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Rep. Oliver posts survey asking for input on cityhood, annexation

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

Rep. Oliver posts survey asking for input on cityhood, annexation

Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Georgia state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, is asking for input on the annexation and cityhood issue.

Rep. Oliver was recently appointed to the House Study Committee on Cityhood, Annexation and De-Annexation.

She said in the email to her constituents, “Hearings have been scheduled by Chairman Jan Tankersley at the Capitol for September 1, 24, and October 6. All hearings will be open to the public, and hopefully will be broadcast live on the Georgia General Assembly website.”

Oliver said, “our current process needs to be more rational based on both economics and the wishes of the voters, more transparent, and operate on a known timetable.” She posed these survey questions:

1. Should all new cities be required to follow a specific two year timetable before the voters are given the ultimate decision by a referendum vote?

2. An economic feasibility study to create a new city must be filed by a specific date, and be conducted by only a Georgia university fiscal economics department.

3. An economic feasibility study must contain data on the impact on the county.

4. Maps for new cities must be filed by a specific date and not altered thereafter.

5. Should all members of a county delegation, or just members of a delegation who include territory to be changed, have authority to veto a proposed annexation into a city?

6. Should voters have a formal statutory process to be de-annexed from a city?

Here’s the online survey. Rep. Oliver said she hopes to find possible solutions with state Sen. Elena Parent, who was appointed Chair of a Senate Study Committee on Cityhood.

In an email sent earlier this month, Sen. Parent said she hoped the Study Committee would “bring the key players to the table for an honest discussion on how creating cities, and annexing unincorporated areas, can be transparent and fair to all those impacted.”

Parent also said the other members of the Senate committee are state Senators Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, and John Albers, R-Roswell.

Bills allowing for a vote on incorporating new cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills this November prevailed in the 2015 session, while annexation plans for Decatur, Atlanta and Avondale Estates fell by the wayside.

While that sounds straightforward, the path to getting there was anything but. Legislators debated which proposals should take priority when they considered the overlapping boundaries of annexation and cityhood proposals. There are several methods under state law for annexing unincorporated territory into a new city. The Legislature also bent the rules to allow Tucker and LaVista Hills to move forward in this year’s session, instead of making the cities wait two years.

LaVista Hills combined the previous cityhood movements of Briarcliff and Lakeside, thus creating a new map that didn’t have to wait two years before being considered. Cityhood supporters argued that their proposals had already been considered in one form or another in the 2014 session, and the rule should be waived. The Legislature agreed, though not without some worry about establishing a bad precedent for creating new cities.

Dena Mellick

Dena Mellick is the Associate Editor of Decaturish.com.