Decatur City Commission Approves Annexation Recommendation

Last night the Decatur City Commission voted in favor of annexing the two commercial heavy parcels at the northern edge of the city limits.  However, it’s clear that City Commissioners have their doubts the annexation will ever make it through the assembly.  Commissioner Jim Baskett went as far as to call the move “an exercise in futility” at one point.  Well known business owners in the annexation areas from Eagle Eye Books and Decatur Package Store spoke out against the attempt.

Next up, the city will ask the DeKalb delegation to pass a bill in the upcoming January General Assembly to authorizing the move.  As reported earlier, the city attorney does not believe that a referendum of property owners in that area would be necessary, since both parcels are +50% commercial.

The final vote was 4-1 on the Suburban Plaza annexation, with Commissioner Boykin voted “no”, and 4-0 on the Emory Commons vote with Boykin recusing himself since he owns a business in that zone.

Check out Patch for a solid, detailed report from last night.

34 thoughts on “Decatur City Commission Approves Annexation Recommendation”

  1. Could someone explain the annexation process going forward? The DeKalb Delegation and the General Assembly are mentioned. What needs to happen at each of these points and what is the time frame?


      1. Of course, these are also the folks who lobby against keeping chickens so there’s that feather on their cap (to clarify: they lobbied against the GA Right to Grow Act in 2012 and likely will do so again this year). Me no likey them.

  2. It is not without irony that a bunch of folks that like to talk about regional and inter-governmental cooperation essentially gave the middle finger to a neighboring jurisdiction.

    1. That neighboring jurisdiction presented it’s middle finger to Decatur for a long time, most recently over the HOST proceeds and other subjects before that.

      1. I don’t disagree with you on that. My point is that we all new the powers that be in Dekalb County are self-serving, short-sighted and not very good public servants. I think many people are surprised to see the powers that be in Decatur behaving analogously.

  3. I find it strange that so many followers of this blog have spoken out vehemently against Decatur annexing these commercial-heavy properties. Decatur has lost its soul? Decatur is driven by greed? Decatur doesn’t care about small businesses? Really?? I have to wonder if these folks understand this city at all. Decatur is just following the same path it’s been on for the past 20+ years. It’s been on a mission to become a socially progressive, well-designed, community-oriented, and pedestrain-friendly city. Annexing these properties allows the city to continue this process through taking control of the design of commercial areas that are already fundamentally linked to the city.

    Many of the same posters who have been complaining have also spoken about their love of what the City of Decatur has become, especially the downtown business district and Oakhurst village areas. The City of Decatur didn’t become the fantastic, walkable, livable place it is today because of a hands-off government. It became what it is because local government got actively involved in shaping, designing, envisioning and regulating the property it had a say over. Because of the city’s engagement in this process, the city’s population changed dramatically, the school population changed dramatically, and the business community changed dramatically. But I don’t hear anyone complaining about Decatur today, and I absolutely expect, and hope, that the city takes an active role in improving these commercial areas. The intersection of Clairmont and North Decatur is a pedestrian nightmare. The design of that area is a suburban, car-oriented dreamland, and I hope that the city takes an active role in creating a more walkable, urban, environment. That means the businesses there today won’t likely be in 30 years. I am okay with this.

    Most people don’t move to this areas because they want to be close to Suburban Plaza. They move here because they want to be close to Downtown Decatur. In 20 years, if the city gains control over these commercial areas, people will be moving here to be close to them as well.

    1. + roughly one billion.

      The true measure of leadership is not what you do to solve today’s problems. It’s what you do to solve — or lay the groundwork for solving — tomorrow’s problems. That’s not to say that there aren’t cogent arguments on the part of those who oppose the annexation. Clearly there are, and I appreciate them. But as a Decatur resident, I elected my representatives to further a particular vision and act in the long-term interests of those who seek to put down roots here and, messiness readily acknowledged, I think this does that.

    2. “The city’s population changed dramatically, The schools’ population changed drastically.”

      Sounds racist and elitist. So, Decatur has lost its heart. That is my last post on this topic.

      1. Depends on the color of your glasses. For those who moved to Decatur in the mid 90s or earlier, Oakhurst Elementary was an all black school. That’s not in any way saying that schools full of black students are inherently bad. Absolutely not. It’s saying that, in a town with an articulated commitment towards diversity, ANY monoculture is bad. It’s just “separate but equal” by another name.

