route 80, from current city limits to near Kinzer Drilling.
Prestonsburg’s ordinance also calls for annexing Route 80, as well as other rights-of-way along the corridor. However, City Attorney Jim Webb said that, since Martin has already annexed the highway, the ordinance would only cover the adjacent properties unless Martin decides to cede the highway to Prestonsburg. The plan calls for annexing property all the way to Martin’s previous city limits at Buck’s Branch.
Calls to Martin Mayor Sam Howell said Tuesday he was not aware of Prestonsburg’s until being contacted by The Times. However, he said after consulting with City Attorney Clyde Johnson that Prestonsburg could not take any area that Martin has already annexed. However, he did agree that Prestonsburg could annex adjacent properties, as long as they are continuous and adjacent to Prestonsburg’s city limits.
“Do I blame them?” Howell said. “No, I don’t blame any city for growing.”
Howell said Prestonsburg’s action would likely put an end to Martin’s efforts to annex any more property along that stretch of road.
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