Avondale Estates annexation timeline

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 29, 2014
This map was part of legislation filed by state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, that would've annexed areas into Avondale Estates.

This is a map of areas described in legislation filed by state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, that would’ve called for an annexation referendum. This map was created by the City of Tucker Initiative website and published on March 24.

Elected officials in Avondale Estates will hold a special called work session on Oct. 1 to discuss the city’s annexation plans.

Mayor Ed Rieker called the work session after a tense Sept. 22 meeting where residents questioned the mayor about a bill filed by state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates that included a proposed annexation map. The residents wanted to know where the bill came from. The mayor told them to refer those questions to Drenner.

Drenner said the request to file the bill came from Rieker and Commissioner Lindsay Forlines.

Decaturish.com filed a records request with the city of Avondale Estates and requested information from Rep. Drenner’s office. The records create a timeline that help to provide a clearer understanding of how Avondale got to this point in the annexation discussion. The timeline can also be expanded to cover gaps between the end of the 2014 legislative session and the beginning of the current annexation debate. If you have records pertaining to this issue, please contact editor@decaturish.com. Anonymity is guaranteed.

Here is the timeline we’ve constructed so far …

Avondale Estates 2014 Annexation Timeline

Jan. 16 – Clai Brown sends an email to Karla Drenner with the subject line City of Avondale Estates Proposed Annexation. The email is copied to Mayor Ed Rieker and the City Clerk. It includes an attachment showing the boundaries of the proposed annexation that became part of a bill that Drenner introduced in March. That same day, Brown forwarded an email from Drenner to Rieker. In the email, Drenner acknowledges receiving the boundaries of the proposed annexation. No one else is copied on this email. Brown did not respond to an email asking who directed him to send this information to Drenner’s office.

Here are the emails (click to enlarge):

Feb. 1 – Date on a flyer promoting the benefits of annexation into Avondale Estates. This flyer was later distributed to Forrest Hills residents.

Here is the flyer in question:

Joining_AE_Presentation (1)

Feb. 3 – Several DeKalb County Mayors attend a meeting of the DeKalb County Delegation to present their annexation maps. Avondale Estates Commissioner Lindsay Forlines was there in her capacity as President of the DeKalb Municipal Association, according to notes from the meeting provided by Drenner. “Ms. Forlines said that DMA disputes the information put out by the County regarding municipalization and annexation,” the meeting notes say. To read the notes from this meeting, click here.

Feb. 8 – An email from a new resident to the area is sent to members of the Forrest Hills Neighborhood. The email says, “Recently a really good friend of mine who is also a commissioner in Avondale Estates sent me a flyer from their Mayor discussing the possibility of adjacent neighborhoods joining AE.” The flyer created Feb. 1 was attached to the email. Here is the text of the email. It was provided to Decaturish on the condition not to identify the original sender.

Recently a really good friend of mine who is also a commissioner in Avondale Estates sent me a flyer from their Mayor discussing the possibility of adjacent neighborhoods joining AE. Being a new resident, I have no idea if this even interests our neighborhood, but thought the information was quite intriguing. The security aspect alone is worth taking a look, especially in light of there being no increase in taxes.  I know there was a lot of talk about City of Decatur annexing FH in the past, but did not know if joining AE has even been discussed. The flyer is attached below; please feel free to share. Again, being a new resident I really just don’t know many folks yet and would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on the matter.

Feb. 15 – Forrest Hills Neighborhood Association reps meet with Avondale Estates Mayor Ed Rieker. Rieker answers several questions pertaining to annexation. There is no discussion about the possibility of state Rep. Karla Drenner filing a bill pertaining to annexation, according to the account published on the Forrest Hills website. To read the notes from this meeting, click here.

March 7 – Rep. Karla Drenner introduces HB 1130 which would’ve called for a referendum on the question of whether to incorporate the areas included in the map she received from Avondale officials. To see the text of this bill and its legislative history, click here.

March 12- Last known action on HB 1130 listed as Senate Read and Referred.

April 14 – Mayor Ed Rieker and representatives from DeKalb County attend a Forrest Hills Neighborhood Association meeting to answer questions about annexation. According to meeting minutes, Rieker did not mention the bill filed by Rep. Karla Drenner. To read the minutes of this meeting, click here.

April 21 – Avondale Estates resident John Mizell speaks during public comments at the April 21 City Commission meeting. He asks Mayor Ed Rieker about annexation.

