Thursday, September 25, 2014

City of Decatur not interested in annexing Medlock Park neighborhood

From Lynn Ganim, MANA Acting President 

Many people in the Medlock neighborhood have expressed interest in, and in some cases hope for, being annexed by the City of Decatur. On September 21 MANA Board members met at our request with Decatur Mayor Jim Basket, Commissioner Fred Boykin and City Manager Peggy Merris to discuss the City of Decatur's expanded annexation map (now engulfing the Medline LCI study) and its impact on the Medlock neighborhood. We repeatedly expressed our concerns that Decatur’s interest in our surrounding businesses has negative effects on the viability of any new city that may include us. It seems unfair that Decatur's interests should have priority over those of other County residents who will be negatively impacted by Decatur's annexation plan. We also asked if Medlock should include annexation into the City of Decatur as an option for our neighborhood in our upcoming survey.

The gist of Decatur's response is that they are not interested in annexing the Medlock neighborhood or any other significant residential area because of the effect on the Decatur schools. There were no qualifications in their response. That door (or should we say “gateway”) is not open to us.

Decatur representatives emphasized their desire to control the main “gateways” to their city, with Mayor Baskett expressing dismay over the DeKalb County-approved development of Suburban Plaza as an example. The elephant in the room: why didn’t Decatur move to assume stewardship of these “gateways” a mere few years ago when they were underdeveloped? The first annexation wave came following the announcement that Suburban Plaza was to be redeveloped; the expanded map followed the Medline LCI study completion. City of Decatur officials did not express concern over the effect of their plans on other areas of the county, including Medlock, except to say that the moves towards municipalization in the county had impelled their decisions.

Decatur acknowledged that individual homeowners adjacent to the proposed commercial annexation areas can request to be included. Individuals included in the annexation plan who wish to be excluded can request to be removed. See Decatur’s annexation page here.

It appears that at this point our choices include being annexed into Atlanta (assuming Clairmont Heights and Druid Hills also decide on the same course of action), being included in a new city (whatever compromise Lakeside and Briarcliff or the legislature determines,) or remaining in a possibly dramatically smaller unincorporated DeKalb County.

We face complex choices involving many variable and unknowns. Soon we hope to distribute summary information sheets to make it easier for everyone to see what is involved in each of our available choices. We will also conduct a survey, as legislators and others are very interested in having a reliable record of our opinions. MANA is working diligently on survey design and distribution logistics; we will follow soon with additional information and survey timelines.