Atlanta Wins Lawsuit Over Fulton Industrial Annexation Restrictions
(APN) ATLANTA — On August 31, 2015, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan ruled in favor of the City of Atlanta in a case brought by the City of Atlanta against Fulton County regarding the City’s attempt to annex a parcel of land located in the Fulton Industrial District.
The City of Atlanta recently acquired a parcel within the District that is contiguous to current City boundaries, and, on March 17, 2015, Municipal Clerk Rhonda Dauphin Johnson sent a letter to Fulton County Chairman John Eaves notifying Eaves of the City’s plan to move forward on annexation of the parcel.
This appears to be a possible test drive on the part of the City with respect to Fulton Industrial. As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) introduced legislation earlier this year, 2015, seeking a massive southwest expansion of the City of Atlanta, including a much greater portion of Fulton Industrial.
On April 02, 2015, Fulton County Attorney David Ware objected to the City’s proposed annexation of the parcel in a letter, citing a 1979 Local Constitutional Amendment passed by the Georgia General Assembly.
In 1979, there had been a local constitutional amendment that prohibited any land within the Fulton Industrial District from being annexed. It was ratified by voters in a referendum.
However, Judge Tusan ruled that the Amendment itself was unconstitutional because it dealt with two unrelated topics, in violation of the principal that such amendments should only address one topic at a time. The second, and unrelated, topic was the prohibition on Fulton County School District from levying taxes within the City of Atlanta.
In 1983, Georgia passed a new state constitution, which forbade local amendments and which set certain existing local amendments to expire in 1987. In order for the laws set forth in these various sunsetting amendments to continue to be in effect, the General Assembly would have had to have passed a new law.
The General Assembly purported to pass such a law in 1986, but Judge Tusan ruled that the public notice regarding said law, which was published prior to its passage, did not accurately describe the contents of the proposed law.
Thus, both the 1979 LCA and the 1986 reenactment are both null and void.
“If this ruling is upheld by the courts, it could have an adverse impact on viability of a new city in south fulton,” Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington (District 5) said, according to the Georgia Unfiltered blog.
“Unless of course the legislature confirms the 1979 Act in a non-defective manner. It seems the legislature attempted to confirm the 1978 law but did not do so properly,” Arrington said.