Type to search

DeKalb County to file legal objection to Brookhaven annexation petition

Brookhaven DeKalb County Trending

DeKalb County to file legal objection to Brookhaven annexation petition

A map of the area proposed to be annexed from DeKalb County into the city of Brookhaven. Photo courtesy of the city of Brookhaven.

DeKalb County, GA — At a special called meeting on July 18, the DeKalb County Commission unanimously approved an authorization for the county attorney’s office to file an objection to a proposed annexation of 606 acres of unincorporated DeKalb County by the city of Brookhaven.

The annexation petition, presented by Howard Ginsburg, intends to annex the property based on a “60% rule” allowed by state law. The city of Brookhaven hired Rosetta Stone Communications to gather signatures for the petition. 

The petitioner must present signatures from 60% of electors and 60% of property owners in the proposed annexation area. However, according to the DeKalb County attorney’s office, they did neither.

Deputy County Attorney Matthew Welch stated that the annexation petition asserts there are 1,394 active voters in the annexation area, and 896 purported signers, resulting in 64.3% claimed signatories to the petition.

However, Welch stated that according to information that the county received from the DeKalb Department of Registration and Elections, there are actually 2200 total electors in the area to be annexed, including 1946 active voters and 254 inactive voters. This means that the signatures represent only 46% of active voters, and 40.7% of all electors, well below the required threshold.

In response to a question from Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson, Welch said that state law expressly requires the City of Brookhaven to investigate and validate the signatures and to affirm whether the petition complies with the law.

In addition, out of 462 acres of privately owned land, the owners of 288 acres were purported to have consented to annexation, including St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church and Torah Day School.

At least 20.68 acres have been withdrawn from the proposal by the property owners, dropping the percentage of land to 57.86%.

Welch said some withdrawals may have been presented to Brookhaven that the county is not aware of. However, Welch said, “In no world is 57.86% in excess of the 60% threshold required by law.”

In addition, according to county documents, seven people have signed affidavits stating that the signatures presented on affidavits as theirs which were included in the petition were not in fact their signatures. Those people include Revs. Robert Sherrill and Shirley Porter of St. Bartholomew’s, Jonathan and Sharon Sadinoff, Chava Kerzner, Ellyn Rubin, and Mindy Haller.

“What you have in front of you lays out in very strong terms that we do not believe that this petition meets the statutory threshold for consideration by the city of Brookhaven, and in fact should be withdrawn,” Welch said. Welch added that in addition to insufficient signatures, the county attorney’s office also included deficiencies related to rezoning requirements and other matters.

County Attorney Viviane Ernstes said that the county must bring accountability and transparency to the petition process to protect the rights of DeKalb County residents.

“There is forgery, there is fraud, [and] electors were excluded from the process,”  Ernstes said. 

Want Decaturish delivered to your inbox every day? Sign up for our free newsletter by clicking here.

If you appreciate our work on this story, please become a paying supporter. For as little as $6 a month, you can help us keep you in the loop about your community.