Senate Bill 274, which would permit the City of Corbin to annex property in Laurel County serviced by its infrastructure has become law, but the affected area, known as north Corbin, is still in limbo because of the lawsuit Corbin filed to stop the City of London’s attempted annexation of the area.
Corbin Mayor Suzie Razmus said the Corbin City Commission would not consider any potential annexation requests from property owners until the lawsuit in Laurel Circuit Court is resolved.
“We’ve got to deal with the lawsuit,” Razmus said noting that under the annexation ordinance approved by the London City Council in September, Cumberland Gap Parkway was taken into the city.
Previous annexations, such as Fifth Street Road, which allowed for the Corbin Primary School property to be brought into the city, and West Ky. 312, which made the annexation of Immanuel Baptist Church possible, have involved the city annexing along the roadway.
That resolution could come as soon as April 9 when the parties are scheduled to come before Judge Greg Lay for a hearing on Corbin’s motion for summary judgement in the case.
With the new law on the book and Corbin able to annex in the area, Razmus said the case should be dismissed.
The bill sponsored by Senate President Robert Stivers, R-Manchester, whose district includes Corbin proper, would only permit Corbin to annex the areas of Laurel County that are served by its utilities commission.
Under the law, the annexation must be at the request of the property owner.
Corbin bonded $40 million to fund the water and sewer project for the area in order to help attract the American Greeting Card plant on American Greeting Road.
“The business at Exit 29 is a result of Corbin’s investment,” Rep Regina Huff, R-Williamsburg, told the House Local Government Committee during a hearing on the bill on March 15.
Under the language of the bill, the affected count, in this case Laurel County, would be guaranteed to receive the same amount of occupational tax revenue that it is currently receiving.
When asked about potential legal challenges to the new law, Razmus noted that Corbin is not the only city in Kentucky that could benefit from it.
“There are 17 cities across Kentucky that are in two counties,” Razmus explained.
The bill had passed the Senate on March 5.
Senator Brandon Storm, R-London, whose district includes Laurel County, led the opposition to the bill, arguing that the legislature should not enact legislation until the lawsuit is resolved.
“We have always been very careful about not interjecting ourselves into litigation,” Storm said of the Senate.
Among the senators supporting the bill was Senator Reginald Thomas, D–Lexington.
Thomas explained that he does a lot of traveling along Interstate-75 on his way to and from Atlanta.
Because of that, he said he is familiar with the area in question, noting that it is almost the exact halfway point between Lexington and Knoxville, Tennessee.
“For Corbin to be in eastern Kentucky, this area is amazingly prime for industrial and commercial development. We need to take advantage of that,” Thomas said noting it would be a boon not only for the local economy but for the state as well.