This story has been updated.
Atlanta Loop has confirmed that Emory University is officially pursuing annexation into the city of Atlanta.
“We’re looking at annexation,” a spokesperson for the University said. The spokesperson also confirmed that the university is pursuing annexation via the petition method, which means it will not require an act of the Legislature or approval by voters in a referendum.
In an official statement released on Aug. 19, the university said, “Emory University, like neighboring communities, has been considering and evaluating annexation options for several years. Currently, Emory is beginning the process to annex its campus into the City of Atlanta.”
The university said its annexation plans won’t affect schools in the DeKalb County School district, something that was a possibility with prior plans pursued by residents of the neighborhoods around Emory. The previous Atlanta annexation proposal, proposed by Together in Atlanta, suggested annexing Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary Schools, as well as Druid Hills High, into the city.
“Annexation of Emory into the City of Atlanta will not affect school districts, since neighboring communities like Druid Hills will still be self-determining regarding annexation,” the university said.
Emory says it plans to join Atlanta fit with how the university has always marketed itself.
“Emory’s annexation into the city of Atlanta has always been viewed as one of the most viable, long-term options and one that provides consistency and alignment relative to the University’s marketing and branding initiatives,” the university said. “Emory already promotes its location as Atlanta, is known internationally as being located in Atlanta, routinely recruits faculty and students to Atlanta, and has an Atlanta address and zip code.”
The statement adds, “The prestige of Emory as an international university and Atlanta as a global city are inextricably linked.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Kasim Reed said the door is open for any community that wants to join Atlanta. The spokesperson’s statement, which was emailed to Atlanta Loop, suggests the annexation effort will be larger than the university itself, and might include the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Mayor Reed welcomes all communities who choose annexation into the City of Atlanta,” the spokesperson said. “If successful, the annexation of this vital corridor would present the rare opportunity to bring a world-class teaching and research institution, strong neighborhoods, hundreds of thriving commercial and industrial businesses and the leading national public health institute of the United States into the city of Atlanta.”
When Atlanta Loop asked for a clarification about the scope of the potential annexation being considered, the spokesperson said, “We’re not going to say anything beyond what’s in the statement.”
DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader distributed a letter regarding a meeting about the topic set for Monday, Aug. 22. Rader’s letter references another possible motive for Emory’s annexation push.
His letter says, in part, “There are indications (such as Atlanta’s inclusion of an Atlanta portion of Clifton Corridor Light Rail in the MARTA half penny referendum this November) that Emory might see annexation as advantageous.”
Here is the full letter:
Commissioner Rader would like to convene the leadership of unincorporated neighborhoods surrounding Emory University. While there is no privileged information to share, his interest is in education and feedback on the potential for Emory University to petition for the unilateral annexation of their DeKalb County properties into the City of Atlanta. They are entitled to do so under the “60% or 100% method” (with petitions bearing the signature of annexing properties) under existing state law, and there are indications (such as Atlanta’s inclusion of an Atlanta portion of Clifton Corridor Light Rail in the MARTA half penny referendum this November) that Emory might see annexation as advantageous.
Properties and neighborhoods adjacent to Emory would be eligible to join such a petition, but Emory could also move unilaterally, and neighborhoods need to contemplate that contingency.
The following neighborhoods are within this sphere of influence:
Victoria Estates Civic Association
Druid Hills Civic Assn.
Emory Parc Manor
Mason Mill Civic Assn.
North Druid Hills Residents Assn.
As a leader of your neighborhood civic association, please join Commissioner Rader for a meeting on Monday, August 22 (this coming Monday!) at 6:30pm at Central DeKalb Senior Center, 1346 McConnell Drive, Decatur, GA 30033.
Please plan to attend this meeting, and if you are unable to be present, please ask someone on your association board to attend in your place.