Atlanta Southwest Annexation Petitions Submitted, Headed to Fulton Commission
With additional reporting by Matthew Charles Cardinale
(APN) ATLANTA — Attempts of south Fulton neighborhoods to annex into the City of Atlanta did not end with this year’s Legislative Session.
Three communities in south Fulton–Loch Lomond, Sandtown, and Southoaks–have filed petitions with City, according to copies of the petitions obtained by Atlanta Progressive News through an open records request.
This is a smaller area than had been proposed for annexation through the referendum method by State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta). APN broke the news regarding this proposal in March 2015.
Previously, APN reported that Loch Lomond and Sandtown had petitioned for annexation in July 2014, but did not succeed.
On April 15, 2015, the City of Atlanta forwarded the petitions to Fulton County Chairman John Eaves (District 1). The County has thirty days to reply.
On Friday, May 01, the County staff recommended approval, according to the Georgia Unfiltered blog.
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners will be considering the item at its May 06, 2015, meeting, according to the agenda posted online, item 15-0375.
“In terms of my Council office, we are very excited about Loch Lomond having the opportunity to annex into the City,” Atlanta City Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms (District 11) told Atlanta Progressive News.
“Even as far back as two years, when the last annexation [attempt] in that area took place, l was interested at that time. They attempted a petition, using an outdated form; that’s why they had to update the signatures… it was started by the community with the information they had on hand,” Bottoms told Atlanta Progressive News.
“When the City became aware, we made sure they had the correct petition, along with two other communities. There are a lot of steps involved. They’ve each submitted separate petitions,” Bottoms said.
The newly annexed area would likely become part of District 11 temporarily, until the next redistricting.
“Based on the last annexation [which had involved southwest Atlanta], that area became a part of District 11, then the redistricting… the assumption is that it will happen this time… the boundaries are appropriate,” Bottoms said.
“There was a question about conflicting maps, during the General Assembly,” Bottoms noted.
“In unincorporated Fulton, anyone can petition [for annexation], as long as the boundaries meet the requirements and are contiguous,” Bottoms said.
Not everyone is as excited as the Councilwoman to see the three communities leave Fulton County.
There are also questions as to what incentives have been offered by Mayor Kasim Reed of Atlanta. As previously reported by APN, Reed was rumored to have offered a ten year tax break to Sandtown residents for joining the city.
“The ten year tax abatement [promise] was recorded by a community member of Zion Hills Baptist Church. On that recording, he [Reed] says a ‘ten year, tax neutral… sewer and trash, all of those things are all on the table,’” State Rep. LaDawn Blackett Jones (D-Atlanta) told Atlanta Progressive News.
Jones is not running for reelection.
Numerous attempts made by Atlanta Progressive News to the Mayor’s office for comment were not returned.
“Here’s the main thing, there are people that want into Atlanta. No one is getting in the way of that,” Jones said.
Students “will be displaced,” from Fulton County schools to Atlanta Public Schools, she said.
“If any neighbor were to come to me to sign a petition, that would cause this type of displacement, I would not sign it. Was the information intentionally left out of the annexation proposals? I don’t know,” Jones said.
“Six hundred parents were called out, one night’s notice, to discuss the annexation. I asked, ‘How many want to go to Atlanta?’ 2/3 were for South Fulton, one hand went up for Atlanta. I still ask that question when I talk to my constituents,” Jones told APN.
“No one has come to me about the tax neutral position being the reason they want in Atlanta,” Jones said.
“In 2007, Loch Lomond was where Reed lived at the time. Those people, in my opinion, don’t care about the tax break. The issue is the schools. Some have said they don’t like the uncertainty of a new city,” Jones said.
APN previously reported on a poll by Sen. Fort showing lack of support for creating a City of South Fulton.
When asked about the poll that Sen. Fort had conducted, Jones said, “There is no ‘his people’ in Sandtown, his unincorporated district does not include Sandtown.”
At a meeting on Saturday, April 25, 2015, at Sandtown Middle School, parents had the opportunity to take their name off the annexation petition.
An official notary was present and some parents did ask for their name to be removed.