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Floyd Would Like Annex Vote Next Year

"We want control of all the commercial areas," mayor says.

Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd said Monday night he'd like to see an annexation referendum next year on two unincorporated areas: Suburban Plaza and the Publix shopping center at Clairemont Avenue and North Decatur Road.

However, the mayor said the city will need input and approval from because annexation would affect the school system.

"We're committed to at least investigating annexation of these areas," Floyd said.

Floyd spoke at a joint meeting of the city commission and the school board. He brought up the idea a few weeks ago .

He said one purpose of annexing the heavily commercial land would be to have some say over development which could affect Decatur.

"We would want control of all the commercial areas," he said.

Selig Enterprises owns both shopping centers. The developers want -- an idea that .

Annexation would also increase the city's commercial tax base. The area under consideration doesn't include a lot of residential area, Floyd said.

Floyd said he hopes the state legislature can approve a referendum next session and that a vote could be held in the summer of 2013 or November 2013.

Decatur and Avondale Estates just annexed . That was done through the legislature and didn't require a referendum because no residential areas are involved.

Ralph Ellis April 17, 2012 at 01:32 PM
D Ebaugh, good point. The mayor said some residents had expressed an interest in being annexed. They will be factored into the situation.
Ms. April 17, 2012 at 02:12 PM
Ralph- Do you by chance know off the top of your head where the Decatur city limit is, along Clairemont? Thanks! (Wondering how many households the residential annexation would entail.)
Ralph Ellis April 17, 2012 at 02:22 PM
The city limits end near the YMCA along Clairemont, so everything north of there. The best map I've seen to show the city boundaries and the street system is the recently created bike suitability map. You can find a copy around town, at city hall or bike shops, or you can view it online by going to the city website, http://www.decaturga.com, and typing "bike suitability map" in the search box.
Jim McCall April 17, 2012 at 03:02 PM
This is getting ridiculous. Now we have Decatur going after even more valuable commercial property. Decatur doesn't want their precious schools contaminated by annexation but they sure have no problem taking tax money away from county neighborhoods. I certainly have a problem with our local representatives if they continue to allow Decatur to devour commercial property without also annexing large residential areas. There are areas around Decatur that would be a logical fit for the city, areas that are becoming no mans land ignored by state and local governments. Mayor Floyd pitched his annexation plan to neighborhoods a few years back begging residents to become part of Decatur, then abandoned them. Note to area legislators, there are a lot of county residents paying attention now, we don't like being ignored.
Jane Ayres April 17, 2012 at 03:13 PM
I agree with Jim. Our neighborhood is just the other side of the Decatur line, and when annexation was discussed a few years ago, many of us were all for it. Then the idea was dropped because of the impact on the schools. Now Decatur appears to want to cherry pick properties that will bring them income without taking property that will cost them, leaving us in more of a hole. It leaves a bad taste.
Rob Young April 17, 2012 at 03:41 PM
Jim & Jane, This annexation would include residential and therefore requires a vote of affected residents. You would decide if you want to be part of Decatur.
Daniele Xenos April 17, 2012 at 03:49 PM
I feel the same. The recently annexed portion left all of us living in the Katie Kerr out in the cold. Guess our kids aren't good enough for City schools.
David Harris April 17, 2012 at 04:39 PM
In defense of Decatur, it has a far better track record in terms of services (schools, police, fire) and zoning than Dekalb Co.. Don't be surprised if non-Decatur residential property near the proposed commercial annexation areas *increases* in value at a greater rate than the marginal decrease in county tax revenue. In other words, who do you think is doing and will do a better job managing the commercial property ? Dekalb Co. or City of Decatur ?
David Harris April 17, 2012 at 04:48 PM
Re: "Guess our kids aren't good enough for City schools." It's all about taxes (money) and representation. The inconvenient truth for nearly every public school system, including City of Decatur, is it costs more per residential household with kids to educate the kids than the additional tax revenue that household brings in. In other words, the childless or empty-nester households and commercial properties subsidize the households with kids.
