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Pet Crematory owner blasts ‘greedy’ annexation proposal

Business Decatur Metro ATL slideshow

Pet Crematory owner blasts ‘greedy’ annexation proposal

Decatur City Hall.

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Decatur City Hall.

Decatur city commissioners took no official action at their March 19 meeting on a rezoning request for 11 properties the city is considering annexing.

If the rezoning is approved by the City Commission – it was recently rejected by the city’s Planning Commission – the parcels will become another mixed use development, one with a grocery store and reportedly more than 200 apartments. The grocery store is rumored to be a Publix. The developer is Alliance Realty Services.

But one outspoken local business owner pleaded with the commission to reject the idea.

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Christine Hunsaker, who owns Your Pet Crematory on East Ponce, spoke during public comments and said the annexation proposal is self-serving and will harm the larger community. She said putting more residential next to industrial uses will be a threat to those businesses.

“You’re going to run us all out on the notion of sheer greed and opportunistic annexation? Please don’t,” she said. “I live here. Publix doesn’t live here. Alliance doesn’t live here. It’s hard on our schools. It’s hard on our water system. It’s hard on our sewer system and hard on our traffic.”

The request by the developer for a deferral follows a unanimous vote by the City Planning Commission on March 13 to reject the developer’s request for a land use change and rezoning for the property. The development is slated for the parcels currently being considered for annexation. The owners of the 11 parcels on east Ponce de Leon Avenue and Grove Place filed a petition with the city using the 100 percent method, meaning the owners of all properties in the affected area signed off on it. The project had been previously rejected by county planning staff and the annexation proposal has been derided as “jurisdiction shopping.”

The criticisms haven’t stopped the City Commission from allowing the annexation process to move forward. Accepting an annexation proposal is entirely at the commission’s discretion. In the past, the city has stated it will not accept any annexation proposals from neighborhoods.

The Decatur City Commission on Feb. 5 accepted the annexation petition, kick starting the annexation process. Commissioners didn’t offer much comment on the idea during that meeting. During the March 19 meeting one commissioner, Mayor Pro Tem Tony Powers, spoke to Hunsaker’s concerns.

“We’re going to have some big decisions coming up, and I don’t think any of us sit here lightly and take any of those decisions lightly,” Powers  said. “I will say that this annexation request is one that was brought to us by those 11 property owners. We’ll let that process continue to play itself out. … Annexation is always a lightning rod, whether it’s someone looking to annex a single family home or it’s a complete change in land use. We will stay engaged in that process and I think we’ll all make decisions we have thought about carefully.”

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