Residents Pack Town Hall Meeting on Chamblee Annexation
(APN) CHAMBLEE — About three hundred residents from Chamblee and the proposed annexed area attended a Town Hall Meeting on Thursday, February 18, 2016, at Lakeside High School to discuss the Chamblee annexation.
State Sen. Elena Parent (D-Atlanta) updated the gathering on the Senate Study Committee recommendations on annexation.
State Reps. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta), Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), and Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain) were also in attendance.
Sen. Parent explained the Senate Study Committee recommended that any annexation that was more than twenty percent of the existing city’s population should have a feasibility study.
The feasibility study should look at the impact to the county, existing cities, and school system, she said.
Unfortunately, these recommendations have not been codified into Georgia law yet.
Marc Johnson, Chamblee’s City Manger, at Tuesday night’s City Council meeting said the City is working on a feasibility report, and it would be ten to fourteen days before the feasibility report is ready; then Council Members will need time to study the report.
If a bill cannot be introduced by mid-March 2016 to speed through the House and Senate, then time would be out for annexation this year.
At Lakeside High School Auditorium, opponents and proponents of annexation lined up to speak out and let their opinions be heard by their elected officials.
Some of the main complaints by opponents are that the annexation is being pushed too fast; people just recently learned about it and do not have enough time to understand all the implications of more than doubling the size of the city.
Chamblee residents are upset they are not allowed to vote in a referendum, while folks in the proposed annexed area are allowed to vote; and feel this is unfair.
Some have threatened a recall, if the annexation goes forward against the wishes of Chamblee residents.
Opponents want an independent feasibility study done by a third party academic institution like the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia. Some think the City is too invested in annexation to give an impartial feasibility report.
Others are concerned that their taxes will go up and services will go down.
Residents from the Briarlake community are concerned the southern annexation boundary line cuts their community in half and divides school districts.
Proponents for annexation desire their own police department and quicker police response time. They want better services, better roads, and more parks, which they say DeKalb County does not provide. They want the opportunity to vote in a referendum.
Proponents fear that if they don’t move fast that Northlake Mall will be annexed by the new City of Tucker.
Proponents are impressed with the City Council and Mayor, and the fact that Chamblee has a City Hall and Civil Center. They want the same level of services that Chamblee residents have.
Andrew Morris testified his unincorporated neighborhood north of I-85 would become an unincorporated island along with two other neighborhoods, if the annexation moves forward with the current map.
“Georgia code OCGA 36-36-4(a) says you can’t do an annexation that results in the creation of an unincorporated island . You can’t proceed with this map unless the legislator makes an exception of the statute for this annexation,” Morris said.
“We are aware of the issue and it could be a show stopper,” Ben Shackleford, leader of the Chamblee annexation advocacy group, Citizens for Cityhood, said.