Ms. April 17, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Your conflicting 2 separate issues, the residents not included in the annexation will have no benefit from the Decatur schools. "Hey, buy my house because it's across the street from all these great schools and services we can't use!" As far as who would manage the commercial property, the commercial business owners, still manage the property. Perhaps the mayor would have some say if things got out of hand in some way, but the mayor apparently hasn't felt like Suburban was mismanaged, as evidence of failure to annex previously. And frankly, the only reason it's come up now, is because evil Walmart is coming with all that tax revenue, not because of gross mismanagement. And, there's absolutely nothing wrong with the management of the Publix property the way that it is, unless there's something going on that I'm not aware of. Try not to complicate the motives, it's just a money grab, plain and simple.
Meghan Ramsey April 17, 2012 at 06:44 PM
Funny how Decatur wasn't interested in Suburban Plaza until it looked like it would start generating some profit for them. I'll bet they wait until the Wal-Mart is built and then steal all of the tax revenue from the rest of us in the county.
David Harris April 17, 2012 at 06:45 PM
"Your conflicting 2 separate issues" Not at all. "...will have no benefit from the Decatur schools" I never claimed they would. Rather, City of Decatur does a far better job of zoning and pedestrian improvements such as sidewalks and crosswalks. I would much rather live in a house that's safely walkable to Publix / Wal-Mart than one that is not. Take, for instance, the narrow and dangerous sidewalk on N. Decatur just E. of Superior where N. Decatur crosses the creek. That sidewalk is *just* outside of the city limits. I'd love to see that sidewalk annexed and improved so I can take my kids in the stroller to Publix without fear of a tractor-trailer doing 60mph at the bottom of the hill flattening us. Also note the complete lack of a sidewalk on N. Decatur between Scott and Church St. next to Suburban Plaza. Pedestrians have to dodge cars in the Suburban Plaza parking lot. The pedestrian crosswalks at that intersection are also....dicey to say the least. Unless you're fleet of foot and paying very close attention, you're taking your life into your hands crossing that intersection. So, yes, there definitely are benefit to living adjacent to a properly zoned and improved commercial area, even if one's house is not zoned in the city.
David Harris April 17, 2012 at 06:46 PM
As for "money grab", I'll return the favor. Is it not also a "money grab" to expect to pay lower Dekalb Co. taxes and benefit from being adjacent to a city whose police department is responsive and actually solves crimes, thus lowering the local area crime rate, which in turn lowers property insurance rates and increases home value ?
Ms. April 17, 2012 at 06:55 PM
If it weren't a money grab, it would have happened before the Walmart came into play. Unless you're trying to push the point that this would have happened without the Walmart. Is that what you are suggesting?
David Harris April 17, 2012 at 07:04 PM
Ms. That's exactly what I'm suggesting. The major shift in the state political environment that is clearly anti-Dekalb has far more to do with it than Wal-Mart. Besides, if you don't like Wal-Mart moving in, you should be happy that Decatur is targeting Suburban Plaza for annexation. Decatur has a far better track record of zoning than does Dekalb Co.. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the winds of change, especially at the state level, are not favoring Dekalb Co. Is it fair? No. But, that's the way the winds seem to be blowing and Floyd is not an idiot.
Ms. April 17, 2012 at 07:15 PM
I think Dekalb Co. doesn't favor Dekalb Co. frankly, and I'm no cheerleader for them or Walmart. And For the record, I'm ambivalent about Walmart coming in, but I certainly don't outright oppose it because it was "Wal" in the title. You and I just see the motives for the annexation differently. That's all.
David Harris April 17, 2012 at 07:19 PM
Probably not that differently. I think we both agree the primary reason for annexation is indeed money. City of Decatur services and Dekalb Co. services both require money. Where we likely disagree is the relative degree that money factors into the decision and only Floyd knows that ;-)
Rod DeRemer April 17, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Actually, Mayor Floyd has voiced his opposition to Walmart building at Suburban Plaza. He has stated that if the shopping center was inside the city limits Walmart would not be approved.
Ed April 17, 2012 at 10:03 PM
