Medlock rebuts Decatur Mayor on annexation

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt November 7, 2014
MANA neighborhood boundary. Map updated in Sept 29, 2014 to reflect  neighborhood watch and newsletter distribution coverage already in place. Click to enlarge. Source:

MANA neighborhood boundary. Map updated in Sept 29, 2014 to reflect
neighborhood watch and newsletter distribution coverage already
in place. Click to enlarge. Source:

The Medlock Area Neighborhood Association published a lengthy response to recent comments by Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett.

Medlock isn’t in Decatur’s annexation plan, though some early survey results show 66 percent of 224 respondents want to join Decatur. But city officials have warned off neighborhoods who aren’t in the city’s plan. Decatur officials believe more residential property will put too much strain on the city’s school system. A recent study of enrollment published by City Schools of Decatur suggests the city will face capacity issues unless Decatur annexes more property.

Decatur is primarily looking for more commercial property. It’s got its eye on revenue-rich parcels like Suburban Plaza that Medlock wants on its annexation resume. Without the commercial property, the proposed new cities might be reluctant to include Medlock in their maps, leaving 1,300 home neighborhood an unincorporated island in DeKalb County.

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During a City Commission Meeting on Nov. 3, Baskett said, ” … These people that were here tonight who live in some of those areas who were saying we want to stay in the county of DeKalb seem, to me, to be burying their heads in the sand.”

MANA called out Decatur’s mayor over his “heads in the sand” remark.

“As of right now, Medlock Park and nearby neighborhoods are not known to be in any map other than the unincorporated DeKalb map,” MANA wrote on its website. “Thus, ‘these people’s’ heads are not ‘in the sand’ but rather, held high as they call out City of Decatur’s unreasonable annexation proposal… just like City of Decatur residents would be justified in calling foul if unincorporated DeKalb or a new city reached inside Decatur’s existing borders to cherry-pick commercial property.”

The MANA post also says recent public statements from the city don’t match up with what Baskett told neighborhood reps during a private meeting. The city published a letter written by the city manager and city school superintendent. The letter says the city must take in more land to “stabilize and minimize future tax increases.”

“During their meeting with MANA leadership, representatives from City of Decatur insisted that their annexation map is not about money, it is about protecting the city’s ‘gateways’ and being mindful of overburdening their school system,” MANA’s letter says. “It is good to finally hear Decatur admit that it has concerns about its ability to sustain the quality of its brand, namely, the ‘value’ they can deliver vs their tax rates.”

To read the full response from MANA, click here.

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  • Rabbit47

    One thing that is curious to me is why a neighborhood as large as Medlock would not include in any discussions of annexation to an existing entity, i.e. COD, some proposals as to how to make such an annexation viable. I have seen no discussions of increased impact on City services and schools and how that impact might be mitigated from outside parties. Is it enough to say, now that DeKalb County is proving to be an increasingly poor governmental option and so many others are divvying up what’s left of DeKalb, we would like to please join your City.

    Is it appropriate to act offended every time concerns are raised from within the City about the City’s ability to take on more residential areas. This is not high school, with all the cool kids sitting at one table, etc. There are specific and serious issues involved.

    Many of the residents of the City have made specific choices and, in some cases, sacrifices to locate within the City limits.

    On the other hand, having watched the last COD work session, I must say, I am very disappointed by the laid-back approach of the City Commission. I have seen swim & tennis club boards that were more informed and energetic than our City Commission.

    Is it time for a committee to be formed to deal solely with this issue? Perhaps two Commissioners and three community members with staff.

    This seems to be a still evolving situation.

    • Rabbit47

      As an addendum to my previous comment, now that I have looked at the entire MANA response: it is a measured response. However, it still sounds as if there is some sort of feud being waged via blog rather than by direct contact (cudos to Decaturish). And there seems to be an inclination to lecture on what should have been done and how it should have been done, rather than suggestions regarding how BEST (for all concerned) to proceed.

      • Notsofast…

        To the best of understanding MANA was told, in no uncertain terms, that the CoD was not interested in the MANA neighborhood, and only wants the commercial property adjoining the residential. What you are suggesting, end the blog based arguments and hold hands, was already attempted and rebuffed by CoD.

        Rabbit47, everyone respects the choices and sacrifices made by CoD residents. However, neighborhoods outside the city have as much right to act offended about the CoD proposed annexation as city residents do about their crazy high taxes. Imagine, just for a moment, that you lived in the MANA neighborhood, and you were faced with not being on any map, and the perceived assets your neighborhood appreciated (commercial property surrounding the neighborhood), was being eyed by a neighboring city for annexation. If that annexation were to succeed it would leave a modest residential area with nothing to bring to the table for a potential new city and nothing to offer other existing cities as trade to offset the residential burden. To MANA residents, this is akin to strip mining an area of its natural resources and giving nothing back to the community (Even the neighborhood church where MANA holds meetings would be annexed!).

        Ultimately this is all colored by where you live. If you live in the CoD I can imagine you want your taxes down at all costs. If you live in the MANA represented neighborhood you would see this as Russia’s forced annexation of Crimea. For MANA residents, Rabbit47, this is much more serious than a high school squabble, this is about the long term future of a very vibrant Medlock community.

        • NobodysChild

          Eloquently said, NotSoFast. I particularly admire your resisting the urge to respond in the same tone, which I have a hard time doing.

          • Rabbit47

            My comments were not meant to offer any “tone” whatsoever. Merely to suggest that for a sizable neighborhood to seek to join an existing school system (the prospect of a new DeKalb city does not come with a new school system), a different approach from any I have read about might be useful.

            I offered neither support nor opposition to any proposed annexation.

            The fact that two people quickly took offense with my comments is more validation than refutation.

            Much of the commercial properties mentioned appear to be outside the MANA boundaries, in a no-man’s area border by the COD as much as by any other neighborhood. I know from personal experience that those business receive a great of business from COD residents.

            In fairness, I’m not sure that the businesses in question can be rightfully claimed by any jurisdiction other than DeKalb County.

          • Notsofast…

            It’s never easy to pick up tone through a blog posting. That’s one of the least desirable attributes of this type of communication.

            No offense and Point well taken, Rabbit47. The commercial property cannot be “claimed” by any party. Nonetheless, if there were businesses adjacent to CoD without much contiguous residential, I think we would all agree that the city is well within its rights to annex. However, we’re talking about CoD carving out a chunk of commercial where MANA has invested a large amount of resources and has been very active in promoting growth and redevelopment. And any development or improvement in that commercial comes back indirectly to the neighborhood through more well funded Delalb services. If CoD steps in, all that effort will only mainly benefit CoD.

            To me, this is mainly about fairness. The perception on this side is that CoD is using their future school system woes as justification to be unfair and not be a good neighbor.

          • Fedupw/COD

            A pettion was signed last year, by all the businesses at the intersection of Clairmont and N Decatur (Emory Commons, Kinkos etc, etc) all the way down Scott (Ace Hardware, Meltons etc) including Surburban Plaza, against annexing into the City of Decatur. Not one business wanted to be a part od COD so why do they have the right to force businesses to enter into their city and pay more taxes?

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