Avondale Estates, Decatur annexation proposals inching forward

DeKalb County’s legislative delegation conducted a two-hour meeting Monday on annexation in general and in particular on the proposal for the two cities to meet at Sams Crossing.

It was announced at the end of the session that the sponsor of the two bills -- one for Avondale Estates, one for Decatur -- can begin lobbying fellow lawmakers to sign off on the plan. The delegation's rules require signatures from at least 10 of its 21 members to move a bill forward for a General Assembly vote. State Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield said she already has six signatures for the bills.

“Getting to 10 is not easy, but my goal is to go ahead and keep moving on it,” said Benfield, who got as many as seven signatures in her last three attempts on the annexation.

Several dozen residents of Avondale Estates showed up at Monday's meeting to signal their support of the move.

But with Avondale Estates eyeing 23 properties along College Avenue, and only two business owners in support, there will be plenty of phone calls and e-mails lobbying against the annexation.

“It’s not right,” said Joe Gargiulo, who likened the proposal to stealing candy instead of waiting to be offered or asking for some. “You don’t just go take something from somebody.”

County commissioners and CEO Burrell Ellis also appeared before the delegation to oppose the proposal and call for cooperation between the cities and county.

But Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd -- whose city stands to add 10 properties -- said the cities were tired of previous delays and wanted more control over what went on in those lots.

Lawmakers must decide whether to grant the cities the power to annex the land, even over property owner objections. Unlike with annexations of residential areas, the law does not require a public referendum before the cities can expand their borders if the Legislature approves the annexation.

Howard Mosby, the state representative who is chairman of the DeKalb delegation, said Benfield must secure 10 signatures before the bills would move forward for ratification.

"It is still in process," Mosby said. "It is not a done deal."

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