        Despite the readily acknowledged challenges of trying to improve a city’s economic prospects while retaining its most vulnerable citizens — and the ongoing stumbles associated with doing so — Decatur’s African American population, as a percentage of residents overall, is still considerably higher than that same percentage nationally. Is that to suggest that we’ve somehow solved the challenges of race and diversity? Absolutely not. Only that flat out suggestions of racism and elitism, directed city-wide, are unfair and carry with them the suggestion that Decatur is introducing some sort of impurity into an otherwise pristine DeKalb County. Yet any examination of the dynamics of north DeKalb vs. south DeKalb clearly suggests otherwise.

        We’re all grappling, and stumbling, with the same challenges. No one holds the high ground just yet.

    3. That means the businesses there today won’t likely be in 30 years. I am okay with this.


      And here you have the essence of our current authoritarianism — er, I mean progressivisim. We want things the way we want them, and if we have to destroy you to get things that way, well, we’re ok with that. But it’s all good, local businesses. In the 30 or so years Decatur will allow you to persist in your current form (maybe fewer, no guarantees), it will be happy to raise your taxes for the privilege.

      1. I guess…actually, I don’t really understand what you’re saying. Communities change DEM. That’s what they do, for hundreds of reasons. Sometimes it’s government initiated, like the Atlanta Housing Authority’s demolition of housing projects, and sometimes it’s market initiated by private developers. The only constant for communities in metro Atlanta is that they are inevitably going to change. 10 years ago Rockdale County was a majority white community. 60 years ago what is now the City of Brookhaven voted to de-incorporate and merge with Dekalb County. 20 years ago there was no baseball stadium in the Pittsburgh neighborhood of Atlanta and Centennial Park didn’t exist.

        People pass on, children move away, businesses close, buildings catch fire. Pick your reason, neighborhoods change.

        1. I was making an obtuse point (poorly), granted, but frankly we’re way off topic. Making the Clifton/N Druid intersection “walkable” wasn’t the stated rationale for this land grab and everyone knows that it’s not the reason. There was some lip service paid to controlling the gateways to the city, but the fact that the annexed plots were gerrymandered to prevent a referendum — thereby leaving portions of the city’s gateways out of the annexation altogether — exposes that explanation as the expedient that it is.

          Not to mention that this annexation could never solve the “problem” of a car-centric gateway to Decatur, since the annexation simply pushes your gateway a few blocks to the west. No matter where your borders lie, you are going to have gateways you don’t control. And of course no one appointed Decatur as the county-wide change agent in charge of reforming strip malls it happens not to like. (Which is one reason the Gen Assembly is likely to squash this over-reach, as it should.) You all are entitled to make Decatur as you wish, but asserting control over outlying properties when the property owners don’t share your visions is aggressive and abusive.

          This isn’t about communities changing and how that should happen. This is about revenue, and annexing property against the clearly expressed will of the owners. I thank Deanne for posting the link below, because there you can watch Mayor Floyd responding to the annexed citizens’ objections and frankly offering a scattered and highly unpersuasive grab-bag of excuses for doing this. And unless I missed something, he says nothing about wanting to remake as much of DeKalb Co as possible in COD’s progressive vision, as opposed to expressing concern for raising more money for COD’s schools.

          1. DEM, I gotcha, and I understand where you’re coming from on the points you made. I think Mayor Floyd has his agenda, and I think that probably differs from others on the city council, and definitely from the point of view of the city’s staff and school system.

    4. Thanks, JC, for articulating what’s been rumbling around in my head for the past few days. Mayor Floyd and the city commissioners are doing the unpopular thing in order to continue Decatur’s strategy for achieving a more livable community. Decatur as we know it did not emerge overnight because of the great schools or for any other single reason. Decatur exists today because of bold and active leadership. Labeling it authoritarianism is just sour grapes, and that’s ok. I’ve reacted this way too when things don’t go my way. I guess that’s human nature.

      I wish the annexation plan could have moved forward with more citizen support, but the Mayor made a decision and he’s sticking to it. That’s called leadership and that’s exactly how Decatur has become the city we know and love. It will be interesting to see how this plan develops as it moves forward. Despite the plan’s soundness, it might die a quick death. We shall see.

