Clairmont Heights: ‘Don’t support Decatur’s annexation plan’

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt January 12, 2015
Map provided by the Clairmont Heights Civic Association

Map provided by the Clairmont Heights Civic Association

The Clairmont Heights Civic Association has sent a letter to members of the Georgia Legislature asking that they not support the city of Decatur’s annexation plan.

In the letter, Clairmont Heights President Michael Dowling says the annexation will remove $8 million in tax revenue from local schools.

“The City of Decatur intends to annex predominantly commercial property historically and geographically connected to our neighborhood without accepting the adjacent residents and families who support these businesses,” the letter says.

Decatur’s City Commission adopted its annexation master plan on Dec. 15. The plan encompasses 1.6 square miles and includes several commercial areas. The current ratio of residential to commercial property is 85 percent to 15 percent. The annexation plan, if approved by the voters, would change that ratio to 76 percent to 20 percent.

Today is the first day of the 2015 session of the General Assembly.

Here is the full letter from Clairmont Heights:

Jan. 11, 2015

To our elected representatives in the Georgia Legislature,

The Board of the Clairmont Heights Civic Association writes to protest the City of Decatur’s proposed Annexation Master Plan. We respectfully request that you object to legislation related to this plan during the 2015 session of the Georgia General Assembly.

Our Board feels that Decatur’s planned annexation harms and negatively impacts options for our neighborhood as annexation and city creation efforts in DeKalb County proceed. CHCA conducted a neighborhood survey in September to determine the course of action our residents preferred, and we have done our best to ensure that our opinions would be known and our voices heard as the legislature considers the current annexation and city creation efforts. CHCA officers and individual homeowners consulted with our local legislators and the Decatur City Manager to seek their advice over the past several months. In particular, following the advice we received from our local legislators, neighborhood members carefully pursued the petition process set forth by Decatur. Decatur declined to consider the petitions they had solicited.

The Clairmont Heights neighborhood abuts the City of Decatur (please see map attached as PDF). Our neighborhood students attend Fernbank Elementary School and Druid Hills High School, and Decatur’s proposal would change our contiguous nature to this school community. Specifically, the section designated as Area A would sever Clairmont Heights from the schools that have served it since the neighborhood was developed in the 1950s. Jurisdiction over the intersections involved in Area A is critical to safety, development, service delivery, and traffic issues important to our neighborhood, and our residents deserve a role in future developments in this key location.

The City of Decatur intends to annex predominantly commercial property historically and geographically connected to our neighborhood without accepting the adjacent residents and families who support these businesses. Their proposal would remove an estimated $8 million in annual tax revenue that supports our local schools while simultaneously cutting our contiguous relationship with these schools. Furthermore, the Decatur proposal negatively impacts other efforts our neighbors are pursuing to secure a strong voice for Clairmont Heights as DeKalb communities contemplate future city boundaries.

This intersection and section of North Decatur Road are currently proposed as possible routes for future light rail development. Decatur’s jurisdiction over this area leaves our neighborhood without a voice in a critical transportation issue.

We respectfully request that you object to annexation by the City of Decatur during the 2015 session.

Signed by Board members of the Clairmont Heights Civic Association

Michael Dowling, President

Pete Rumsey, Vice President                                   Jim Smith

Pam Daily, Treasurer                                                 Brian Feagans

Nancy Moore, Recording Secretary                        Ian Sifuentes

Julia Byrne, Corresponding Secretary                    Mike Fink

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  • Bill Jones

    Don’t take the commercial property Decatur! We need it for our unincorporated DeKalb schools. However, we joined “Together in Atlanta” so we’re going to support taking those schools from DeKalb and giving them to the city of Atlanta. We will accuse Decatur of screwing DeKalb over in the meantime right before we do it.
    Clarimont Heights, how hypocritical can you be? You need these commercial properties that a sliver of your neighborhood connects to, so that the “kids can be safe”? I don’t see a lot of kids crossing Clairmont to get to Fernbank. Give me a break.

