The Green Bay Packers will be playing this weekend for a spot in the Super Bowl. They’ve had a great season. But back in September, the team was 1-2, and large numbers of devout fans were in a state of panic.
The Packers’ calm, cool and collected quarterback, Aaron Rodgers addressed the issue on ESPN and said that fans just needed to “R-E-L-A-X.” Everything is going to be OK.
That story, I think, is a good analogy for what really needs to happen right now over talk that the city of London might try to annex some property off I-75 Exit 29. I know some people whose lives seem to be in a death spiral over the mere thought of such a thing.
It has reignited the old debates about annexation in general and why Corbin can’t annex into Laurel County and so on and so forth. It’s the SIXTH time, by my count, the issue has flared up in the 18 years I’ve been reporting in this area. Every time it’s the subject of intense discussion, hurt feelings and a whole bunch of hysterical bull and misinformation that seems to go on forever.
First off, the likelihood of London successfully annexing property anywhere near Exit 29 is extremely remote. Snowballs have a better chance in, well … you know where. You can read the story on page A-1 of this week’s News Journal explaining all the legal hurdles to something like that ever happening. So for anyone losing sleep over the idea that Keeneland is going to build that quarter horse track on a sliver of land off Exit 29 annexed into London via I-75, well….
Secondly, there was never any conniving state legislators from Laurel County who surreptitiously passed a sneaky amendment attached to some otherwise innocuous bill that limits the city of Corbin from annexing into a third county. It’s been repeated so many times, it’s taken on a life of its own. There’s quite a bit of entertaining lore and mythology surrounding this. I promise you, there is nothing in current Kentucky Revised Statutes or the legislative record to support this whatsoever. There is no “statute” on the books that forbids a city from annexing into as many counties as it wants.
But the truth probably isn’t as interesting as the conspiracy theory made up over the years, so prepare to be disappointed.
Corbin can’t annex its way into Laurel County because of a 1932 legal decision involving the city of Elsmere that has never been overturned. There was another case that tested it in 1949. It’s just basically a “common law” principle that a city cannot annex into a county in which it wasn’t originally chartered.
This decision was not targeted at Corbin. It didn’t even involve Corbin at the time, although there was a court battle the city lost in the late 1970s when it wanted to annex some property owners in southern Laurel County. The 1932 case was the basis for a special judge’s ruling against the city of Corbin.
So, Corbin wasn’t actually targeted or screwed over. I know! I know! Boring. The story of victimization at the hands of greedy power brokers is much better.
Anyway, there was an effort, as recent as last year, to come up with a legislative fix for this roadblock. It’s simple. Lawmakers simply need to insert language into the laws about annexation saying that, under certain circumstances, cities can annex into another county and … well … problem solved.
Corbin has a good case for annexing into the area, which many often call “North Corbin.”
For one, many of the businesses that are out there, particularly along US 25E, want to be a part of the city.
Also, the city has invested a significant amount of money in water and sewer lines in that area to support its development.
Nobody else could do it or did do it. That forward-thinking, progressive attitude on Corbin’s part has resulted in a lot of jobs and positive economic activity over the decades, even if it didn’t directly fill the city’s coffers with tax revenue. It made life better for a lot of people, whether or not they actually appreciate it. It just makes sense the city should be able to annex territory it has invested so heavily in and which sits right on its borders. London is miles away. Corbin is right there. There’s no complicated logic to seeing what needs to happen here.
The last spasm of concern I remember about annexation in “North Corbin” was in 2005 or 2006 when, out of nowhere, residents suddenly got concerned Corbin was going to somehow force them into the city. I don’t know how this got started, but I suspect political motivations. There was a meeting among residents ready to fight off the city with their very lives if need be. I attended and reported on it. There was hand wringing and soul searching. Many angry speeches were given. A few crackpots with dirty, tattered, photocopied pages of esoteric Kentucky laws that had nothing to do with anything even remotely relevant waved them around as proof a move was afoot to drag into the city of Corbin against their will. Some politicians were there and they swore blood oaths they would go to the grave before allowing Corbin to annex into southern Laurel County.
Of course it was all meaningless. Silly! The result of too much feverish talk by people who have too much time on their hands to worry about imagined scenarios and far flung possibilities.
Kind of like what’s going on right now.
Just … R-E-L-A-X.