Georgia Unfiltered

Search This Site

06 May 2015

Fulton County Takes No Action on Controversial Atlanta Annexation, But It Still Moves Forward

Following a lengthy period of public comment which featured both kids and parents pleading with Fulton County not to approve Atlanta's proposed annexation of more than 977 acres in unincorporated south Fulton County, the Board of Commissioners did just that.

They did not approve the annexation request. The seven-member board took no action instead. But due to a quirk in state law, the annexation continues moving forward because taking no action had the same effect as approving the annexation request.

Most commissioners were not happy with the law, and called on state lawmakers to make changes to the rules so that counties can have a larger role in future annexation requests.

State Representatives Ladawn Jones and Roger Bruce, who have both been advocating for Sandtown and other communities to be included in a new city called South Fulton, told county commissioners that the annexation petitions were both illegal and invalid.

Citizens can join a nearby city if they sign a request asking the municipality to annex them. According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), 60% of private property owners and 60% of registered voters must agree in order for the annexation to move forward.

"A demographer reviewed the annexation petitions and found that it fell short of the 60% threshold," Rep. Bruce told Commissioners. "40.9% for Sandtown, 50.9% for Loch Lomond, and 56% for South Oaks."

Rep. Jones told Commissioners that it was incumbent upon the county to confirm whether the signatures were valid.

Jones' comments drew a strong rebuke from Commissioner Marvin Arrington, who accused the state lawmaker of wrongly quoting the law.

"Someone doesn't know how to read a law," Arrington said before asking County Attorney David Ware who was responsible ensuring annexation petitions comply with state statutes.

"The duty falls upon the City of Atlanta," Ware replied. "Atlanta has a legal obligation to verify signatures. Fulton County does not have a role."

Georgia law reads, "Whenever the governing body of a municipal corporation receives an application pursuant to Code Section 36-36-32, it shall, after investigation, determine whether such application complies with the requirements of this article. If it is determined that the application does not comply with this article, the governing body shall notify in writing the persons presenting the application, stating wherein the application is deficient."

Before Atlanta's proposed annexation becomes final, the city must hold a public hearing on the issue and the city council must vote to formally annex the land.

The City of Atlanta has not yet scheduled public hearings on the 977+ acre annexation.