    • Susan in NoMansLand

      Agreed. You can’t talk about wanting to keep the feeder school pattern whole while at the same time giving us Laurel Ridge & McLendon folks the shaft. This letter is smoke & mirrors for TIA.

      • DHer

        If Clairmont Heights and Medlock join City of Atlanta, Laurel Ridge and McLendon could have a path into City. Atlanta is welcoming everyone and taxes on a $300,000 house are $53 more expensive in Atl than unincorporated DeKalb. For a $200,000 property, it’s cheaper in city. Atl is moving forward. Where’s dekalb headed?

        • Susan In NoMansLand

          If I wanted to live in Atlanta, I would have bought a house in that hot mess years ago. No thanks.

  • CHneighbor

    Clairmont Heights made a good faith effort to work with the City of Decatur using their process. The Mayor of Decatur even used our neighborhood as an example of how to work within the city’s framework. Yet, the Mayor and council then refused to even acknowledge our efforts or respond to requests for discussions. Instead, the city pushed forward with an annexation that severs Clairmont Heights from its elementary school zone, takes critical transportation entry points, and removes our voice from community concerns. This is how you treat neighbors?

  • Bill Jones

    “Severs Clairmont Heights from its elementary school zone?” Are you saying that the busses won’t be allowed to drive down Clairmont and take a right on N Decatur if annexation goes through? Will Decatur erase the crosswalks? Are you honestly making the argument that Decatur won’t be a better steward of that property than the DeKalb County government?
    CH wants to use this property as a bargaining chip to enter Atlanta with Druid Hills. Nothing more. Maybe Decatur is doing a land grab, but at least they aren’t trying to mislead about their intentions. This looks like Alex Wan got with your board on a conference call and told you what to do.

  • CHneighbor

    Decatur will not be a better steward. This is no longer an argument. They have proven the point with their actions. Further, Mr. Wan has proven to be a regional leader with foresight and is welcome.

    • DecaturNeighbor

      Save the faux concern.
      TIA is trying to rob Dekalb of a major school facility that is fed by several other Dekalb elementary schools. That little section of commercial property being in Decatur isn’t going to harm CH or anyone else.

      • CHneighbor

        I guess you know best for us. LOL. You want my dog too?

        • DecaturNeighbor

          I know CH doesn’t have a single home in the Decatur annex plan, so you don’t have a dog in this hunt. If you think that CH owns that commercial property, then annex it. Oh wait, CH isn’t even a municipality!
          That was the letter you should have started with to your elected representatives in the State Legislature, “Neighbor”.

          • CHneighbor

            Well actually…Clairmont Heights does have homes in the Decatur annexation area (and already in Decatur). Decatur is going deeper simply to grab all the additional entrances (yea one) to our hood – complicating delivery of services, limiting our options and basically, slapping us in the face. Ya can’t seem to make up your mind. Your fire, police – actually all your services – have to drive deep into our hood just to simply turn around. So, while we may not be a municipality, it is true that you guys are – so don’t you think you would have some better planners that could see how you box us in and harm our children? “Neighbor”

          • DecaturNeighbor

            Harm your children? Slapping you in the face?? LOL
            Save the drama for your mama.
            CH has 0%, none, null, ownership interest or even stake; for good or ill, in Decatur’s annex plan because you are *not* included in it. You are acting like Decatur is going to build a wall and moat around the city limits. Pure nonsense.

          • CHneighbor

            Mama called. She said the truth always gets them. She said your elected officials passed the annexation with ‘regrets’ so that says enough all by itself. Nonsense is what you are doing to your neighbors.

          • DHH

            If Decatur takes the “A” parcel, I plan to rent out a 2 bedroom in one of the apartment complex that goes with it, or rent out one of the townhomes in the “B” parcel. I’ll reside there, pay utilities, etc while the kids go to school in Decatur. Heck, I’ll probably just rent out my current house. I suppose the CDS can play defense on one or two families doing this, but a flash mob of all families in Clairmont Heights suddenly renting in Decatur would be virtually unstoppable.

