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Lakeside, Briarcliff ask for halt to annexation

Annexation, new cities Avondale Estates Decatur Metro ATL

Lakeside, Briarcliff ask for halt to annexation

Photo obtained via https://www.facebook.com/BrookhavenGAGov

Photo obtained via https://www.facebook.com/BrookhavenGAGov

Parties behind the proposed cities of Lakeside and Briarcliff are getting antsy now that the city of Brookhaven has its eye on some choice commercial property east of I-85.

Briarcliff and Lakeside, who have partnered to create a proposal for a new yet-to-be-named city, issued a joint statement on Thursday asking for Brookhaven to hold off on annexing Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Executive Park. The owners of both properties recently approached the city of Brookhaven seeking to annex into that city, which incorporated in 2012.

“While we respect the right of every property owner to express his or her preferences, we believe strongly that city boundaries should make sense — and jumping over an eight lane highway to take commercial properties without the surrounding people does not make sense,” City of Briarcliff Initiative President Allen Venet said in a press release.

Mary Kay Woodworth, co-chair of LakesideYES!, said the application to annex into Brookhaven didn’t take the group by surprise. There had been “rumblings” about it, she said.

“I’m not surprised,” she said. “You know, Brookhaven wants everything.”

This wouldn’t be the first time Brookhaven considered annexing commercial property after somebody else called dibs. Century Center was in an annexation map for Chamblee that was supposed to be decided by a referendum. Century Center’s owners sought annexation into Brookhaven instead. Brookhaven accepted the annexation ahead of Chamblee’s vote, touching off a legal battle that’s still pending before the state Court of Appeals. Chamblee voters ultimately approved the annexation, but Reporter Newspapers reports that the city can’t move forward with the annexation until the lawsuit is resolved.

Woodworth said losing the commercial property to Brookhaven wouldn’t be a crippling blow to the efforts of Briarcliff and Lakeside, but it would make it harder to provide services to the residential property located nearby in the Woodland Hills, LaVista Park communities.

“It will be a reduction of course in future income and initially it wouldn’t be that big a deal,” she said. “Five or 10 years down the road it will be a great deal.”

Brookhaven City Councilman Joe Gebbia recently told the Brookhaven Post that the annexation petitions are being vetted by the city.

While Brookhaven apparently has no problem coloring outside the lines when it comes to annexation, Decatur is still reluctant to show any interest in property that’s included in another city’s map.

DeKalb County Farmers Market and commercial properties along East Ponce de Leon, DeKalb Industrial Way, Laredo, Pine Street and Rio Circle are currently in Avondale Estates’ annexation map. The property owners are generally in agreement that they don’t want to be in Avondale.  Decatur Self Storage owner Mike Easterwood has organized a petition and collected the signatures of the owners of 41 properties who would like to join Decatur.

Decatur’s leaders have been reluctant to consider annexation beyond what’s in the city’s current annexation plan, with a particular concern about residential properties. More homes means more families, which potentially ads more kids to the city’s school system. City Schools of Decatur Superintendent Phyllis Edwards said in her recent report to school board members that the current CSD enrollment is 4,334 students, exceeding its previous record of 4,268 students in 1969.

“By 2020, the Sizemore Group (CSD’s consultant) projects CSD will have 7398 students without annexation,” Edwards report says.

But Mayor Jim Baskett has said publicly that the city needs more commercial property, and Easterwood’s petition only has signatures from commercial property owners.

Easterwood presented his petition to commissioners on Oct. 6, but commissioners didn’t give him any sign that they are interested in moving the petition forward, even though the petition is only for commercial properties.