DeKalb demands compromise before Emory can join Atlanta

DeKalb County CEO Mike Thurmond and the DeKalb Commission want to slam the brakes on Emory University’s annexation into the city of Atlanta.

County commissioners voted 5-0 to approve a resolution Tuesday that could delay the annexation, which is scheduled for a vote by the Atlanta City Council on Sept. 5. The resolution invokes a state law that requires arbitration when a county government objects to an annexation.

The county government detailed numerous objections in an 11-page letter to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and the Atlanta City Council:

Emory’s incorporation would lead to more traffic, higher density, further development, increased risk for sewage spills and a potential impact on public schools, the letter says.

“The objections submitted by the county should not be seen as opposition to the proposed Emory annexation,” Thurmond said in a statement. “... Our objections are designed to ensure that all the issues associated with the proposed annexation are thoroughly vetted and that citizens have the ability to be informed regarding potential impact on their neighborhoods, communities and the county as a whole.”

Emory, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Children’s Healthcare petitioned to become part of the city of Atlanta in June.  If approved, the city would add 744 acres to its borders.

The city of Atlanta will address “any meaningful concerns” from the county, said Melissa Mullinax, a senior adviser to Reed.

“We are confident that the city can serve the needs of the institutions that have requested annexation, and we look forward to continuing the public discussion with members of the impacted communities and the Atlanta City Council,” Mullinax said in a statement.

The letter to Atlanta, signed by County Attorney O.V. Brantley, asks for the appointment of an arbitration panel to negotiate the impacts of the annexation.

Under state law, an arbitration panel would include representatives from municipalities, counties and universities.

Exclusive to subscribers: Read more about the hurdles to Emory University’s annexation into Atlanta on

City hall officials say Emory's annexation will be the biggest since Buckhead was swallowed up by the city.


The AJC's Mark Niesse keeps you updated on the latest happenings in DeKalb County government and politics. You'll find more on, including these stories:

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