  4. The AJC’s headlines this morning of Dekalb schools at risk for losing accreditation give another reason why leaving unincorporated Dekalb is good for residents.

  5. I really don’t understand what incentive Dekalb representatives or anyone in the legislature would have to move this further along. Can someone explain that?

  6. Note most of the posters who are being so negative don’t actually LIVE in Decatur. Just sayin’.

    1. Note that the people you are forcing into Decatur also didn’t locate their businesses in Decatur and don’t want to be in Decatur. Just sayin. And since this issue now heads to the General Assembly, I’d say it’s clear that it’s not an issue for COD residsents without the input of others, as much as they might like to force their will on non-residents.

      1. Plenty of actual Decatur residents are thrilled about the annexation push and what it might mean long-term but we are screeching about our town losing its soul.

  7. I don’t really understand what Commissioner Boykin meant when he voted no and said “It’s very close to me.”

    I understand that he abstained from the vote on the area where his business is located, but what did he mean by the “very close” remark on the other area? Close to what? And how/why did that impact his vote?

    I know he reads this, so I hope he will take the opportunity to explain.

    1. Maybe I’m interpreting this too simplistically, but I would assume he’s saying it’s close to him because he’s a business owner that doesn’t want to be forced into COD borders by annexation, and he’s sympathetic to their plight. It would be interesting to hear from him, but we’ve heard from other area business owners, and I doubt they would disagree much on this issue. If there actually were a business begging to be annexed, we’d have heard about it by now.

    2. I commend Fred Boykin for not brushing aside his worries over how annexation would affect him and all business owners, and about how folks’ rights could get taken away in the pursuit of it. Fred puts a lot of thought into issues that come before the Commission, and I’ve long admired that whenever his gut says something doesn’t feel quite right or seems to be too rushed, he’ll do the uncomfortable thing and vote apart from the group.

      To hear what Fred said, click on section VI-A of the archived video. Fred recuses himself early on from the A.3 parcel discussion, and returns for the B.3 discussion at the 24:20 mark. He shares his thoughts twice (again after Patti Garrett speaks), so stay with it until the end.

      The entire discussion merits a listen by everyone (as do the public comments—section V). It’s important to pay attention to not only what gets done in our City, but how it gets done. Usually our City Folks get it right. Unfortunately, this annexation attempt has been fraught with missteps from the start. Because I believe in our City Folks, I’m holding on to hope that they’ll act to repair the damaged relationships with our nearby Dekalb neighbors and businesses that some of their actions have caused, and that they’ll choose on their own to let the voters in the affected areas have their rightful say.

      1. Deanne- the eternal optimist. I highly doubt it. What we are seeing is the phenomenon known as “I got mine, so…” 😉

  8. As a resident who lives behind Dekalb Christian Towers (in other words, next to the folks unlucky enough to live behind the new Wal-Mart), I hope you’ll appreciate a little perspective from someone in the footprint.

    I just spent 7 years helping revitalize New Orleans after Katrina – I am a community advocate and organizer who knows the entire New Orleans City Council personally. With that said, when I considered returning to Atlanta where I grew up, it was only if I could be near Decatur.

    My street, Medlock Road, is already plagued with the zooming cars that are cutting through from outlying neighborhoods to the commercial “hub”of the region – Decatur. I support this annexation because I hope Decatur will help with traffic calming devices and the like.

    However, more importantly for those of you not in the footprint, if you can accuse your city of putting income ahead of local business interests in this annexation, you are deluding yourself. A Wal-Mart will impact your local businesses – whether or not it is part of your footprint or lies just outside it.

    The only hope I see of controlling the ravages of Wal-Mart and other national chains that might want to “revitalize’ Suburban Plaza is to have the City of Decatur at the table.

    I read in the AJC that the Surburban Plaza parcel is considered the most attractive in the area – likely because of its proximity to Decatur. It IS part and parcel of you, whether you want to admit it or not. The CoD is wisely recognizing and addressing that fact rather than burying its head in the sand.

    Is there revenue associated with this “land grab”? Of course. The CoD has to defend its actions against irate citizens who complain that the annexed parcels will overburden the tax base. This one won’t.

    However, if you believe in the vision that brought Decatur to what it is today, then you must have some faith that the same vision hasn’t become blind to the potential damage an unchecked Wal-Mart could do to your lovely town.

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