VOLUME 6 - 2013-2014 - ISSUE 2

Old School: A Recommendation for the Treatment of the Disposition of Property Exempt from Local Zoning Ordinances in Kentucky

 Christopher J. Ryan, Jr.

6 Ky. J. Equine, Agric. & Nat. Resources L. 221 (2014).

A Sunday drive on any of Kentucky’s less-traveled byways reveals the natural beauty of the Commonwealth: the undulating wilderness in the east, the pastoral horse farms of the Bluegrass, and the majestic lakes and rivers in the west. The bucolic scenes and landscapes that unfold in every corner of the state are worth immeasurably more than the expense of a traveler’s outing, even at current fuel prices. However, such a trip might illustrate two issues facing Kentucky communities. First, the counties surrounding Kentucky’s largest cities have benefitted from a significant increase in residents over the last few decades. Simultaneously, rural outmigration continues to afflict Kentucky communities, particularly in the state’s eastern and extreme western regions. These changes in population have allowed Kentucky’s more urban communities to prosper as a result of intrastate migration, often at the expense of failing rural communities. As a result, local governments are beginning to consider the sale of aging and disused public properties, such as schools, in order to avoid further expenditures on the maintenance of deteriorating public facilities.

Second, because population changes inevitably affect the coffers of local governments, which rely in large part upon revenue collected from local property taxes, rural communities are struggling to come up with funds to maintain outmoded public facilities, while rapid growth in urban communities is forcing municipal governments and planners to find new ways to accommodate the needs of their new residents. Even though Kentucky boasts the fourth lowest electricity costs in the United States, rising utility and maintenance costs amid shrinking budgets have precipitated an excess of disused, and even abandoned, public schools across the Commonwealth.