"Before this gets heated, we are not annexing Pleasant Valley," Olive Hill Mayor Jerry Callihan said at the outset of the council's regular meeting last Tuesday.
However, despite Callihan's reassurances, residents of Pleasant Valley were still vocal about their concerns regarding the city's proposed corridor annexation of the John Clark Oil property being developed near the I-64 exit to US 60.
Among those concerns were worries their homes would be subject to future annexation, which could require them to tie into municipal sewage and prevent them from shooting guns on their property, and that allowing the John Clark development to be annexed would allow the service station to apply for a license to sell alcohol.
The planned vote on the corridor annexation, which would bypass the other properties in Pleasant Valley, taking in only the road and the John Clark property, was tabled due to the city's inability to obtain detailed survey records from the state prior to the meeting. However, this didn't stop Pleasant Valley resident and Judge-Executive Candidate Clifford "Sodbuster" Roe from questioning the legality of the council's planned vote. Roe said that, by law, the city had to advertise intent to annex at least 24 hours in advance of any planned vote.
Callihan and the council noted that they have been discussing the proposed annexation in meetings for the past six months. They also noted they advertised the agenda of the Tuesday meeting the previous Friday; however, the first many of those gathered there claimed to have heard of it was on the radio the morning of the meeting.
Despite council's assurances that their homes were safe from annexation and would not be required to tie into the city's sewer system, there was still a bone of contention regarding the possibility that Clark could sell alcohol. Some residents expressed concerns that such a move could eventually lead to other businesses asking for annexation and bars being established near their homes.
Olive Hill Police Chief and Alcohol Enforcement Officer Bobby Hall assured them he would not issue permits for such establishments, and that city statutes in fact only allow carry out sales and prohibit businesses from operating as bars.
"They'll have to go over me (if they want to open a bar)," Hall said.
Councilperson Shannon Shutte noted that residents of Pleasant Valley who wanted to purchase alcohol could currently make the short drive into Olive Hill to purchase it anyway, so allowing the John Clark property to apply for an alcohol sales permit wouldn't have any significant impact on the ability of Pleasant Valley residents to obtain alcohol.
Roe, however, equated alcohol sales with "dope" and said that they didn't need more "dope" in Pleasant Valley.
"He's putting beer down there," Roe said. "Anything to get more dope into Pleasant Valley, and that's what you all are doing. We've got enough of it down there."
"We don't just sell alcohol to tick people off and bring more dope into town," Shutte responded. "Our alcohol sales tax pays for so much here."
Shutte explained that the tax money from alcohol sales, in fact, helped the police enforce drunk driving regulations and funded efforts to combat underage drinking.
Roe, however, said that he felt economic development and growth would lead to more drug problems.
"The fact is, any time that something starts growing, we get more of the stuff (drugs) and that's what we're after. We're after just to stop it," Roe said. "Nothing more, nothing less."
Shutte countered that the drug problem was in many instances tied to the lack of economic opportunities, as those without jobs either sought refuge from their situations in drug abuse or sold drugs as an alternative way to make money. Economic development, she argued, could actually help curb the drug problem by putting people back to work.
"Are you aware that a lot of the reason that people are on heavy drugs is because they don't have jobs?" Shutte asked. "That becomes their job and their entertainment."
Roe, however, argued that development was unnecessary and unwanted, and that there were already enough jobs in the county.
"There are jobs out here if they'll go get them," Roe said.
"We're trying to bring more jobs in," Shutte said, as the meeting then descended into a chorus of overlapping voices.
"Hey! I drove all over this United States," Roe shouted over the din. "Don't tell me nothing!"
Callihan then attempted to bring the meeting back to order.
"See, we were talking real calm there for a while," Callihan said, before Roe cut him off with further protests.
Callihan then took back control of the meeting, reiterating that they were not voting on the issue because they didn't yet have a survey that would allow them to do so.
Roe also threatened a possible picketing protest of the development.
John Clark Oil had previously asked for the city to annex their property so that they could send effluent to the city for disposal; however, the company now plans to construct an on-site sewage disposal system.
Those discussions had also drawn protest, Callihan said, because residents were concerned they would be forced to tie into municipal sewage; however, Olive Hill would have to upgrade their sewage treatment center in order to extend service and it is currently not within the city's budget to do.
(You can see video of the exchange between Council and Pleasant Valley residents here.)
In other action, the city agreed to an increase in their portion of library funding, matching the commitment from Grayson to provide $25,000 for the library.
"The library has some good programs," said councilperson Allen Stapleton. "My grandsons came in from out of state and were there every day."
Council also entered into the first reading of a new sign ordinance that would limit the length of time signs advertising yard sales could be placed to one week prior to the sale.
It would also limit the size of sales and political signs to no larger than eight square feet and require they be placed in a way that doesn't obstruct views of traffic.
It would also prohibit the posting of signs on utility poles and limit the total length of time signs could be displayed to no more than 90 days.
Code Enforcement office Taylor Duncan noted that while there were some issues with the plumbing contractor working on the splash pad that could delay the opening of that facility, the city pool would be reopened on schedule. The splash pad would be open shortly after the pool opened, Duncan said.
The city also approved a motion to advertise for bids on a track hoe for cleaning of debris from creek channels and the demolition of condemned buildings.