Avondale considering Stratford annexation
This story has been updated.
Avondale Estates City Commissioners will be discussing an annexation petition from residents of Stratford Green Townhomes during a work session on Wednesday.
If commissioners approve the annexation, it will bring the community of 154 town homes into the city limits.
“The residents of our community currently have an Avondale Estates mailing address, attend events hosted by the city and often have Avondale Estates police resources respond to our calls for assistance,” the letter attached to the petition says. “We recognize these services are not included in the taxes we pay as unincorporated DeKalb County. Being so close to Avondale Estates we already feel like part of the community and want to pay our fair share of the services we already use. We have closely followed the direction Avondale Estates has been moving and want to be part of a forward thinking, resident focused city. Additionally, because we are adjacent to the current city limits, Avondale Estates is a perfect fit.”
The petition includes signatures from 74.2 percent of the registered voters and 78 percent of property owners, well over the 60 percent minimum for an annexation petition. Still, it will be up to city commissioners to approve the petition, and annexation has been a contentious discussion in Avondale Estates lately.
An Oct. 1 work session about annexation brought Avondale’s current residents and some of the potential new residents together in the same room. While Stratford Green residents spoke favorably about the annexation, residents of other neighborhoods were caught off-guard by the news that the city was pursuing them. Some residents of the city were surprised by the city’s annexation plans, too, saying they didn’t know that state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale, had introduced a bill in March that would’ve put an annexation referendum on the ballot. The bill was pulled before the end of the legislative session.
Another complication is that a larger group of commercial property owners that Avondale wants to annex don’t want to join Avondale. Some are petitioning to join Decatur. DeKalb Farmers Market owner Robert Blazer wants to stay in unincorporated DeKalb, but has said if he has to choose a city he would rather go with one like Briarcliff, a proposed new city that would be larger than Avondale.
And still another complication is the resignation of Ed Rieker as Avondale Estates Mayor. He served as the city’s point liaison to the neighborhoods interested in annexation. He also asked Drenner to introduce the annexation bill without any public discussion beforehand, a move that got him into hot water with some of the city’s current residents. Rieker resigned the day after the Oct. 1 meeting. Shortly after Rieker announced his resignation, a resident of Forrest Hills emailed the city asking what the next steps will be.
“Just got a message that Ed resigned which I hate and he was my only contact in Avondale,” the email said.
To read the Stratford Green petition, click here.
The work session will be held Wednesday, Oct. 15, at 7:30 pm at Avondale Estates City Hall, located at 21 North Avondale Plaza. All meetings are open to the public.