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Brookhaven finds ‘irregularities’ in failed annexation petition after local activist releases records

Annexation, new cities Brookhaven Chamblee Trending

Brookhaven finds ‘irregularities’ in failed annexation petition after local activist releases records

Brookhaven City Hall, 4362 Peachtree Road. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated.

Brookhaven, GA — The city of Brookhaven uncovered “irregularities” in seven signatures on a failed annexation petition that included the Merry Hills and Toco Hills neighborhoods.

The city announced the results of the investigation on Jan. 4, a day after a local activist said she had received the records in response to a complaint filed with the state Attorney General’s Office. The activist also provided those records to Decaturish.

“The announcement of these findings puts to rest any lingering questions over this application and will not cloud any future annexation application,” Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst said in a press release. “The silver lining is that the community’s voice does make a difference, and the difference is a better and a battle-tested annexation review process. As we have always said, we continue to welcome all adjacent residents who want to join the city of Brookhaven.”

The Toco Hills and Merry Hills annexation petition would’ve added 462 acres to the city limits. Brookhaven indicated other communities are interested in joining the city.

“After reviewing the 1,090 parcels in the application, seven of them were found to be invalid based upon the signatures,” the press release says. “In a resolution approved by the city council on June 30, the city acknowledged that there are six additional areas south of Brookhaven that are working on applications to annex into the city. As those applications have not yet been submitted, to the city of Brookhaven, the city does not have any of those signatures to verify.”

Annexation remains a contentious issue in DeKalb County.

Local activist Marjorie Hall on Wednesday told members of the DeKalb Strong Facebook group that she’d received the results of Brookhaven’s investigation after filing a complaint with the state Attorney General’s Office. DeKalb Strong is a group that generally opposes annexation and cityhood efforts. The city of Brookhaven initially didn’t provide the records, Hall said, but released them following her complaint.

Brookhaven provided Hall with the records on Jan. 2. Hall made the post on Jan. 3 and Brookhaven announced the results of the investigation on Jan. 4. However, the investigation itself was completed months ago, back in July.

Hall noted that the same company behind the Brookhaven annexation effort, Rosetta Stone Communications, is the same company hired by the city of Chamblee to gather signatures for the proposed annexation of Mercer University, Embry Hills, and Fleetwood Hills. That annexation also failed.

Brookhaven paid Rosetta Stone $273,500, a city spokesperson confirmed.

DeKalb County has pushed back on both annexation petitions. After Brookhaven called for a referendum on the Merry Hills and Toco Hills annexation, DeKalb replied that Brookhaven needed to complete its investigation into petition irregularities first.

DeKalb hasn’t yet responded to Brookhaven’s press release announcing the investigation results.

Writer Sara Amis contributed reporting to this story. 

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