City of Atlanta Proposing Major Southwest Expansion to Legislature

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south fulton annexation map(APN) ATLANTA — The City of Atlanta’s lobbyists at the Georgia Legislature last week circulated a map proposing a major expansion of the southwest quadrant of the city further to the west, through the annexation of a significant portion of unincorporated south Fulton County.

 

While the City had been previously exploring annexation of the Sandtown and Loch Lomond communities, as previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, the new map is much more expansive.

 

The newly proposed map–a copy of which has been obtained by Atlanta Progressive News–includes Sandtown, Loch Lomond, West Cascade, the area by Westlake, as well as a large portion of Fulton Industrial Boulevard.

 

It includes three schools that are part of the Fulton County School District: Philip Randolph Elementary School, Sandtown Middle School, and Westlake High School.

 

A notice was published on March 06, 2015, in the Fulton County Daily Report, that the legislation would be introduced.

 

“NOTICE OF INTENTION TO INTRODUCE LOCAL LEGISLATION Notice is given that legislation will be introduced at the 2015 regular session of the Georgia General Assembly to amend the charter of the City of Atlanta, approved April 15, 1996 (GA. L. 1996, p. 4469), as amended, so as to change the corporate limits of the city by annexing certain property into the city; to provide for related matters; and for other purposes,” the notice states.

 

http://legals.dailyreportonline.com/singleLegal.asp?l=120091203325&searchKeywords=

 

State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) is going to introduce the legislation, according to State Sen. Donzella James (D-Atlanta).  Gardner did not immediately return a voicemail seeking comment.

 

If enacted, the annexation would further chip away at unincorporated south Fulton County, the last remaining part of Fulton County to be unincorporated.

 

As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, recent and pending annexations by Union City, Chattahoochee Hills, College Park, and Palmetto have already reduced, or would reduce, if enacted, what is left of South Fulton.

 

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2015/03/02/annexations-whittling-away-at-unincorporated-south-fulton/

 

Pending bills, introduced by State Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta) and State Rep. Donzella James (D-Fulton), to create a City of South Fulton, have passed committees in both the State House and Senate.

 

“I think they need to let that area stay intact, and let the people vote whether they want to be a city or not.  If not, then start annexing,” State Rep. Bruce told APN.

 

“They’ve had ten years to annex,” Bruce said.

 

As previously reported by APN in 2014, an annexation petition was submitted by Loch Lomond neighbors to the City of Atlanta to annex by way of the “sixty percent method,” which requires the signatures of sixty percent of the residents.

 

http://atlantaprogressivenews.com/2014/09/22/loch-lomond-estates-in-south-fulton-seeks-annexation-into-atlanta/

 

However, the Clerk’s Office rejected the petition because it did not comport with formatting requirements.  The effort was supposed to start over, but apparently they have not been able to get to sixty percent thus far.

 

“They’ve not been able to get the 60 percent,” Bruce said.  “Now it appears they’re going to get the Legislature to stick it in there by creating a referendum.”

 

“Basically you’ve lowered the threshold from 60 percent down to ten or eleven percent,” Bruce said, referring to the likely level of voter turnout in what would be a special election on annexation, if the Legislature passes Atlanta’s plan.

 

Rep. Bruce said a major issue is the schools that are part of Fulton County School District.  The District has already stated it will oppose efforts to transfer the schools to the Atlanta Independent School System.

 

Therefore, it currently seems that if south Fulton residents annex into Atlanta, some children that are currently attending the south Fulton schools will have to transfer into and start taking buses into Atlanta Public Schools.

 

“They’ve always wanted the schools, they just haven’t been able to get it,” Rep. Bruce said.

 

“They are convinced if they put the schools inside the city limits, they’ll be able to take the schools… Fulton County [Board of Education] has made it clear they won’t give up the schools without a fight,” Rep. Bruce said.

 

“WHEREAS, the Fulton County Board of Education, having considered all factors it deems necessary and prudent in connection with the subject matter, finds that it is in the best interests of the Fulton County School System to object to and challenge the transfer of the Property to another school system or municipal entity, specifically, the City of Atlanta or to the Atlanta Independent School System,” the Board stated in a resolution adopted on February 10, 2015.

 

“They’d be going to Benjamin Mays [High School], Therrell [High School], and a couple other schools,” he said.

 

Meanwhile, Sen. James and Rep. Bruce raised concerns regarding a local constitutional amendment that they say prohibits Atlanta from annexing Fulton Industrial.

 

“That area has indicated they want to come into the new [proposed South Fulton] city, and they don’t want to give up that Constitutional protection – their position is, create a city and we will come,” Rep. Bruce said.

