Limestone's bad luck is that it's attractive
Limestone County and Athens officials spend a lot of effort and time beating back what some people might say is progress.
To those officials and many other people, what's happening in one of the prettiest counties in the state is nothing more than a land grab that stymies future control of growth.
Huntsville, Madison and Decatur are the villains, if this story has villains. Each of the municipalities sees Limestone County as natural expansion for their commerce and industry. The links are through proximity, growth patterns and employment.
One philosophy is that growth and prosperity are to be welcomed, regardless of who is in control, because everyone benefits.
Another way to look at what is happening across the Tennessee River from Decatur is that intrusion might destabilize county unity and, in the long run, weaken efforts to govern.
Aside from annexation, Athens and Limestone officials now feel they must oppose building a hospital in Madison because of its potential affect on Athens-Limestone Hospital.
That sounds selfish but it's part of the encroachment war. A new hospital in Madison might lure patients from Athens. Also, surgeons who live in Madison County and practice in Athens might pull out of Athens-Limestone.
Athens-Limestone also wants to expand on U.S. 72.
In going up against Madison and Huntsville, Athens might be a David up against a Goliath, in a battle that favors the giant.
Limestone historically lives off the high-paying jobs located in Madison County and enjoys having those checks cashed at its banks.
The brighter side of these ongoing, inter-county battles is that most of the activity of the outsiders is progress. It may not be what local officials desire, but it is building the wealth of Limestone County.