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01 September 2015

Judge Rules Atlanta Can Annex Portions of Fulton County Industrial District

In a ruling handed down 31 August 2015, Superior Court Judge Gail Tusan ruled the City of Atlanta can annex portions of the Fulton County Industrial District.

Before Judge Tusan's ruling, Atlanta and other municipalities were prohibited from bringing any part of the Fulton Industrial District into their respective cities due to a 1979 constitutional amendment.

Judge Tusan overturned that constitutional amendment after hearing arguments from both the City of Atlanta and Fulton County.

This judicial ruling could have wide ranging effects on the proposed city of South Fulton, which supporters hoped would include the Fulton County Industrial District.

Fulton County Commissioner Marvin Arrington, who represents parts of unincorporated south Fulton County, said, "If this ruling is upheld by the courts, it could have an adverse impact on viability of a new city in south fulton.

"Unless of course the legislature confirms the 1979 Act in a non-defective manner. It seems the legislature attempted to confirm the 1978 law but did not do so properly," Arrington continued.

Barring action from the Georgia General Assembly, which does not meet again until January, property owners within the Fulton County Industrial District can now submit annexation petitions to Atlanta, and regular law would take precedence.

After receiving the petition from a property owner, Atlanta would send notice to Fulton County. Fulton County would then have thirty days to file an objection to the annexation.

According to the Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O.C.G.A.), Fulton County can only object to annexation requests because of a material increase in burden upon the county directly related to any one or more of the following: (1) The proposed change in zoning or land use; (2) Proposed increase in density; and (3) Infrastructure demands related to the proposed change in zoning or land use.

If Fulton County objects, the annexation is not stopped, however. The proposed annexation would then go before a five-member arbitration panel to determine if Fulton County's objection is valid, and to mediate any differences between the county and Atlanta.

If Fulton County does not object, the annexation goes back to the Atlanta City Council for a final vote.

A copy of Judge Tusan's ruling can be found below:

City of Atlanta v. Fulton County