Rep. Oliver posts survey asking for input on cityhood, annexation

Posted by Dena Mellick July 29, 2015
Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Georgia state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, is asking for input on the annexation and cityhood issue.

Rep. Oliver was recently appointed to the House Study Committee on Cityhood, Annexation and De-Annexation.

She said in the email to her constituents, “Hearings have been scheduled by Chairman Jan Tankersley at the Capitol for September 1, 24, and October 6. All hearings will be open to the public, and hopefully will be broadcast live on the Georgia General Assembly website.”

Oliver said, “our current process needs to be more rational based on both economics and the wishes of the voters, more transparent, and operate on a known timetable.” She posed these survey questions:

1. Should all new cities be required to follow a specific two year timetable before the voters are given the ultimate decision by a referendum vote?

2. An economic feasibility study to create a new city must be filed by a specific date, and be conducted by only a Georgia university fiscal economics department.

3. An economic feasibility study must contain data on the impact on the county.

4. Maps for new cities must be filed by a specific date and not altered thereafter.

5. Should all members of a county delegation, or just members of a delegation who include territory to be changed, have authority to veto a proposed annexation into a city?

6. Should voters have a formal statutory process to be de-annexed from a city?

Here’s the online survey. Rep. Oliver said she hopes to find possible solutions with state Sen. Elena Parent, who was appointed Chair of a Senate Study Committee on Cityhood.

In an email sent earlier this month, Sen. Parent said she hoped the Study Committee would “bring the key players to the table for an honest discussion on how creating cities, and annexing unincorporated areas, can be transparent and fair to all those impacted.”

Parent also said the other members of the Senate committee are state Senators Charlie Bethel, R-Dalton, Frank Ginn, R-Danielsville, Fran Millar, R-Dunwoody, and John Albers, R-Roswell.

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.

About Dena Mellick

Dena Mellick is the Associate Editor of

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  • RAJ

    I had a meeting at the Capitol last week With MMO staff.

  • Dan Wright

    I tried to take the survey but was prompted, “You’ve already taken this survey.” I don’t believe I have.

    • RAJ

      Tom Doolittle and I are working on a proposal for the first joint House-Senate meeting in Sept and I hope Dan will be kind enough to help us all as we did not have much time to discuss this at tonight’s CAN meeting. It’s very important to get some basic procedures in place for the 2017 Legislative Session. I had a long discussion about this with CS in MMO’s office last Wed.

    • Eva Shaw

      Same here. I have not taken the survey. Makes me a little uneasy with the leadership of this survey. How can they expect a fair opinion when some sort of monitoring is happening.

  • notapunk

    Apparently, it was an email to SOME of her constituents. The rest of us can go pound sand. Thanks so much, MMO.

  • DecaturMax

    Somehow I have already taken the survey too.

  • Marnie

    Please have Constant Contact correct the problem with people not being allowed into survey.

  • Thisten

    Well, I’m certainly not surprised that you guys can’t remember taking the survey. Let me fill you in. We were all out at our local pub for a couple of beers. One beer turned into two which turned into three, you know how it goes. You guys were starting to get a little wild and crazy, and I (the designated driver) was starting to get a little concerned. Then, DecaturMax said, “Hey, I know, let’s take Mary Margaret Oliver’s online survey!” Dan Wright replied, “Great idea!” We all took the survey, had a few more laughs, paid our tab, and I drove you home. True story.

  • Tom Doolittle
  • sadnmb

    Funny said I already took survey also. Find it funny that MMO is doing a survey now. Personally find it funny that the committee is made up with all Republicans. The way this has been done somebody should go to court to stop election. First they did nit wait for feasibility study. Then they they failed to wait the 2 years required by law. To me though the biggest problem is at last minute they changed the boundaries splitting neighborhoods and in one case splitting an apartment complex, half in city and half out of city.

    • RAJ

      Check Tom’s post below and you can see why we need an early start on this issue. Some of the things that you mention may be preventable with a little planning for the next legislative session. Don’t think anyone wants to go thru what happened the last two years. I have two annexation maps and a city of Briarcliff map ready to have pre-filed in November if needed, and others are in the works from what I heard at last night’s meeting.

    • RAJ

      One important Democrat on each committee, that’s the way it works when Republicans are in control. Map changing rules and parcel splitting could be addressed in the legislation….neighborhoods are a more complex issue…..and Tom and I are looking into all this good stuff!

      • sadnmb

        Will you be looking into whether this will be a legal election. Thought law required feasibility study to be done before it went to a vote by the citizens. Feasibility study came back after legislators voted for the referendum. Also thought there was two year waiting period after proposal of new city. This was not followed either. Know they said both Lakeside and Briarcliff was brought up in previous session. That is not the same as LaVista Hills proposal. Totally different boundaries in their proposal. Know boundaries were changed by legislators. Why at last minute. Thought it was electorate to decide, not the people who were elected. Hope there is a backlash on these Representatives.

        • RAJ

          We hope new laws will help prevent mistakes we made in past years!

          • sadnmb

            Why not correct mistakes you know were made this year. All you can hope for is nobody goes to court to stop this election. Then it just costs people money and state government look like fools if overturned. If MMO really wants to represent all the people, why not get ruling from Attorney General on whether it was legal. Fix what State Legislators broke and know they broke.

        • RAJ

          Sorry too late now!

          • sadnmb

            You are right, the laws have been ignored and broken. It is too late to keep that from happening. Since no politician will ever admit they made a mistake, thousands of people have to live with the laws being ignored. That is why MMO has lost my vote. Hope other people remember that their reps think the laws mean nothing to them.

  • Dagmar

    I also couldn’t take the survey – got an “You’ve already taken this survey” message. Shifty??

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