A year after Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed a proposal that would have let Fulton County residents vote on whether to put the last unincorporated piece of the county into the new city of South Fulton, the legislature passed bills this week that would give the plan a second chance.
HB 869 calls for residents countywide to vote on the proposal that would dissolve the Fulton Industrial District, which by state law, cannot be annexed into any city. If it passes, HB 870 calls for the district to become part of South Fulton, beginning Jan. 1.
Rep. Roger Bruce, D-South Fulton, sponsored the legislation, both last year and this year. Bruce said following last year’s veto, he talked to the governor and his staff about the plan. Bruce said he was able to give Deal more information about the area, and the governor said he was satisfied with it.
“Hopefully, there won’t be any issues,” Bruce said.
Last year, in vetoing the measure, Deal said there “has been continued debate” between South Fulton and Atlanta over which city the district should be in. He wanted them to compromise, and said before he would sign any law calling for a referendum, “the cities and property owners involved … need to first come to an agreement to determine the future” of the area.
State law, since 1979, said the district could not be annexed. Atlanta representatives said previously that they would prefer to divide the district between themselves and South Fulton.
The city did not respond to additional requests for comment by deadline Thursday.
Bruce said Atlanta “has no claim” to the 7.5-square-mile stretch of land that is home to a number of businesses, and brings in an estimated $5 million to $6 million in annual tax revenue to the county. For years, South Fulton and the industrial district paid into the same special fund that covered the expenses of providing services in those areas.
“It’s an important area to be part of the city,” Bruce said. “They have an established relationship with the city. They just feel more comfortable.”
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