 

“Somehow they’d have to get that local constitution amendment repealed,” Bruce said.

 

Mayor Kasim had offered a ten year tax break to the residents of Sandtown if they joined the City of Atlanta.  It is not clear if that offer is still on the table or if it extends to all of the impacted neighborhoods.

 

Rep. Bruce also noted that a current portion of southwest Atlanta currently relies on a Fulton County fire station, paying several hundred thousands of dollars per year to Fulton County for access to the station.

 

“With the new people, what fire station will they have?” he asked.

 

The City of Atlanta has also been pursuing annexation of the North Druid Hills area in DeKalb County.  It is not immediately clear whether legislation related to this proposal will be introduced this Session, with only five days left to go until Crossover Day.

 

(END/2015)

20 comments

  • Can you provide a complete map of the proposed annexation area? I live in a community that might be affected.

  • What a sneaky tactic! Can’t get the buy-in from those living in the area then have your buddies in the legislature allow you to just take what you want. Schools still are the issue. Atlanta schools in south Atlanta area aren’t as good as those run by Fulton County School District.

    • There you go again, James. Calling things that are not as if they are.

      Since when is allowing a community to vote on whether they want to be annexed by an existing city “a sneaky tactic?”

      Stop trying to suppress the vote.

      • @Kristine you are the guys that are suppressing the vote. Atlanta can’t get enough people to want to be in it so you go around the will of the majority to force Atlanta on folks? Atlanta can’t get what it wants so this is the only way. SF will prevail.

      • @Kristine they’re going around the community. We did vote and the answer was no. So they took it to legislature. Most people would consider that sneaky and underhanded.

  • It would be a disaster if the City of South Fulton was formed. All the proponents will tell you is that it’s a good idea. They have not provided an honest approach to the pros and cons of cityhood. What will the taxes be, what will be the response times for public safety. If they go off of the current platform (Fulton County Police and Fire) we are doomed. Neither agency can fulfill the needs of the community. Their response times suck. Fulton County Fire can not meet the standards set by the National Fire Protection Acency (NFPA), and the police department is under staffed and focuses on the areas of Old National Hwy. and Fulton Industrial Blvd.

    Wake up… Cityhood is expensive. There is not enough tax base in South Fulton for it to become a viable community and thrive.

    City of Atlanta for me.

    • @Ike you can move into Atlanta right now. A City of South Fulton is financially viable. There’s $16-$20 million in SPLOST we don’t receive right now that comes with the new city. That’s more a reason to control our own future. Atlanta can’t turn off it’s leaking fire hydrants in Buckhead. What do you think they will do for you in south Fulton. Nothing. The government will be too big to care abiut yiur needs but will take care of it’s Buckhead folk.

      • James show the pros and cons of cityhood. We would be much better off in an already formed city, for the reasons I stated on the post.

        You gotta wake up.

  • Atlanta city government has lost the revenue base on the north and now they want to poach south Fulton. When the last annexation was completed, the tax hike was 40% . The city is suffering huge revenue shortages and we shouldn’t be the forced to take on the poor leadership that mismanages The financial affairs of Atlanta.

  • The irony is that 10 years ago, Kasim Reed passed a bill to create the city of South Fulton and was battling Atlanta for Sandtown.

    That said, state law makes it ridiculously hard for existing cities to annex, and ridiculously easy for the legislature to do whatever it wants. Existing cities should be given more preference, especially against I’ll-conceived / far-flung cityhood movements.

    Plus, South Fulton is the most unoriginal name I’ve heard. This exact area was Campbell County until 1932, when it was lopped onto tiny Fulton County to form south Fulton. The same thing happened to the north that year, when Milton County was added onto Fulton to create the north Fulton area. If there’s now a town of Milton in that area, there should be a town of Campbell (or Campbellton) in this area.

  • As a student of Westlake High School, I believe that this annexation is very poorly thought out and only a way for greedy Atlanta to make money. APS schools have ridiculously low graduation rates and unsafe school environments(I speak from personal experience). I would not want to be moved into a school system as poor as APS.