It might be conscious effort or it might just be poor wording. The article says the addition of a Walmart is “an idea that upsets many Decaturites and county residents near Suburban Plaza.” Since “many” means a large number, I wonder if it would be more accurate to say “a few vocal Decaturites…” As far as I know, no one has taken a poll to determine what percentage of people who live near Suburban Plaza are in favor of, ambivalent about, or opposed to Walmart. Judging only from the “Stop Walmart” signs, it’s definitely a minority. Also, Rod DeRemer wrote, "Actually, Mayor Floyd has voiced his opposition to Walmart building at Suburban Plaza. He has stated that if the shopping center was inside the city limits Walmart would not be approved.” I don’t know much about city zoning authority, but can the mayor disapprove the deal between a property owner (Selig) and a tenant (Walmart) in a space that is already zoned commercial and is functioning as a shopping center? That seems extraordinarily heavy-handed.
Deanne April 17, 2012 at 11:03 PM
Hi Ms.- Interesting comment-- and the Mayor didn't criticize Selig's properties last night. Instead he said, “The property owner is not inclusive to including the community.” Later, when saying that the City didn't know the County's stance on their plan, he said that Radar and Gannon did as good a job as possible with the concessions negotiated for Suburban Plaza ( but that they don't have the needed future development rules in place). That seems to indicate he's somewhat okay about Suburban Plaza's immediate future. [As a neighborhood rep involved in the negotiations, I definitely agree that Commissioners Gannon and Radar, along with the other County Folks who assisted us, were helpful. I'd also like to add that the Selig and Walmart folks have been receptive to addressing concerns, and there's a plan for continued input. Bill Floyd might not realize that as he didn't seem to be aware that the concessions were compiled and negotiated by the surrounding neighborhoods. The County Folks were very respectful about stepping in only when needed and mostly to provide County related info.]
Deanne April 17, 2012 at 11:08 PM
Suburban Plaza's re-do includes a sidewalk (tree lined, even!) along the entire N. Decatur frontage. The parking lot will also be more pedestrian friendly. The six point intersection's being assessed by Dekalb, GDOT, and Selig. Unfortunately, as a heavy traffic state route road, cars will always be the #1 priority there.
Deanne April 17, 2012 at 11:12 PM
Rod- Last night he basically acknowledged that Walmart's coming in (not even an insult about it). He's focused on controlling future development.
Ms. April 18, 2012 at 12:02 AM
Deanne- I was really just being tongue-in-cheek with that comment in response to David's assertions. I am not anti-Walmart, and have actually been impressed with Selig's attempt to reach out to the surrounding neighbors, he was under no obligation to do so. This following isn't directed at you, just my thoughts on why I'm finding a hard time supporting the new annexation talk- When the Decatur and Avondale joint annexing happened, I could see the reason behind it, not that I agreed with it completely, but I got it. But I don't see any need to annex the Publix plaza whatsoever, the same with Suburban. More money for Decatur is great, but at the end of the day, it's not all about Decatur, and only Decatur's needs and kids. I didn't agree with SPLOST because Dekalb has major issues and a NEW tax (to me) sent the wrong message, but purposely eroding the funds from Dekalb that are already there, is something we need to think hard about. So assume annexing the Publix goes through, what's next, then the strip with Bike South, then the one with Eagle Eye, then the one with the Mexican restaurant, oh, there's a Holiday Inn down the street from there, that too? According to the logic of annexing Publix, all these things could be fair game.
Deanne April 18, 2012 at 04:27 AM
Ms.- I always appreciate that you look at what's what. (The part directed your way was meant as, “You know... you're right.” Hope that translates better! :0) We seem to be mulling over the same things... For me, the City lost some of its shine Monday night. While it's natural for the City to want to explore annexation, opting to go about it by insulting Selig, not informing Dekalb, and assuring CSD that the City intends to avoid as much residential as possible is the opposite of what I ever would've expected as a City resident, and it's troubling. That the annexation very well could get whisked through this new legislative “process” that seems purposely designed to gut Dekalb and Fulton truly bothers me.
Carol Bulmer April 18, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Jane, So true. I'm all for it if they want to annex my neighborhood, but it sounds like they just want the commercial property so they can benefit from the tax revenue. Adds insult to injury...We get the Walmart forced on us yet Decatur City will benefit from the tax revenue. The bitter pill gets even more bitter. Ouch!
