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Opposition to cityhood, annexation grows

Annexation and new cities Avondale Estates Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake Metro ATL

Opposition to cityhood, annexation grows

DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.
DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

You’ve heard the pitch of new cities and existing cities that want to annex property in unincorporated DeKalb County.

Now for the democratic response.

Several groups are working to convince legislators that the best decision they can make in the 2015 session is no decision at all. There are also several petitions circulating with a similar message.

Currently there are proposals to create new cities of Tucker, LaVista Hills, Stonecrest and a City of South DeKalb in various stages of development. Tucker and LaVista Hills seem the most likely to move forward this year, though no bills have been introduced on their behalf yet. There’ve also been no bills introduced pushing the annexation plans of Avondale Estates and Decatur. One group, Together in Atlanta, wants to annex the Druid Hills Neighborhood into Atlanta, a move that could disrupt the other schools that send students to Druid Hills High.

One of the more organized groups that is fighting these proposals is DeKalb Strong, led by President Marjorie Snook. She said the group isn’t against new cities, but against the current process. The group recently received a batch of yard signs and half the first order is gone. One of the members holds a master’s in public policy and is researching the tax implications of the various plans. They plan to be at every meeting they can on the topic, Strong said.

“We are not anti all cities forever in DeKalb, but we think that this current process is woefully insufficient considering the impact of these decisions,” Snook said.

A new poll by the Atlanta Journal Constitution has given the groups some cause for optimism. The poll said that opposition to new cities in Atlanta is running at 69 percent. Decaturish contacted the reporter involved who said the poll is statewide and not focused on DeKalb voters, so this poll may not represent the consensus view.

Still, between that and various neighborhood surveys showing support for remaining unincorporated, Snook feels that there’s a stronger case for waiting a little longer than for pushing ahead this session.

“There’s not real mandate for any of this,” Snook said. “I’ve never seen any evidence of a mandate, I find it curious there are so many people who say that this is inevitable. Why is it inevitable if nobody wants it?”

The petitions have different goals and hundreds of signatures to support them.

One petition, titled, “Say ‘NO’ to the City of Decatur annexing DeKalb County Commercial properties” makes the argument that Decatur’s plan robs Medlock Park of important tax-producing parcels. It has 621 signatures as of Jan. 20.

DeKalb Strong’s petition, titled “Establish a moratorium on new cities and annexations in DeKalb” is self-explanatory.

“The cityhood process, as it has currently unfolded, is bad policy with huge consequences for schools, quality of life, and taxes in all of DeKalb County,” the petition says. It has 447 signatures as of Jan. 20.

Other groups include “Keep it Together DeKalb: United 4 Kids,” which has 278 likes on Facebook and a profile picture of from the Simpsons of a woman imploring, “Won’t somebody please think of the children!!!” Don’t forget “The Organized Opposition,” which has 215 likes. The About section says, “We want the insanity in DeKalb to stop!”

Decaturish has reached out to the legislative delegation to find out if any bills are being drafted. Snook said she thinks it’s “interesting” there are no bills up for consideration. Snook hopes the legislators will realize there’s a better way to handle DeKalb’s business.

“We’re letting people know,” Snook said. “People thought this is inevitable, so we might as well pick the best city. It’s not a done deal and we can insist on a better process.”