Annexation into the City of Atlanta is a contentious debate dividing residents in unincorporated south Fulton County.
Proponents and opponents of Atlanta annexation have made their voices heard at every level of government; state, county and now, city.
At the Tuesday, 18 May 2015 Atlanta City Council meeting, municipal representatives heard from both sides.
"Those of us who have submitted the petitions did so because we did not want to be a part of the city of South Fulton," Sandtown resident John Davis said.
On 2 April 2015, petitions were received from the Sandtown, Loch Lomond, and South Oaks communities requesting annexation into the Atlanta. The petitions, which by law must contain both 60% of the private property owners and 60% of the registered voters in the affected area, are currently pending before the Atlanta City Council.
South Fulton Residents Bring the Annexation Debate to Atlanta's City Council
"Several residents of Sandtown approached the City of Atlanta," Davis said. "No one forced us. No one held us at any kind of intimidation or threat."
Others, against the proposed annexation, told Atlanta City Council members they were concerned the move could displace students, close schools, and shut down local parks.
"We cannot have closed parks, closed schools just sitting around," Anthony Williams said. "Please stop this annexation proposal right now."
One south Fulton resident, Damita Chatman, even accused district 11 City Council Member Keisha Lance Bottoms of having a hidden agenda.
"I ask Ms. Bottoms what is your hidden agenda in this!," Chatman shrieked at the podium. "Stop using our kids for a hidden agenda."
Ms. Chatman's allegations drew a strong response from Council Member Bottoms.
"I have never needed some sinister agenda to achieve anything," Bottoms said. "I've been quite capable of doing that through hard work. And I certainly don't need some sinister agenda to achieve anything now.
"I think it is really unfortunate that you all have been misled," Bottoms sternly said. "There is no desire to close Sandtown Park. It will be part of the consideration, if this annexation goes through, as to whether or not we will purchase Sandtown Park. It will not be closed.
"You have been misled about the school issue. Please pray for those who are manipulating the facts. Please also pray for those who are playing on the emotions of this community by misleading them and lying to them," Bottoms told those in the City Council chamber.