Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Annexations and Cityhood: it is (again) time to get involved [Aug 28]

from Lynn Ganim, Acting MANA President

As most of you know, discussions continue about proposed cities in unincorporated DeKalb County. For those who haven’t been following this saga, here are the basics.  Last year the Medlock area was included in the maps for a proposed City of Briarcliff but was left off the maps for the partially-overlapping proposed City of Lakeside.  For various reasons, beyond mortal and non-politicians’ understanding, the state legislature failed to pass any legislation for new cities and told these two, plus the proposed City of Tucker, to solve their differences among themselves. Lakeside and Briarcliff are in discussions with each other, but, as of now, we have no information about where Medlock would stand if there were a merger between the two proposed cities. And, of course, no one knows what the legislature will do when it convenes in January.  The City of Briarcliff  Initiative has scheduled an informational meeting for Medlock and Clairmont Heights at North Decatur Presbyterian Church, 611 Medlock Road [map] beginning at 7:00pm on August 28. The Lakeside City Alliance has also been invited.

In the meantime, reports are that Emory has stated it does not want to be included in any new city. Druid Hills has had preliminary discussion about being annexed into the City of Atlanta, and those discussions continue. (See http://druidhills.org/2014/08/08/dhca-response-to-cityhoodannexation-issues/#more-3556 for the complete Druid Hills statement.)  MANA (and CHCA) representatives have talked with some of the people involved and will continue to follow these issues closely to ensure that our voices are heard and our questions are answered; we will be meeting with representatives of neighborhood associations in interested/involved areas and some representatives of the City of Atlanta later this month.

Many of us would be happy to see this turmoil go away and leave us in relative peace in unincorporated DeKalb County.  And many people are rightly concerned about the probable negative effect of these moves on the rest of the county.

The problem is that if any of these possible scenarios occurs, Medlock will be left as an island between whatever new entities evolve and the City of Decatur. (Based on recent maps and discussions, Decatur's annexation strategy targets commercial property, while minimizing residential annexations.) Also, the tax base of those left in the county will be affected in ways not yet fully understood. In theory, the DeKalb County Schools are not a part of this discussion, but, of course, no one can be sure at this point, especially in the case of a Druid Hills annexation into Atlanta.

Obviously, many uncertainties and unanswered questions exist, but we’ll continue to participate in discussions and monitor and communicate information on options possible for Medlock. In the meantime, we ask that you send us your questions and concerns so we can raise them at the appropriate forums. Also MANA and CHCA are planning to compile and distribute a survey to find out how you feel and, as necessary, we will hold neighborhood meetings. The discussions occurring now and in the near future can have a significant impact on our neighborhood and each of us individually; we urge you to follow them closely.

Time is of the essence. The DeKalb Operations Task Force's incorporation and annexation subcommittee will meet on August 20, September 17, October 15 and November 12 [see complete meeting schedule here or download the pdf]. The Operations Task Force was created earlier this year in response to citizen dissatisfaction with the County's operations, transparency and responsiveness. All meetings will take place at the Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, GA 30030 [map] at 6 p.m. The Task Force holds a mandate
"to explore and study (1) the financial, business, zoning and quality of life impact on residents and government operations caused by the creation of new cities and annexations; (2) the effectiveness of the current governance structure of DeKalb County and ethics and transparency in County operations; (3) the equitable distribution of Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST) proceeds and legacy pension costs between the DeKalb County and it’s cities; and (4) other related matters. The Operations Task Force is charged with making recommendations that can be forwarded to the Georgia General Assembly in December 2014."
Please send questions and brief comments to medlockassoc@gmail.com; of course, the Medlock Park Neighbors facebook page is always a good forum for more extended discussions.

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The Civic Association Network (CAN) posts notes from many County meetings. These are their notes from the July 16, 2014 Operations Task Force Incorporation and Annexation subcommittee meeting.