Loch Lomond Estates, in south Fulton, Seeks Annexation into Atlanta
With additional reporting by Matthew Charles Cardinale.
(APN) ATLANTA — Loch Lomond Estates, a neighborhood in unincorporated south Fulton County, is seeking annexation into the City of Atlanta.
The neighborhood submitted a petition on July 17, 2014. Atlanta Progressive News obtained a copy through a Georgia Open Records Act request from the Municipal Clerk, Rhonda Dauphin Johnson.
The petition did not meet the standards for annexation, in the view of the Law Department for the City, according to Johnson. The neighborhood intends to re-submit signatures.
The neighborhood is adjacent to southwest Atlanta.
There is an effort underway, as previously reported by APN, to incorporate the remainder of south Fulton County, which consists of several non-contiguous islands of property.
Mayor Kasim Reed asked the Legislature to hold off on allowing a referendum for a City of South Fulton, so that he could pursue annexation of some of the property.
The petition includes signatures from 78 homeowners in the area, out of 123. The area includes at least 200 residents, according to the petition.
The issue appears to be that the Loch Lomond Estates Homeowners Association typed up their own petitions, based on a template they found from the Georgia Municipal Association, as well as petitions used by other south Fulton neighborhoods–Regency Park and Sandtown–in 2006.
“The minor difference in the petitions is the result of our starting annexation several months before the Office of the Mayor of the City of Atlanta became involved in the process,” William Sheperd, President of the association; and Mary Harris, Project Coordinator, wrote.
South Fulton United, Inc., the non-profit leading the effort to create the City South Fulton, claims that petitions are out in the community to annex into the city of Atlanta.
“As an organized effort, run by a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit, our goal is to get the information to the people. The majority of neighborhoods are for incorporating. We don’t take any issue with neighborhoods that wish to annex to Atlanta. Our goal is education and cooperation. The residents will decide the fate of south Fulton next year,” Debra Bazemore, Chairperson of South Fulton United, told Atlanta Progressive News.
South Fulton United, Inc., still owe Georgia State University’s Andrew Young School of Policy studies 10,000 dollars for their feasibility study.
“Georgia State has been very understanding of our situation and is working with us [to pay down our debt]. This entire process has been very open and transparent from the start. Our goal is to educate folks before they make a decision. We have support on both sides of the aisle. Everybody needs everybody else. South Fulton is unique in that it offers all kinds of different elements; rural, urban, history. Everything you would want is in South Fulton,” Bazemore said.
There are few ways that citizens can annex or be annexed into a municipality.
From the Georgia Municipal Association’s “Growing Cities, Growing Georgia, A Guide to Georgia’s Annexation Law,” sixth edition:
“There are three primary methods of annexation in Georgia. All three require the consent of a majority of the persons living in an area to be annexed into a city.
“100% Method… Property owners of all the land in an area may seek to have their property annexed into an adjacent city by signing a petition.
“60% Method… Petitioners owning at least 60% of the property in the area to be annexed, and at least 60% of the voters in an area, may seek to have their property annexed into an adjacent city.
“Resolution and Referendum Method… An election may be held in the area proposed for annexation to determine if the area should be annexed. This method requires that an agreement between all the local governments providing services in that area be reached and that a majority of voters in the area to be annexed vote in favor of the annexation.”
“There are two other methods of annexation; 1) annexations by the General Assembly through local legislation; and 2) the annexation of unincorporated islands totally surrounded by a city.”
The Sandtown Community Association, represented by Senator Vincent Fort (D), was essentially ignored during the discussions of this year’s legislative session.
The question in a survey completed earlier this year was “Do you support and incorporation of South Fulton into the City of the South Fulton?”
“Seventy-one percent of the people said no. The people that want the City of South Fulton are telling the people of Sandtown to drop dead,” State Sen. Vincent Fort (D-Atlanta) said in a Georgia Senate Committee on State and Local Government Operations this past March 2014.
Sandtown continues to have strong support from residents to stay unincorporated.