Ms. April 19, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Thank you Deanne, and as usual- agreed. Hate to see another divisive issue coming along, when people haven't even mended fences over Walmart yet.
Frank English April 20, 2012 at 09:48 AM
If your property touches the city limits you can be annexed into the city this month or next week or tomorrow ! Well, not really but it would be easy to do. There are people who live off Columbia drive who are the only houses on that street (Carter, i believe) in the city. The city doesn't really like to do annexation like this because it makes a :"checker board" effect where the city provides services to this one and not the next, but sometimes they have to go this route because for some folks they truly want to be in the city limits and the next one would declare War if they got annexed. I think the city would love to have the surrounding neighborhoods come in but they must keep in mind any new citizens would go to Decatur schools and if they are not prepared for the increased capacity it might cause a problem. Here is something to think about though. If you are in the city, you DON'T give up your rights as a county citizen, but you DO gain rights as a citizen of the city. Yes you can still call your county district commissioner and speak about issues as well as your city council person. I know you will have to pay more taxes but folks Dekalb County is changing and is becoming more municipal with annexation by existing cities on the upswing and creation of New cities ....(Fulton and Gwinnett too!) Your vote has twice the power... Best wishes and Good Luck
Frank English April 20, 2012 at 09:50 AM
FYI If your house is only separated by a parcel of land in the city limits by a road, railroad track, or body of water it still counts as "touching" and is eligible for voluntary annexation. If you and everybody on your street want to come in the city and the guy on the end of the block touches the city then guess what? Annexation is a very real possibility for you. Good Luck and Best Wishes
Frank English July 04, 2012 at 03:05 AM
Additional Comment: Regarding the folks who want to call annexation a money grab? Well when you work somewhere don't you want a pay raise? Of course you do ! Don't you want to have a say in things that go on in and around your house or your community? Of Course you do ! Well, a city is a legal entity/corporation/political subdivision and it has needs and bills and concerns just like a person or family, etc. So why would anyone vilify them because they want to expand their tax base and sphere of control. If I lived in Decatur, I would call them (the Mayor & Council) irresponsible if they didn't consider these options. Its the way ALL cities grow and remain viable. Raising taxes is a option when annexation is not a available such as when cities are land locked. The city doesn't appear to be being greedy they are only seeking annexation of areas that are connected to the current city limits and that are for all points and purposes part of Decatur now. It really is the only way Decatur can grow and provide nice facilities and infrastructure to its current and future residents. A city can do this much easier than Dekalb Co. can because it is smaller and more responsive to its citizens needs. I don't mean to sound insensitve but people who live so close to the city should embrace Decatur and help it prosper or consider moving to a rural area where these issues aren't likely to come up too soon.
Frank English July 04, 2012 at 03:06 AM
Additional Comment: Regarding the folks who want to call annexation a money grab? Well when you work somewhere don't you want a pay raise? Of course you do ! Don't you want to have a say in things that go on in and around your house or your community? Of Course you do ! Well, a city is a legal entity/corporation/political subdivision and it has needs and bills and concerns just like a person or family, etc. So why would anyone vilify them because they want to expand their tax base and sphere of control. If I lived in Decatur, I would call them (the Mayor & Council) irresponsible if they didn't consider these options. Its the way ALL cities grow and remain viable. Raising taxes is a option when annexation is not a available such as when cities are land locked. The city doesn't appear to be being greedy they are only seeking annexation of areas that are connected to the current city limits and that are for all points and purposes part of Decatur now. It really is the only way Decatur can grow and provide nice facilities and infrastructure to its current and future residents. A city can do this much easier than Dekalb Co. can because it is smaller and more responsive to its citizens needs. I don't mean to sound insensiitve but people who live so close to the city should embrace Decatur and help it prosper or consider moving to a rural area where these issues aren't likely to come up too soon.

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