Burnside is no stranger to the subject of annexation, and in Monday’s city council meeting, several examples of the topic came up.
The council’s response, however, was a mixed bag — with an annexation request denied, a de-annexation request dismissed, and plans announced to annex south of town.
While the city has been aggressive in the past in efforts to expand through corridor annexation — essentially taking in public roadways or even shorelines to reach entities that have requested to be annexed into Burnside — these efforts have often not gone smoothly. One such incident arose in 2016, when a Bronston area business owner asked Burnside to consider annexing a portion of Ky. 90 to reach her store. Burnside’s “wet” status would have allowed the business to serve alcohol in what is otherwise a “dry” area of Pulaski County.
News of this request brought a full crowd of Bronston-area citizens to a 2016 Burnside City Council meeting, voicing their opposition to the annexation. Although any annexation of private property would be voluntary, the citizens still didn’t want the alcohol element in their community. The annexation didn’t move forward, and although Ron Jones was Mayor of Burnside at the time, current mayor Robert Lawson — and many members of the council — remembered the consternation caused by the idea of annexing the roadway into Bronston.
Thus, at the April meeting of the Burnside City Council this past Monday, when Lawson introduced a request from Bronston area business owner Jay Patel of Patel Inc. to reach the store located at 2400 Ky. 790 not far from Woodson Bend, councilors were not quick to bite, even though Patel wrote in a letter to the city that he would be willing to pay the cost of the annexation.
“I had this at the last council meeting and I elected not to read it because I remember a few years ago, when this came up, the same issue — and I’ve got a lot of friends across the river, I’m not willing to make (any) enemies, because I think a lot of these people, so I wanted the chance to talk to them,” said Lawson. “They’re not for us coming over there. We’re friends, but (they said) that’s their community and they don’t want to be in the city limits of Burnside.
“I explained to them that it would only be the roadway, it would not be their residences, and they understood that,” Lawson continued. He said that some citizens said they didn’t want the presence of alcohol sales, but he pointed out some Bronston citizens at the meeting Monday night that he’d spoken to and “they know alcohol’s already there, they just don’t want to be part of Burnside. Hopefully, one of these days, they’ll want us to come.”
Even if Burnside did annex across the bridge into Bronston, providing utilities and services for property owners would be difficult. “It would cost a fortune to get” water and sewer over to that side of the Cumberland River. “The only thing we can offer is our ISO rating” — which helps lower insurance rates based on quality fire department coverage — “and they’re going to have to ask for them to be annexed for them to get that,” said Lawson. Neither was the police department eager to add the extra roadways to their patrol area, noted the mayor.
Councilor Dwayne Sellers said he would have “no interest” in annexing if it wasn’t practical or cost-effective for the city. Other councilors voiced their agreement, and as such, the council voted not to accept the annexation request.
Jamie Davis, a member of the Bronston community, stood and said he and other locals with him appreciated the council’s position on the matter. “You have no enemies on that side, as we have no enemies on this side,” he said. “... The best thing to say, in 2021, everybody can agree on one thing, is we all need less government in our lives.”
Lawson proclaimed it a “dead issue,” but it wasn’t the only time that evening he’d use that phrase. Lost Lodge Resort, one of the community’s notable tourism lodging businesses, had entered a request with the city to be de-annexed, and remove themselves from the city boundaries. Lawson provided background on the city situation, which involved speed bumps on Lost Lodge Road.
In 2010, the council had speed bumps taken out after putting them in months before, following a complaint by Lost Lodge owner Dona Howard that people were speeding down the road. The city decided to remove some of the speed bumps after complaints that they were causing damage to vehicles and that they made getting to a nearby church difficult. However, some of them remained. Years later, during Lawson’s time as mayor, it was found that Lost Lodge Road was in fact a county road, not one owned and maintained by the City of Burnside. Pulaski Judge-Executive Steve Kelley contacted Lawson about the matter, and once discovering that it was a county road, had the remaining speed bumps removed as well.
Howard “wanted it put back” — and then requested to be de-annexed, said Lawson. He said Howard was invited to come talk to the council about the issue, but that did not occur, so now the de-annexation request has been received in the form of a letter from an attorney. Burnside’s own city attorney, Molly Hardy, has a conflict in the issue, said Lawson, so Lawson contacted the former city attorney Bruce Orwin to help in the matter.
“We spent the money to annex (Lost Lodge), she asked to be annexed at one point, and if you want to de-annex, you can vote to do so,” Lawson told the council. “If you don’t want to de-annex it, you don’t do (anything).”
The latter is what the council chose; Sellers replied, “I don’t want to do anything,” others murmured agreement, Lawson asked, “Dead issue?” and the phrase was repeated in affirmation. So the council moved on.
There was one more piece of annexation-related business to attend to, however: Ordinance 2021-001, which declares intent to annex south on U.S. 27, about three miles past the Burnside border down to “just past” Keno Road.
The survey on the annexation has been done, said Lawson, costing about $5,800. Lawson he’d been contacted by four different parties expressing the desire not to be annexed, but he explained they were not annexing anything but the roadway and any annexation would be voluntary and by the property owner’s request. Two asked for a written letter stating they wouldn’t be annexed, and the other two took Lawson’s word for it, he said.
“It’s not because of alcohol, because we’ve got two businesses down there that may or may not come into the city,” said Lawson. “It’s all about future growth and future jobs.”
Because the ordinance was given a first reading at the meeting, the council did not vote on it at that time.
In other Burnside City Council Business:
• A group from Leadership Lake Cumberland, a program made possible by the Somerset-Pulaski County Chamber of Commerce, presented their project to the council, asking to put what they call a “Storybook Trail” or “Literacy Trail” in Cole Park. Elevated markers would be put throughout the park telling a story from an actual children’s book — as you move along the path, you continue to read pages of the story on the plaques until the end of the trail, where you will have read the whole book.
The council expressed interest in the project and voted to allow the group to put such a trail in Burnside, though it was agreed the issue of paying for the construction and maintenance of it would be hammered out later on.
• City Clerk Crissa Morris was presented with a “Team Player Award” for all the important work she does for the city, including her efforts in writing and submitting grant proposals such as the one that helped Burnside recently get $106,000 from the Land and Water Conservation Fund to finish the planned walking trail project.
• Danny Bray was named to the city’s Parks Committee to replace the resigning Brandi Fitzgerald.