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DeKalb cities consider annexation

From The Champion Newspaper:

Posted by Carla Parker on October 17, 2014 in DeKalb News

DeKalb Farmer's Market remains in unincorporated
DeKalb County, for now.
While some DeKalb County areas are working to become a new cities, some cities are looking to expand.

Both Avondale Estates and Decatur are in the beginning stages of its annexation plans and have annexation pages on their websites, which provide information on the plans and allow for public input.

Decatur has a draft of its 2014 annexation master planning process and is accepting input until Oct. 20. A map shows annexation of the Patel Plaza and DeKalb Medical Center, northeast of the city from Scott Boulevard to DeKalb Industrial and DeKalb Industrial to Ponce De Leon.

The map also includes annexing areas northwest of the city from Clairmont Road to North Decatur Road, southeast from Katie Kerr Drive to South Columbia Drive and residential areas that round off the city limits.

Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss said the city has been interested in annexing these areas since the 1950s.

“We want to also control the gateways into the city so we would have some control over the development that is going on in the key gateway areas,” Merriss said. “And to also diversify our tax base in terms of adding commercial real estate.”

During the open petition period, the city is analyzing revenues and expenditures for the city and the school system, and looking at population estimates as well as projections for the city and school system for the next five to 10 years.

Merriss said the city is also planning to meet with stakeholders and will then create a draft of the annexation plan.

“Once we have the draft plan it will be available to the public and folks can provide us with comments and questions about that,” Merriss said.

Decatur’s last review of annexation was in 2012.

In Avondale, plans of annexation left the city without a mayor following the resignation of Ed Rieker. Rieker announced his resignation Oct. 2, one day after he apologized to residents at an Oct. 1 meeting on how he and the commission handled an annexation bill.

“I realized as mayor that I had made a mistake,” he said to a packed crowd. “I’ve been doing this for seven years now, I’m learning all the time and I’m sorry that I made mistakes. I’m doing my best.”

At a Sept. 22 meeting, residents questioned Rieker about House Bill 1130, filed by in March state Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates) that included a proposed annexation map for the city. Residents were not aware of the bill when it was filed, and the commission never discussed it in a public forum. Residents found out about the bill at a Sept. 15 city planning and zoning board meeting.

Drenner said the reason she introduced her bill on March 7 was because the Lakeside cityhood bill passed the Senate on March 3. Her bill was later pulled because the annexation bills—Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker—failed to make it to the House floor for a vote in the last legislative session March 20 and was put on hold until the next legislative session.

At the Oct. 1 meeting, Rieker gave a presentation on how annexation works and the areas the city is considering for annexation. The presentation included maps pointing out the proposed areas overlapping with Briarcliff’s proposed cityhood map.

The potential annexation map includes areas west and north to Decatur—including the DeKalb Farmers Market, and Forrest Hills and Stratford Green neighborhoods. Stratford Green is currently petitioning to be annexed into Avondale Estates. According to the city, staff has reviewed their annexation application, which will now go to the planning and zoning board and the board of mayor and commissioners for review.

Brookhaven is also reviewing annexation petitions from Children’s Healthcare of Georgia and Executive Park. The city received applications from representatives of the two properties, which are located east of the city along I-85 at North Druid Hills Road.

Brookhaven city clerk Susan Hiott said the applications have not been formally accepted.

“They are still in the process of vetting both annexation requests,” Hiott said.

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