Thursday, March 3, 2011

Annexation Proposal Could Expand Dunwoody Southward or start the City of Brookhaven

An expanded Dunwoody?

At Tuesday night's Transportation meeting, Peter Cox of the Dunwoody Patch pulled me aside informing me that Rep. Mike Jacobs was dropping a bill to propose annexation of the City of Dunwoody south of I285.   With the City of Chamblee annexing everything east of Chamblee Dunwoody Road to form a tight Chamblee / Doraville / Dunwoody line; I was aware that this was a possibility but was unsure if, or when it would be proposed.   A quick search of the Ga Legislature website shows that HB428 was dropped on March 1st by both Representatives Mike Jacobs and Tom Taylor and it appears to just be a place holder for next year in case the research shows that this move makes sense.  As I am quoted in the full article below, lots and lots research and financial analysis needs to be conducted before this is seriously considered by anybody.

Annexation Proposal Could Expand Dunwoody Southward

Rep. Mike Jacobs says he'd like to start a conversation about possibly annexing neighborhoods just south of 285 into Dunwoody, or allowing Brookhaven to become a city.

If the idea gets support, Dunwoody’s border could head southward.

Rep. Mike Jacobs said he may introduce a bill that could pave the way for Dunwoody to annex an area known as North Brookhaven, just south of 285.   Jacobs, who lives in that area, says he has been getting a stronger and stronger message from residents that they want more local control of their community.

“I think it is fair to say that there is a growing interest in some type of incorporation into a city in the neighborhoods south of 285, around Murphey Candler Park and even around Silver Lake,” he said. “Whether Dunwoody is a willing dance partner for annexation is an open question right now.”

If annexation is on the table, it would have to get backing from Dunwoody city officials and residents, as well as residents south of 285, he said.   “The reality is the area that would be annexed includes some important assets,” he said, listing Candler and its ballfields, the section of Perimeter Center south of 285 and Blackburn Park. “It’s an attractive area.”

Jacobs has discussed the possibility with Dunwoody city officials.  “There have been very preliminary discussions, with no specific plans on the table,” he said.

Though the idea has been brought up before, Dunwoody Councilmen Robert Wittenstein and John Heneghan said it was the first time they’d heard anything concrete about a possible annexation bid.  “I think that most of us would be very supportive of at least looking at the idea,” said Wittenstein said.  He said he’s not surprised that some residents of that area have been talking about annexation, as he thinks Dunwoody has done a good job of providing services at a low tax rate.  But, he said that taking on such facilities at Murphey Candler Park would bring on some financial questions for the city of Dunwoody, and such issues would have to be weighed in any decision.

Heneghan agreed.  “It’s something that needs to be studied and needs to be looked at,” he said.  He said that Murphey Candler is used by many Dunwoody residents already, and there are similarities between the communities.  He said there would be plenty of discussion ahead if the idea gets traction.  “That’s not a decision that’s going to happen overnight,” Heneghan said. “Do we the city want them to be part of Dunwoody and do they want to be part of us? It can’t be a one-sided decision. It’s got to be a win-win for everybody or it doesn’t work.”

The neighborhoods in question are the Murphey Candler Park and Silver Lake neighborhoods of unincorporated DeKalb County.  Annexing those neighborhoods into Dunwoody or allowing them to join other Brookhaven communities in an incorporation effort are two options Jacobs wants to put on the table.

“In terms of a new city altogether, the question there is whether there is interest as you get south of these neighborhoods,” he said.  The issue has been discussed before, but he said it seems to have picked up traction, especially with residents in the North Brookhaven area.  “Almost everyone is sounding favorable to it now,” he said. “It’s a remarkable change from just a couple of years ago.”

He’s hoping to start a public conversation about the area’s options within the next few months.  “I am committed to looking at the issue, particularly in light of how badly things are going in DeKalb County right now,” he said. “The county government is bloated in areas that are far flung from its core mission.”   He said that key services are being cut, while there are still many non-essential positions in the county government.  “That, in turn, changes basic things like response times, ability to maintain assets like Murphey Candler and Blackburn Park,” he said, “which is very likely to drive citizens into the arms of a city.”

Jacobs wouldn’t go into too much detail about the possible annexation legislation, but said it would create an avenue for annexation of that part of unincorporated DeKalb County into Dunwoody. He did say that because of Chamblee’s recent annexation, he doubts that city would be looking to make any new annexations in the next two to three years.  Jacobs said he is considering a broadly worded bill that would “take into account any kind of scenario that might come up.”  He said it would allow for citizens to easily move forward with annexation, if that is an option they support.

“There’s no scenario where an annexation would move forward without buy-in from the city that would be doing annexation and the citizens of the area that would be annexed,” he said.


John Heneghan said...

Dunwoody Reporter Article - North DeKalb lawmakers introduce annexation bill

Two north DeKalb lawmakers have authored a bill that would allow Dunwoody to annex areas within four miles from its city limits.

The bill is intended as a “placeholder,” and does not mean any specific annexation efforts now are under way, said Rep. Tom Taylor, one of the authors.

Taylor said the bill was written because his fellow legislator, Rep. Mike Jacobs, had been hearing from constituents in areas of unincorporated DeKalb County that they were unhappy with the county’s services. The two legislators represent areas of north DeKalb that include Dunwoody, the Murphey Candler area and Brookhaven.

“He wanted to a vehicle in place” if discussions reached the point that residents decided to seek annexation into the city of Dunwoody or Chamblee, Taylor said.

The proposed legislation says that any city incorporated on or after Dec. 1, 2008, would be authorized to annex any contiguous unincorporated areas up to four miles from the city’s limits. That could allow areas in the Murphey Candler and Ashford Park portions of DeKalb to seek annexation.

If passed, the law would require any such annexation be approved by the city’s government, discussed in a public hearing and approved by a vote of residents of the area.

Taylor said the idea of introducing the legislation was “just to have something on the shelf” that could be used if residents desire annexation.

“It’s like putting the batteries away before a hurricane,” he said.

Dunwoody Mom said...

So someone NOT from Dunwoody just decided it would be nice to annex other areas into Dunwoody? Did Mike Jacobs consult any Dunwoody officials before he took this move?

Anonymous said...

Save the time and dollars of research. Just say NO.