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Still listening – Parkwood supporters turn out

Annexation and new cities Decatur

Still listening – Parkwood supporters turn out

A map showing the boundary lines of the Parkwood Neighborhood. Source: http://parkwoodgardenclub.com/
A map showing the boundary lines of the Parkwood Neighborhood. Source: http://parkwoodgardenclub.com/

A map showing the boundary lines of the Parkwood Neighborhood. Source: http://parkwoodgardenclub.com/

Residents of the Parkwood neighborhood turned out in force on April 7 to speak during a public hearing on their annexation petition.

City Commissioners listened for several minutes while speakers from the neighborhood took turns explaining why they want to join the city of Decatur. According to the latest draft of the Service Delivery Report, the city commission is considering annexing 77 parcels into the city of Decatur. The report says 16 of the parcels already are partially located in the city limits.

There was limited dissent during the hearing. Eden Landow asked commissioners to consider that some of the neighborhood is in Historic Druid Hills.

“DeKalb County is a perfectly adequate county,” Landow said. “There’s no reason to do this.”

The other dissenting voice came via a letter presented to commissioners at the end of their public hearing. The letter is from Scott and Lisa Gordon, who have a son who is a rising senior at Druid Hills High School. The Gordons wrote that if this annexation takes effect this summer, he will have to attend his final year at Decatur High.

“We hope you can understand how devastating that would be to our family,” the Gordons wrote.

The family did not attend the meeting because DeKalb Schools are currently spring break.  They asked to delay the hearing, but the letter said that request was denied.

According to the Gordons, 54 homeowners signed the petition and they were among the 22 who did not sign it.

To see the Gordons’ Letter, click this link: ParkwoodLetter

The rest of the crowd was in favor of moving from unincorporated DeKalb into Decatur. The recent push to annex their area into Lakeside, Briarcliff or Atlanta prompted Parkwood residents to take action, resident Sheri Kennedy said.

“We started talking about our life and realized the majority of what we did was in the city of Decatur,” she said. “We attend all the festivals. We go there to do all of our shopping. We realized the city of Decatur wasn’t just our mailing address. It was our home.”

She said Parkwood Park, a three acre green space, will be an asset to the city.

Andy Vocaire, spokesman for the Parkwood Neighborhood, also spoke during the hearing. He said much of the debate over the annexation petition has focused on how many students it would add to City Schools of Decatur. Vocaire said that’s only one reason residents of the neighborhood want to join the city of Decatur.

“This debate is really not about choosing one school over another,” he said. “Yes we are in a good school system now and we face the possibility of moving into a better school system. The reality is this is about securing our futures.”

Dan Mallory owns a home that’s on a parcel split between the the city of Decatur and DeKalb County. Trying to get figure out which government is supposed to issue the permits for his home improvement projects has been a trying experience, he said.

Mallory said he’s asked past and present school board members how City Schools of Decatur determines where their district ends and DeKalb County’s District. He said, “The responses include, it’s where your front door resides, where the majority of your dwelling resides, (or) it’s the actual room, I assume for the child.”

Commissioners took no action on the petition. According to the current timetable, City Commissioners could take up the Parkwood annexation ordinance at their April 21 meeting. If it’s adopted then, it would be effective July 7, 2014.

In other business during the April 7 meeting, Commissioners:

– Approved a resolution exempting the city manager from the state’s decal requirements for government-owned vehicles. It’s something the city commission has to do annually, City Manager Peggy Merriss said.  The code section also applies to counties, school systems, regional commissions, boards and public authorities.

– Adopted a resolution designating Decatur as a “Compassionate City” as part of the “International Campaign for Compassionate Cities” and signing on to the “Charter for Compassion.” According to the website for the nonprofit group, “The International Campaign for Compassionate Cities is a global campaign inspired by the Golden Rule (treat all others as you wish to be treated yourself) to raise awareness of the benefits of compassionate action. Its purpose is to encourage city leadership from around the world to create and bring together efforts towards increasing compassion through local initiatives, policy, and projects.”

Mayor Jim Baskett said the resolution was unaffiliated with any religion.

“We consider ourselves a compassionate city. We have no reason not to consider ourselves that, and we have no reason to fear some measurements along that line or some impetus from citizens to try to find ways that we can be more compassionate,” Baskett said. “Personally, I find no reason for us not to sign on to the charter.”