Atlanta seeks an “Intergovernmental Agreement” to continue DeKalb’s provision of fire and emergency management protection for their new Clifton Corridor annex, but has deemed DeKalb’s request for similar agreements to protect unincorporated neighbors from follow-on annexation or irresponsible growth on campus “unworkable”. If other recent annexations are a guide, adjacent parcels could lose historic district protection, and see disruptive redevelopment. If Atlanta’s leadership is unaccountable to DeKalb stakeholders, what incentive does that leave DeKalb to address their priorities?
Atlanta’s long game may be to stampede surrounding neighborhoods into also annexing in order to restore the community’s seat at the table for zoning and infrastructure. One of Atlanta’s talking points is that this would be the largest annexation since Buckhead in 1952. This time there’s no referendum, and a largely lame-duck City Council will make the decision, but the unincorporated public will live with the consequences.
The Big Picture shows that urban regions like metro Atlanta should collaborate, plan for growth and include all stakeholders in the process. That part of the Big Picture will be eclipsed if Atlanta approves annexation without protections for the people who live nearby. The City Council should amend the Clifton annexation ordinance to include a strategy for preserving the stability of the surrounding community.
Kathie Gannon and Jeff Rader are DeKalb County commissioners, representing Super District 6 and District 2, respectively.