Decatur annexation bill falls apart on next-to-last day

Decatur’s annexation bill fell apart late Wednesday afternoon, one day before the final legislative session, failing to get the required four signatures from state senators.

“I signed it,” said Sen Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, who sponsored the bill. “But that was it.”

The predominant hang-up is over the commercial revenue currently going to DeKalb County schools that, with annexation, would go into City Schools Decatur.

Parent said she was uncertain of that amount, estimating it’s in the $6 million to $7 million range. Decatur’s revised annexation map, which is 66 percent commercial and 28 percent residential (also six percent exempt) includes the key commercial areas of Patel Plaza and the Kroger shopping center on DeKalb Industrial Way.

But there’s also been vigorous opposition to Decatur annexation from the Clairmont Heights, Medlock and McLendon neighborhoods. Additionally the maps of Decatur and Together In Atlanta both include the four commercial centers at North Decatur Road and Clairemont Avenue.

“Other senators felt there was too much controversy with Decatur and too little time to work it out,” Parent said. “I’m not saying it’s impossible to get this done, but we’re going to wait and see how things develop over the next year.”

Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss expressed her disappointment.

“With the session ending tomorrow,” she said, “the city commission will have to reasses things and decide how they want to pursue this.”

Meantime Avondale did get the required signatures and its annexation bill gets voted on by all 56 senators Thursday. But there’s opposition on that bill over commercial dollars being diverted from DeKalb County.

Avondale Mayor Pro Tem Terry Giager said Wednesday he’s certain DeKalb Farmers Market president and founder Robert Blazer wants more time to mull over annexation.

“It’s got a chance,” Parent said. “I’m working to get it passed.”

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