Here is what Rieker told him, according to audio from the meeting:

“There was a bill that was dropped back in February I guess, along with some other cities dropping annexation bills and nothing came of it. The Forrest Hills Association has asked me to talk to them twice about annexation, and so I met with them, I think it was last week or the week before. Sorry, I’m a little muddled on last week’s timing. The county was also there, Larry Johnson and almost every chief operating whatever was there, the CFO, a bunch of county people were there, about 30 people in the room, and they’re interested, they’re hearing things about new cities that are going to possibly surround Avondale Estates, so a lot of neighbors are starting to talk to other municipalities about perhaps joining an existing municipality, as opposed to a new one. We’ve also met with the condos, Stratford Green, we met with them last week or the week before. I’ve also met with the Katie Kerr Association. I think there’s five of them, and mostly what they’re interested in, there’s a 60 percent annexation method, where if you get 60 percent of the total land mass collected you can bring another 40 percent in. It’s really difficult to do on a residential parcel-by-parcel basis, but I think that’s what they’re interested in doing right now.”

According to the audio, Mizell then said, “So they initiated it?”

“Yes,” Rieker said. “They initiated (it). If the bill had passed it would be a referendum where the residents would’ve voted yes or no going from the county into whatever city.”

To listen to the audio, click here.

July 23 – Forrest Hills announces on its website that residents have formed a group to pursue annexation into Avondale Estates. To see that announcement, click here.

Aug. 26 – State House Governmental Affairs Committee meets with representatives of three potential new cities: Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker. The committee tells the cityhood groups they have until Nov. 15 to come to an agreement on city boundary lines, or the committee chair will appoint a panel to draw the maps for the new cities.

Here is the full press release published after that meeting:

Contact: Betsy Lynch
Tuesday, August 26, 2014

House Committee Gives Instructions to DeKalb Cityhood Proponents

ATLANTA—Today State Representatives Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven) and Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) met with Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker cityhood proponents to discuss directions issued by House Governmental Affairs Committee Chairwoman Amy Carter (R-Valdosta) for DeKalb County cityhood boundary line proposals.  The House Governmental Affairs Committee oversees legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives involving the creation of new cities.

“Tom Taylor and I worked with Rep. Carter, Chair of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, to develop a process for DeKalb County cityhood proponents to follow as we approach next session,” said Rep. Jacobs. “Our goal for this process is to encourage all stakeholders to engage in conversations now about cityhood boundary lines and to ensure any remaining disputes are resolved prior to 2015.”

The directions for drawing cityhood proposals are as follows:

– Each of the three DeKalb County cityhood proponent groups (City of Briarcliff Initiative, Lakeside Yes, and Tucker 2015) will have until September 5 to identify one authorized signatory for a compromise boundary map.

– DeKalb County cityhood proponents have until November 15 to come to a mutual agreement on city boundary lines and submit the agreed upon map bearing three signatures from the authorized signatories to the House Governmental Affairs Committee.

– If an agreement cannot be reached by that date, House Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Amy Carter will appoint a panel of five state House members to carry out the task of drawing city boundaries for the proposed cities. The panel’s sole charge will be to produce a boundary map no later than December 31 by majority vote of the panel.

– Either the agreed upon map by cityhood proponents or the map drawn by the legislative panel will be the only acceptable version that the House Governmental Affairs Committee will consider.

“This process Rep. Jacobs and Rep. Taylor developed gives cityhood proponents in DeKalb County the best chance for successful passage of legislation that will allow new city proposals to go before the voters for consideration,” said House Governmental Affairs Committee Chair Amy Carter. “There is a need to bring order to this process and the directions outlined to the stakeholders today will accomplish just that.”

Sept. 15 – Avondale Estates Planning and Zoning Board meets. Annexation and zoning are on the agenda under “old business.” To see that agenda, click here.

Sept. 18 – A resident who attended the meeting, Lisa Shortell, emails other residents to alert them to the annexation bill filed by Rep. Karla Drenner and the efforts to annex Forrest Hills.

Sept. 22 – Avondale Estates residents attend the regular City Commission meeting and question Mayor Ed Rieker about the city’s annexation plans. He refers questions to state Rep. Karla Drenner.

Sept. 23 – Mayor Ed Rieker calls an Oct. 1 work session to discuss annexation.

Got anything else to add to this timeline? Shoot us an email: editor@decaturish.com. Anonymity is guaranteed. 


About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

View all posts by Dan Whisenhunt

  • gzhampton

    Why is the United Methodist Children Home not being considered for Annexation into the Avondale? I would think it would be a ideal place than City of Decatur.

  • DHer

    What’s that smell in this room? Didn’t you notice it, Brick? Didn’t you notice a powerful and obnoxious odor of mendacity in this room?… There ain’t nothin’ more powerful than the odor of mendacity… Tennessee Williams; Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

    • michael

      You should have been at the mea culpa parade on Oct. 1….. If you want the smell of mendacity?

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