  • Insight

    Actually Decatur is in a heap of financial trouble and needs these commercial properties for their schools to survive. Atlanta is the only one not commercial property grabbing because they don’t have to. It’s sad because our largest employers in DeKalb are not taxpayers – the county is largest followed by educational exemptee Emory. It’s the result of a decade of bad government driving businesses away. Cannot blame anyone for choosing fiscally viable Atlanta. Plus it’s a cool DIVERSE city…

    • notapunk

      And all the cool parts will be just as far from your neighborhood as they are right now.

    • Thisten

      There are going to be challenges if annexation moves forward or if it fails, but I’d like to know how “Decatur… needs these commercial properties for their schools to survive.” How is that a factual statement?

      • Susan In NoMansLand

        If you’ve paid any attention at all to the Decatur meetings, you would know that the Decatur leaders, both city & school, bring that up at every turn. Decatur needs a larger commercial tax base to continue operating is schools ay the current level.

  • Save Tucker!

    Can someone post this “possible future location of light rail” he is talking about? Other areas might like to know that information as well.

    • Susan In NoMansLand

      Search for the MedLine project. It’s been well publicized.

    • Susan In NoMansLand

      Google “MedLine.” There’s been quite a bit about it, as it has been in the planning stagers for quite some time.

  • jo

    I’m stunned that anyone would trust Atlanta or APS. Does anyone remember the cheating scandal? Where was the city? The cheating scandal showed just how low CofA and APS will go. They will not keep the school clusters together and the money will not be raised here/spent here. Currently the CofA and APS are fighting each other over money. Atlanta in Dekalb is a very bad idea. What we need is Atlanta out of Dekalb

    • DH Resident

      Yes, because DeKalb schools are a beacon of modern education.

      • Susan In NoMansLand

        Have you spoken to DeKalb teachers? DeKalb is in a MUCH better place than it was 2 years ago when the Charter Cluster discussion started. I can’t soak to how things are going at DHHS, but at the DeKalb County high school where I teach, we have had a great year & are excited about the future in DeKalb. Yes, it sucked for quite a while, BUT ask your TEACHERS how they feel about the direction DeKalb is moving in today. I really feel like most of you patents have not taken the time to do that.

        Too, if you love your child’s school so much, you must realize that it is the teachers who have the most day-to-day impact on your children, not the county. If you jump ship for APS, you’re going to have completely different teachers & a completely different school for your kids. Good luck with that, & don’t come crying to me when it all blows up in your face.

        DeKalb is full of teachers who went to DeKalb schools back in the day, when DeKalb really was the top in the state. And we are working to get back the way it used to be. This is NOT the same district it was under Crawford Lewis or Cheryl Atkinson. We are moving in the right direction, but you fail to see it.

  • UdontOwnThat

    Boy, sure is interesting to see all these folks who feel entitled to ownership of a Publix shopping center because they live nearby. I guess I own the Wal-Mart.

  • CHNeighbor

    “All board members said they were sorry they have to do any of this at all…”

    “Board member Annie Caiola tried to get her fellow board members to agree to a fifth condition: that CSD would work with neighboring communities…”

    The truth is CH is completely affected by the annexation and has our transportation, municipal services, and educational needs at stake, but you are right that we do not have any say at your city council. But, we do have a say as the State Capitol. Thus, the reason we ask our representatives to put a stop to this aggressive nonsense.

    • DecaturNeighbor

      You and CH have failed to provide a single logical explanation as to how CH would be effected in any way. Nothing will change for CH. You live in unincorporated Dekalb and that will remain the same. Schools, the same. So what’s the problem?
      This is just sour, bitter grapes… and our shared elected reps in the State Leg are hearing from us too. Make no mistake about that.

  • Susan In NoMansLand
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