Chamblee annexation petition raises questions, faces oppositionThe city of Chamblee is considering an annexation application that would bring Mercer University's Atlanta campus, the Embry Hills neighborhood and Belaire Circle into the city. Photo courtesy of the city of Chamblee.
Chamblee, GA — A petition accepted by Chamblee to annex the area around Mercer University, Embry Hills, and Fleetwood Hills may turn out to have similar problems as the ill-fated Brookhaven annexation effort earlier this year.
Brookhaven’s annexation effort was plagued with questions about the validity of the affidavits presented as part of the petition, and the petition was ultimately withdrawn.
Four affidavits submitted as part of the Chamblee annexation petition appear to have been altered. All of them appear to have originally said that a given registered voter no longer resides at the address, but the word “resides” was crossed out, and “owns” was written in. The affidavits are grouped with property owner signatures.
Affidavits reviewed by Decaturish have information that conflicts with other public records. The affidavits in the Chamblee petition pertaining to three properties on Belaire Circle and one property on Fairlane Drive attest that the people named in the affidavit no longer own these properties. However, a review of public records on the county website lists the people named in the affidavits as the current owners of the properties.
Some of the other affidavits do not specify a yes or no response, while others are not signed by the notary. One has the city of Brookhaven written on it rather than Chamblee. Resident Alec Kaye noted that his “no” responses both as a property owner and voter were included in the lists of those requesting annexation.
Under state law, in order to annex in this way, petitioners must gather the signatures of 60% of eligible voters and 60% of property owners in the proposed annexation area.
Brookhaven and Chamblee hired the political consulting firm Rosetta Stone Communications to help with gathering signatures for annexation petitions.
An invoice from Rosetta Stone to the city of Chamblee dated Jan. 2023 lists consulting services for December 2022 and January 2023 at $11,000 per month.
The annexation effort does have support, notably from Mercer University.
Senior Vice President for Strategic Initiatives Kellie Appel said that Mercer did not seek annexation but was approached after the petition was already underway.
“Mercer signed on to the petition as we do see some benefits of annexation, and the city of Chamblee offers services that will be beneficial to Mercer,” Appel said.
Bill Blumberg, whose name is on the petition, is the president of the Embry Hills Civic Association and says that he has supported the idea personally since the organization was approached about it last August. Blumberg says that he believes that the city of Chamblee will be able to provide better policing, parks, roads, and code enforcement than DeKalb County has been able to do.
Beyond questions about the petition itself, there is opposition from neighboring Doraville. Part of the annexation footprint around Belaire Circle extends to just half a block from Doraville’s Brook Park. Council member Stephe Koontz said that the Doraville council voted to oppose the annexation and has sent a letter to the DeKalb County Commission. .
“Fleetwood Hills has been considered part of Northwoods since the neighborhood was constructed in the 1950s. To carve this out, to split this historic neighborhood between two cities, doesn’t make sense from a geographic or service delivery standpoint,” Koontz said.
DeKalb County County Commissioner Robert Patrick will host a community meeting concerning the annexation petition at Embry Hills Methodist Church on Nov. 30 at 6:30 pm. The Chamblee City Council will hold a public hearing and work session on Dec. 14 at 6 pm, and the regular city council meeting will be Dec. 19 at 6 pm, both at Chamblee City Hall.
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