Annexation: LOUISVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY METRO GOV’T V. CITY OF PROSPECT, KY (COA 11/3/2006)

LOUISVILLE/JEFFERSON COUNTY METRO GOV’T V. CITY OF PROSPECT, KY
ANNEXATION

2005-CA-001235
PUBLISHED: AFFIRMING (MILLER)
DATE RENDERED: 11/3/2006

            In 1984, the City of Louisville’s Board of Aldermen proposed an ordinance to annex certain property in eastern Jefferson County.  The ordinance was given a first reading, but was never enacted.  In 1986, the City of Louisville and Jefferson County entered into a compact for the two entities to work together on cohesive governance.  KRS 81A.005, which gives priority to the first-class city’s annexation ordinances existing on January 1, 1986, thereby precluding annexation of the same land by any other incorporated city within Jefferson County, was also enacted in 1986.  The City of Louisville re-introduced the ordinance in 1986 and had a first reading, but it was not passed.

            The City of Prospect (“Prospect”) enacted an ordinance in 2002 to annex ten tracts of land whose owners had consented to the annexation.  The Louisville/Jefferson County Metro Government (“Metro”) filed an action seeking a declaration that Prospect’s annexation was void, claiming that KRS 81A.005 precluded the annexation because the area described in the 1986 ordinance included the same territory Prospect sought to annex.  Prospect claimed that the statute was unconstitutional as special legislation and that Metro’s sixteen-year delay in enacting the ordinance was unreasonable.  The circuit court held that KRS 81A.005 was constitutional, but granted summary judgment to Prospect due to Metro’s unreasonable delay in enacting its ordinance.

            On appeal, Metro argued that KRS 81A.005 and the compact were its justification for failing to enact its annexation ordinance because the compact prohibited annexation by Metro.  The court disagreed, stating that KRS 81A.005 sets forth the procedure Metro could have followed to annex unincorporated territory in Jefferson County. 

            The court held that the sixteen-year delay in enacting the annexation ordinance was unreasonable as a matter of law, noting that Metro’s only justification for the delay was an incorrect interpretation of KRS 81A.005.  The court affirmed summary judgment in favor of Prospect.

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