DeKalb commissioners hosting town hall on proposed Brookhaven annexationA map of the area proposed to be annexed into the city of Brookhaven. Photo obtained via Commissioner Ted Terry's Facebook page.
This story has been updated.
Brookhaven, GA — DeKalb County Commissioners Michelle Long Spears and Ted Terry are hosting a town hall at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, June 27, at the Central DeKalb Senior Center, 1346 McConnell Drive in Decatur. The commissioners will discuss the proposed Brookhaven annexation.
The meeting will also be available via YouTube. To watch the livestream, click here.
A petition for Brookhaven to annex the Toco Hills and Biltmore Acres neighborhoods, bounded by Briarcliff Road, Lavista Road and North Druid Hills Road, has passed the 60% threshold required to move forward.
“Residents are urged attend a series of community meetings to discuss the proposed annexation of neighborhoods…into the City of Brookhaven,” Terry wrote in a Facebook post. “The annexation petition, which has reportedly passed the 60 percent threshold required to proceed, was received by the county last week. The proposed annexation, if approved, would be the largest in Georgia’s history to be accomplished through the 60 percent method. The City of Brookhaven has previously annexed nearby Lavista Park in 2019.”
The Brookhaven City Council will hold a public hearing on the annexation request at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 28, at Brookhaven City Hall, 4362 Peachtree Road. The council is set to vote on the annexation petition on July 25 at 7 p.m.
Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst previously said that he has been hearing from residents of the area wanting to come into the city for a while, and that nearby Lavista Park joined in 2019.
If Toco Hills is annexed, Ernst said, “This would be the largest annexation by the 60% method in the history of Georgia.”
To provide improvements in services to annexed areas, the city creates annexation tax districts. Ernst also said that the city of Brookhaven assisted with the petition effort and help the petition seekers go door to door.
After an annexation is approved, the city assesses roads, stormwater infrastructure and parks over about a year and reports the cost of improvements. The neighborhood can also request additional projects such as sidewalks.
The city will advance the money for those projects; meanwhile, taxes in the annexation district will remain close to the DeKalb County rate until the projects are paid for, after which the rate will drop to the lower Brookhaven rate.
During the DeKalb Board of Commissioners meeting on June 27, Spears introduced a resolution seeking to obtain facts to bring transparency, clarity and accountability to the annexation effort. The resolution also aims to give residents and business owners in the area a voice in the process.
“Whereas on June 5, 2023, the city of Brookhaven provided the county with email notice of a petition to annex 606 acres of land adjacent and near North Druid Hills Road and surrounding the Toco Hill Shopping Center into the city of Brookhaven,” Spears said. “Whereas, the state law authorizing the 60% method of annexation does not allow for the people being annexed to vote in an election for or against such annexation.”
Since receiving the annexation notice, the county has worked to obtain facts about the annexation petition and review the 1,700 pages of the petition. About 62.3% of the landowners and 64.3% of active voters signed the petition, Spears added.
She also noted that concerns were raised at a meeting on June 15 by residents living in the proposed area to be annexed. Decaturish previously reported that at the June 15 meeting, no one seemed to know who was behind the petition effort.
“Whereas, these two article report secretive and misleading behavior related to this annexation effort that is alarming and of concern to DeKalb County as all of the landowners and electors in this area should be given complete, accurate and transparent facts about this annexation petition, as well as a full opportunity to be heard by the elected officials in the city before this annexation petition is approved by the city of Brookhaven,” Spears said.
She mentioned concerns raised in an opinion piece published by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The article states that the annexation would bring in 4,200 residents and $279 million in assessed property valuation to the city of Brookhaven. The area would be annexed into the city from unincorporated DeKalb County.
“The Toco Hill (or Hills, as most prefer to say) shopping center has not signed up to be annexed but it would be dragged in to the city because adjacent residents want in. That’s how the law reads,” the AJC article says. “Both Brookhaven and DeKalb officials say the owners of the mall, which has been substantially renovated and is really two separate properties, have chosen to stay quiet. Business owners can’t win getting mixed up in such matters.”
A letter sent to residents by someone named Howard Ginsburg said that as part of the annexation, the current DeKalb County zoning designations would be converted to the equivalent designations used by the city of Brookhaven.
Ginsburg’s letter said that because this was considered a zoning change, by law a public meeting must be held.
“The changing of the zoning labels will not mean any change in building or housing density, and we’re not asking for any of these changes in our application,” said Ginsburg in the letter.
When asked who organizing the annexation effort, Ginsburg said he didn’t know.
Another man who was taking notes for the meeting also said that he was helping out. He explained that minutes for the public meeting were a required part of the application process.
However, when asked, the note-taker refused to give his name.
Larry Hoskins, who was the main speaker during the meeting, said that he was asked by the organizers to answer questions about zoning changes. Hoskins said that he was asked because he had helped the Lavista Park neighborhood through its annexation process.
However, when asked who specifically invited him, Hoskins wouldn’t answer.
To see a copy of the map and the petition, click here.
Writer Sara Amis contributed to this article.
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