Cities both stake claim to Route 80
Ralph B. Davis
PRESTONSBURG — The Prestonsburg City Council set into motion a clash with the city of Martin, this week, when it voted to annex territory the Martin council annexed two weeks ago.
During a special lunchtime meeting Wednesday, council members voted unanimously to annex Route 80 to “the current city limits of Martin.” What will now likely be in dispute is where those city limits are.
Two weeks ago, the Martin council also annexed four miles of Route 80 heading toward Prestonsburg from the current city limits. That distance would extend Martin city limits to “just past the Cardinal Country Store,” Martin Mayor Sam Howell said Thursday.
According to statute, a consenual annexation becomes effective after two readings of the ordinance and publication of the ordinance in the county newspaper with the largest circulation. Martin published its ordinance in The Floyd County Times last Friday.
But Mayor Jerry Fannin said Martin’s ordinance was improperly published because it did not include a map of the area to be annexed. When asked if that meant Martin’s ordinance was still not effective, Fannin replied, “I don’t know, but we’ll have a map.”
Fannin and city officials at the meeting contend that Martin’s annexation ordinance has not yet been made effective, and thus the land is still up for grabs until one of the cities properly publishes an ordinance. Prestonsburg’s ordinance — including a map — has been scheduled to be published in Friday’s Floyd County Times.
Howell disagreed with Prestonsburg’s assessment and said his conversations with Martin city attorney Clyde Johnson back him up. He said that Prestonsburg’s claim that it was necessary to publish a map along with the ordinance is not correct.
“We can’t legally tax anybody until our map is filed, but we did properly annex the road,” Howell said.
Kentucky state law specifies that ordinances may be published in full or in summary, and notes, “Ordinances that include descriptions of real property may include a sketch, drawing, or map, including common landmarks, such as streets or roads in lieu of metes and bounds descriptions.” The entire disagreement could boil down to a judge’s interpretation of the word, “may,” or whether Martin’s ordinance adequately satisfies the “metes and bounds descriptions.”
Prestonsburg first took up the matter of annexing Route 80 during the council’s regular meeting Monday night, and held a special meeting Wednesday to finalize the matter. One apparent change in between, however, was that the final ordinance did not include any private properties adjacent to the highway, as had been indicated Monday night. Instead, the city simply voted to annex Route 80 and any adjacent utilities easements.
Ultimately, it may be up to a court to decide which city ends up with Route 80, but Howell said he couldn’t speculate on that.
“I can’t really comment on where it going or where it going from there,” Howell said. “I guess it’s just going to be a long argument.”
Prestonsburg also does not appear to be readying for court, although Fannin said the city will soon be seeking advice from an annexation specialist to guide the city moving forward.
As for Howell, he said he is already making plans for any dispute to come: “I’m going to study up on the law a little more.”
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