MARTIN — The Martin city council faced off with dozens of angry citizens Tuesday after the city’s recent move to annex portions of several roads.
Martin Mayor Sam Howell and the city council have been besieged of late by concerned citizens over Martin’s recent ordinance to annex portions of Route 80, Route 1428, and Route 122.
A significant crowd again made their voices heard during Tuesday’s meeting that they were against annexation, though many seemed to be confused about exactly what the annexation included.
Mayor Howell has said repeatedly that the annexation of the roads simply provides the city of Martin with an opportunity to expand, take in new businesses and grow. But Howell has also said that the costs associated with the annexation of commercial and private property deter the city from making any further moves at present.
During a previous meeting Howell said, “People hear the word annexation and they go crazy with it. Personally, if I want to begin taking in residences, I will go door to door to talk to people. We are not trying to force nobody in.”
Martin is forced to expand its borders, Howell has said, due to most of the city’s central business district being unusable for the near future, while the city languishes in the middle of the Corps of Engineers redevelopment project. The downtown area is littered with abandoned buildings, some home owners still waiting to be bought out, and federal dollars to advance the project painfully absent. The most optimistic of appraisals of the project estimate it may be a decade before any work begins again in earnest.
“As far as right now, we’re not going out to get anything,” Howell said. “This is just the first step.”
Martin has received notice from a private legal firm from Pike County, operating at the behest of the city of Prestonsburg, that there may be a legal battle between the cities in the near future over competing annexation.