DeKalb Community, Edmund Park, Petitions for Atlanta Annexation, as South Fulton Petitions Still Being Processed
With additional reporting by Barbara Payne
(APN) ATLANTA — Edmund Park, a community in a portion of the Morningside neighborhood located in unincorporated DeKalb County, has submitted a petition to the City of Atlanta, seeking to join the City, pursuant to the sixty percent annexation method under Georgia law.
The City of Atlanta Municipal Clerk’s Office is still in the process of reviewing the petitions, Clerk Rhonda Dauphin Johnson told Atlanta Progressive News.
Johnson said the City of Atlanta received the petitions on May 20, 2015, and that there were signatures from 159 voters.
Affected streets include Edmund Park Drive, which is just northeast of Rock Springs Road, and runs from Markan Drive NE to Kimberly Lane NE.
The neighborhood includes many upscale homes with large lots.
Alyssa Nolan told APN that she is the President of the neighborhood and of the annexation effort, but said, “We’re not talking until anything goes through.”
Nolan noted some concerns about delays, but was not specific. Apparently, it’s controversial or complicated or some kind of top secret.
There is no deadline for cities to complete the process of verifying the petition signatures, per Georgia law.
As previously reported by Atlanta Progressive News, the City of Atlanta has expressed interest in the larger Druid Hills neighborhood annexing from unincorporated DeKalb County.
APN first reported earlier this year when state legislation was introduced by State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) to allow referenda on the City of Atlanta annexing large portions of Druid Hills as well as south Fulton.
That legislation–which would have impacted a much larger area than Edmund Park–did not advance in the Legislature, but is expected to be taken up in 2016.
In addition, Atlanta Progressive News also broke the news that annexation petitions were submitted via the sixty percent method for three south Fulton County neighborhoods: Loch Lomond, Sandtown, and Southoaks.
Like Edmund Park, those three neighborhoods are also seeking to join the City of Atlanta via the sixty percent petition method, rather than waiting for the Legislature to possibly allow a referendum of the larger area.
A search of DeKalb County legislation appears to show that, unlike Fulton County, the DeKalb Board of Commissioners has not considered any legislative action relative to pending City of Atlanta annexation petitions.
DeKalb County would have had thirty days from receipt of notification of the petitions to object on the basis of zoning issues. By not responding, Dekalb waives the right to object.
CITY OF ATLANTA STILL VERIFYING SOUTH FULTON PETITIONS
Clerk Johnson also confirmed to APN that the City is still verifying the petitions for the three south Fulton neighborhoods.
On April 15, 2015, the City of Atlanta forwarded the petitions to Fulton County Chairman John Eaves (District 1), as they are required to do by law.
Once a county receives notification from a city regarding a proposed annexation, they have thirty days to state an objection, per OCGA 36-36-113. However, they can only object based on a proposed city zoning change to the proposed annexed area, if the change would put additional strain on the delivery of county services.
In the case of the three south Fulton annexation petitions, the affected areas are characterized by single family homes, Andre Walker of Georgia Unfiltered blog, told APN; thus, there was no zoning change at issue.
At the May 06, 2015, Fulton County Board of Commissioners meeting, there were not enough votes to object to the south Fulton annexations.
The next step is for the City of Atlanta to complete the signature verification process. If the application is approved, the next step, per OCGA 36-36-36, would be a public hearing on the application, which has to be held between fifteen and 45 after the City makes its determination.
To date, the City has not taken any legislative action, except the Council passed a resolution expressing their support of south Fulton and Druid Hills annexations. This resolution, passed March 06, 2015, was a statement of support of legislation introduced by State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta), and has no mandatory effect.
If the City approves any or all of the petitions, and following a public hearing, adopts an ordinance approving the proposed annexations, then any resident in the affected areas can bring a legal action for declaratory judgment, challenging the validity of the signatures or the City’s process, per OCGA 36-36-39.
Debra Bazemore, an activist who supports the formation of a City of South Fulton and opposes annexation, told Atlanta Progressive News that her group is considering pursuing legal remedies at the appropriate time regarding Loch Lomond, Sandtown, and Southoaks.
Meanwhile, a lawsuit to determine whether any schools in the south Fulton areas proposed for annexation, could remain a part of the Fulton County School District, as opposed to being forced to join Atlanta Public Schools, is pending in Fulton County Superior Court.
The case, City of Atlanta v. Atlanta Independent School District, is before Fulton County Superior Court Judge John Goger. Motions to dismiss and a motion for summary judgment have been filed.