Decatur Manager: Annex Commercial Areas, Leave Out Most Residences
Annexation might be accomplished though legislation, not referendum. Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss recommended the city limit annexation to commercial areas around Suburban Plaza, Emory Commons Shopping Center and nearby apartments and houses.
Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss recommended Monday night that almost all residential areas be dropped from the annexation discussion--a move that might eliminate the need for a referendum.
Her recommendation could also reduce public opposition, since the impact on city schools would be much less.
Merriss urged the city commission to only annex two primarily commercial areas--Suburban Plaza on the northeast corner and Emory Commons Shopping Center on the northwest. (Those are the purple and bright green areas in the attached map.)
Some adjacent homes and apartments would be annexed, she said. Four other residential areas would be taken off the table.
The commission will meet Dec. 17 and decide how to proceed with annexation. Public comment will be part of the program.
Merriss didn't know how many residents would be included in the plan she presented, but the number is sure to be far less than the 2,000 new residents expected when six areas were on the table. Merriss thought she'd know the number on Tuesday.
Merriss also said a referendum may not be necessary, since so few residents are affected. The annexation might be achieved through local legislation in the General Assembly.
Mayor Bill Floyd said that would set up a battle among DeKalb County legislators. He noted the annexation of commercial areas between Decatur and Avondale Estates took several years and was only achieved last summer.
A power point of Merriss's presentation was posted on the city website Tuesday morning. Photos of the two areas proposed for annexation are attached.
Decatur started out months ago with a much larger vision of annexation, but the inclusion of residential areas created public pushback.
Parents with kids in the City Schools of Decatur were especially sensitive because the larger annexation plan would create extra stress on an already fast-growing system.
School leaders said new schools would be needed and old schools would have to be expanded sooner than expected.
Many residents targeted for annexation complained that they didn't want to pay higher city taxes.
Merriss urged the city to work in the future with residents of areas she wants to drop from the current annexation discussion.
She said the city needs to annex the United Methodist Childrens Home on Columbia Drive eventually. Some Midway Woods residents earlier petitioned to be annexed and should be allowed in the city some day.
The northwest section considered for annexation would include the shopping center at Clairemont and North Decatur Road where City Commissioner Fred Boykin operates his business, Bicycle South.
Boykin said he would recuse himself from that vote, if it comes up.
Here are some previous Patch stories about annexation.