Committee appointed to study annexation and cityhood

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt July 2, 2015
DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

DeKalb County Georgia. Source: Google Maps.

The state Legislature is looking to reform the convoluted annexation and cityhood process that vexed DeKalb County delegation this year.

The House has appointed a study committee on Annexation, Deannexation, and Incorporation. All of its five members are Republican, except state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur.

“I have served on the House Governmental Affairs Committee through all the new city efforts in DeKalb since creation of the city of Dunwoody – a contentious and frequently painful process,” Oliver said. “I asked to be on the … Study Committee to examine how our new city and annexation processes can be improved.”

She called it a, “Timely discussion.”

It’s a discussion that could influence how new cities are formed and how annexations occur throughout the state.

It certainly isn’t going away. Depending on how new city proposals do at the ballot this year, plans to annex unincorporated areas of DeKalb into existing or new cities could be resurrected in the 2016 session.

Bills allowing for a vote on incorporating new cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills this November prevailed in the 2015 session, while annexation plans for Decatur, Atlanta and Avondale Estates fell by the wayside.

While that sounds straightforward, the path to getting there was anything but. Legislators debated which proposals should take priority when they considered the overlapping boundaries of annexation and cityhood proposals. There are several methods under state law for annexing unincorporated territory into a new city. The Legislature also bent the rules to allow Tucker and LaVista Hills to move forward in this year’s session, instead of making the cities wait two years. LaVista Hills combined the previous cityhood movements of Briarcliff and Lakeside, thus creating a new map that didn’t have to wait two years before being considered. Cityhood supporters argued that their proposals had already been considered in one form or another in the 2014 session, and the rule should be waived. The Legislature agreed, though not without some worry about establishing a bad precedent for creating new cities.

Speaker of the House David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, appointed the five member panel. Other members are:

– Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Brooklet), Chair

– Rep. Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta)

– Rep. Ed Rynders (R-Albany)

– Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody)

“This study committee is established by House Resolution 743 and will review current annexation, deannexation, and incorporation laws and procedures to ensure that the process is clear, open, equitable, and in the best interest of the citizens of Georgia,” a press release from the House Communications Office says.

Beskin’s inclusion on the panel is notable because of another piece of legislation that didn’t survive this year’s session. Beskin introduced a bill that would change the process for annexation referendums. Currently only people in the area to-be annexed have a right to vote under the state law. Beskin’s legislation would change the rules so people in both the existing cities and the proposed areas to be annexed would get a chance to vote.

Taylor’s inclusion is also noteworthy, because he sponsored the LaVista Hills bill, even though the proposed city is not actually in his district.

About Dan Whisenhunt

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

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  • Cheryl Willis Miller

    That’s funny. They said they appointed five but only listed the 4 whom they intend to listen to. Mary Margaret Oliver (D – Decatur) was the fifth appointee, by the way.

    • notapunk

      The article clearly names Mary Margaret Oliver and quotes her in two paragraphs above the list of the other four appointed members.

      • And most people do not read all the paragraphs leading up to a bulleted list. They read the headline; They read the list.

        • notapunk

          And that’s one reason they are ill-informed and make silly mistakes.

  • SHE WANTED TO DO WHAT???? Beskin introduced a bill that would change the process for annexation referendums. Currently only people in the area to-be annexed have a right to vote under the state law. Beskin’s legislation would change the rules so people in both the existing cities and the proposed areas to be annexed would get a chance to vote. NO WAY… THESE PEOPLE ARE INSANE!

    • travelingfool

      Crazy isnt it! Imagine allowing people to vote on something that could have amajor effect on them. The NERVE of those politicians!

      • Bernie

        Don’t forget business owners in the area to be annexed. Annexation would have a major effect on them, e.g., zoning and taxes. Their consent should be required, too.

        • I’m surprised t here were not m ore b usinesses giving solid proof about where their customers live based on consumer data.

          • Bernie

            Businesses are stakeholders in the annexation process because the annexing city would acquire jurisdiction to regulate them and tax their property. Their status as stakeholders would not be affected by where their customers live.

      • Maybe I misunderstood the intent … did you read it to say that those inside a city and those in a potential annexation area would both be allowed to vote and the votes combined would determine the outcome?

        • travelingfool

          Tongue was planted firmly in cheek. Article states “Beskin introduced a bill that would change the process for annexation referendums. Currently only people in the area to-be annexed have a right to vote under the state law. Beskin’s legislation would change the rules so people in both the existing cities and the proposed areas to be annexed would get a chance to vote.”

      • allowing? Are they our parents, now? They “allow” us to vote on things? Maybe you are forgetting a pretty important t hing – they work for us. We “allow” them to hold an office to represent us.

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