Vehicles travel through the intersection of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive and Fulton Industrial Boulevard. Atlanta is trying to annex land on Fulton Industrial. Johnny Crawford / AJC FILE PHOTO

Atlanta again tries to annex land in unincorporated Fulton County

After its attempt to annex part of Fulton Industrial Boulevard was dismissed by the state supreme court, Atlanta is again trying to gain headway into an area state law says can be part of no city.

Atlanta owns just more than half an acre on Fulton Industrial Boulevard, and in 2015 filed suit asking for the right to bring the unincorporated property within the city limits.

The supreme court dismissed Atlanta’s request, saying that it had asked permission to annex, but had never approved the annexation — so there was no legal case to resolve.

So Atlanta is trying again.

The city sent a letter to Fulton County last month notifying the county of its plans to annex the land. County commissioners are due to discuss the annexation Wednesday. A spokesperson for the county could not be reached for comment.

An Atlanta spokesperson declined comment about the new attempt.

The Fulton Industrial area is the last remaining unincorporated piece of Fulton County, and both Atlanta and the new city of South Fulton would like the area within their boundaries.

Fulton Industrial is about 7.5 square miles of mostly industrial space that has a workforce of more than 20,000 people and about 46 million square feet of industrial space according to Rep. Roger Bruce, who was a driving force behind South Fulton.

Gil Prado, executive director of the Fulton Industrial Community Improvement District, said the area has a payroll of more than $1 billion and brings in about $18 million to $19 million in property taxes to Fulton County.

A 1979 law says that the district cannot be annexed into any city. But with the formation of South Fulton, it is the only part of the county that is not in a city.

State legislators earlier this year agreed to let voters decide whether to dissolve the provision that kept the district unincorporated, putting Fulton Industrial in South Fulton if voters agreed countywide.

Then, Gov. Nathan Deal stepped in. He vetoed the measure, putting the district back in flux.

In a statement, Deal said there “has been continued debate” between South Fulton and Atlanta over whose borders the district should be in. As such, he said, “the cities and property owners involved … need to first come to an agreement to determine the future” of the area.

City of South Fulton and Fulton County leaders have said they have not had discussions about the area’s future, and were waiting for a new Atlanta mayor to take office next year before broaching the subject.

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has been outspoken about his interest in the area. He has sent letters to some promoting Atlanta’s “open-door policy of welcoming property owners and residents who are interested in annexing into Atlanta city limits.”

Atlanta also plans to annex Emory University, and other nearby institutions in DeKalb County.

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