  • As an eight grader and future student of Westlake, I see a whole lot more cons than pros in annexing South Fulton. 5201 students will be academically at risk. If the annexing goes through, they will have to attend other schools that don’t even compare to the high academic success of Sandtown and Westlake. Not only that, but the students who worked so hard to get into the magnet program, like me, will have that ripped away from them. Children are the future, and right now Georgia’s future is being threatened.
    There are some benefits to annexation though. It will certainly raise money for the city of Atlanta so they can pay off the new stadium and the debt that they owe Fulton County for using their fire department, but that is all capital goods. We are building up on our already high capital goods at the dispense of are badly needed human capital. Plus, the person in the legislative to brought the annexation to light doesn’t even live in south Fulton, but in midtown which is a breach of protocol. The majority of people in South Fulton, especially the school faculty, are completely against the annexation. Annexing South Fulton will raise the taxes that property owners will have to pay. To me, it seems as though The city of Atlanta is being greedy. The only reason they want the annexation to happen if for money. Getting schools like Westlake and Sandtown will get you money. more tax payers will give you more money. I doubt anybody actually sat down and thought about how their pursuit of wealth affects other people’s lives. Money isn’t everything.
    There has been some speculation that the annexation was brought up to put an end to South Fulton’s chance to become a city. I don’t strongly support South Fulton becoming a city, but if it will prevent things like this from happening, then maybe its for the best. Look at how well the city of Atlanta is doing right now financially. http://www.city-data.com/forum/atlanta/348893-atlanta-southern-city-debt-trap.html. This website shows how much debt the city of Atlanta is in. They were given a grade and they got an “F”, and were ranked 98 where No. 1 has the least personal debt. While I may not be in much of a position to be talking about the city of Atlanta, anybody who opposes South Fulton has no position to be talking either. If we become a city, we’ll be just as well off as the city of Atlanta currently is, give or take some. Of course, that is just my opinion. While I am NOT saying, “South Fulton must become a city at all cost!” I am saying that you shouldn’t go to such extremes to prevent something like this from happening. whatever you were doing before has obviously been working because South Fulton is still not a city so there was no reason to try to annex it and cause so many problems and solve so very few.

    • I find it appaling that someone would use the assumed identity of a child to hold a position. The City Data that you posted is from 2008 when the City of Atlanta Reserves were $7 milliom. They are now $141 million.

      We are intrested in what is better over all for the citizens. That said please dont use assumed children as pawns, we will not make emotional decisions.

      If the City of South Fulton comes to fruition we are doomed.

  • Thank you for this informative article. Anyone interested in fighting the annexation should go to http://www.southfultonnow.org

  • @James, please look at the median income of South Fulton County. Design a plan and show the people the pros and cons of cityhood vs. annexation. If this area goes for cityhood property values will dip even further than the have already. $16-$20 million won’t be enough. This would be disastrous. Just FYI schools in South Fulton do not perform well at all.

    The City of Atlanta has $141 million in reserves. And their bond rating is better than what you have now.

    Atlanta has a class 1 ISO fire rating, a good police force, and good services. The current services that we have are scarey. Look at how our fire stations are placed, call for a police officer, you will be utterly disappointed and a City of South Fulton will be worse.

    Give the people honest details. Pros and Cons.

    Wake up people, annexation is the answer.

    • Ike why don’t you move to atlanta? Don’t you get it. We don’t want to be part of atlanta. We the people of South Fulton has spoken. Your so called convincing ideas are not wanted or needed for South Fulton. Jump on the south fulton train ride or pursue a career working for the mayor as his spokesperson. If I Didn’t know better I would think you are on the payroll!!!!!

      • @Double H, “We the people of South Fulton has spoken”. Sorry you have it wrong one or two may have spoken against it. However, I reside in South Fulton and I’m for annexation into Atlanta.

        Look at the pros v. cons.

        I will move to Atlanta, but it will be by annexation.

        If we go for cityhood with what is in place now, we are doomed. Home values will plummet, no one will want to move here.

  • Furthermore, I find it appaling that someone would use the assumed identity of a child to hold a position. The City Data that you posted is from 2008 when the City of Atlanta Reserves were $7 milliom. They are now $141 million.

    We are intrested in what is better over all for the citizens. That said please dont use assumed children as pawns, we will not make emotional decisions.

    If the City of South Fulton comes to fruition we are doomed.

  • I personally do not like the idea of becoming a part of the City of Atlanta. I chose my home based on the facts that it is an unincorporated area as well as the schools my children will attend (from elementary to high school). I did not chose my home so that my children can go to school such as Therrell High School. If I wanted to be a part of the City of Atlanta, I would have purchased a home there. My daughter grades have improved since attending Sandtown Middle School and she loves going to school. I fear that rezoning will take that away from her. Before making the decision of purchasing my home, I compared Fulton County Schools with Atlanta Public Schools and noticed how well the ratings of FCS is compared to APS. I feel as if we (the residents of South Fulton) will be cheated and bamboozled if the annexing into the City of Atlanta goes through.

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