Will Atlanta's annexation plans come to fruition?
Posted by John Ruch@JohnRuchAtlanta on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 4:27 PM
Atlanta's efforts to annex Druid Hills and part of south Fulton County remain in play during the 2015 legislative session's final days. However, both measures face major hurdles amid political opposition and competing city-incorporation bills.
State Rep. Pat Gardner, D-Atlanta, has sponsored annexation billsfor Druid Hills in DeKalb County and Sandtown in south Fulton. If the bills passed, residents would get to vote on the annexation on the November ballot.
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has publicly backed both expansions of the city. But the two plans have triggered intense debate. For residents, it means weighing tax rates and public services. For county governments, it means responding to yet another move in metro Atlanta’s balkanization, carrying major implications for school systems and tax bases.
The proposed Sandtown annexation is complicated by a competing bill, which is also still alive, to create the city of South Fulton. The Reed administration recently flexed some muscle in the area, filing a lawsuit in an attempt to annex a piece of property the City of Atlanta owns there. State Rep. LaDawn Jones, D-Atlanta, has also cautioned some of her constituents about the unforeseen effects — such as a potential tax freeze and Fulton County schools acquisition — of annexation.
The Druid Hills situation is even more complicated as the DeKalb cityhood frenzy continues. Referendum bills for three new DeKalb cities — LaVista Hills, Stonecrest and Tucker — could be passed before the Gold Dome session ends on Thursday. The Druid Hills annexation map has some conflicting borders with the LaVista Hills city map. On the other hand, the LaVista Hills and Tucker maps also conflict, which could lead to a killing of both plans for now, the AJC speculates.
The unanswered questions have created anxiety on both sides. DeKalb CEO Lee May has questioned the legality of the Druid Hills annexation. Meanwhile, the pro-annexation group Together In Atlanta has sounded increasingly urgent calls for advocacy on its Facebook page.
Legislators might find a way to put these puzzle pieces together. It's more likely that they'll toss them back into the box for at least another year. Meanwhile, also still on the Gold Dome’s table: a proposal to better study how to deal with the high volume of cityhood and annexation plans
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