Clarkston postpones vote on annexation resolution, town hall plannedThe vacant Macy's store at North Dekalb Mall. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
The Clarkston City Council on Jan. 7 tabled a resolution in support of an annexation plan that included North DeKalb Mall.
Mayor Ted Terry said the city thought it best to bring new City Council members up to speed on the issue and to have a broader community discussion. The idea started as a plan to put every area with a Clarkston zip code into the city limits.
“The resolution before us was looking at a bigger slice …, to start a bigger conversation,” he said. “We will have at least a town hall meeting if not more public meetings before anything will be voted on in this nature.”
Details about the town hall weren’t immediately available.
The city’s current population is 13,500 and the annexation areas listed in the resolution would double the city’s population if the annexation ever came to pass. To see a map of the proposed annexation and the areas listed in the resolution, click here.
City Attorney Stephen Quinn explained there are many steps between the approval of the resolution and annexing more areas into the city.
“The first thing everyone should know is that it’s a multi-step process,” Quinn said. He said approving the resolution would be the start of the dialogue and is merely a request to the city’s Legislative delegation.
“Then, if the matter is taken up in the Georgia General Assembly, there would need to be a bill passed,” Quinn said. “And in the event that occurred there would need to be a referendum vote, so every person in the annexation area would need to vote on do you want to join the city of Clarkston or not.”
Mayor Terry previously told Decaturish that the city’s annexation map is in response to concerns about cities annexing prime commercial real estate while leaving the residential areas in unincorporated DeKalb County. He said North DeKalb Mall, and the tax revenue it provides, would be required for the city to be able to provide services to residents that could potentially join the city via annexation.
North DeKalb Mall has long been discussed as a potential mixed-use project anchored by a Costco. While that plan has been discussed, it was declared dead in 2018 and there’s been no indication of it being revived any time soon.
People who spoke during public comments were critical of the city’s actions.
“I am concerned and not the slightest bit reassured by anything going to the General Assembly,” one speaker said.
Another speaker, a resident of the Laurel Ridge community, noted that Laurel Ridge isn’t in the annexation plan but that the community has been involved in discussions about redeveloping North DeKalb Mall.
“If North DeKalb Mall [becomes part of Clarkston], you would not care about my opinion about how the mall is redeveloped,” the speaker said. “I am not for or against annexation, but with the current proposal, what I would encourage Clarkston to do is if you’re going to take the mall, you need to take the communities around it.”
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