Emory University has filed a petition to annex its campus into the city of Atlanta.
The possibility was first raised nearly a year ago. In a news release, the University said it filed its petition on June 27. The annexation area would include Emory’s healthcare facilities on the Druid Hills campus. The university would remain in DeKalb County, but would be under the city of Atlanta’s jurisdiction.
“We are enriched by our relationships with the county and the city as well as the larger region and the state and look forward to building upon our commitment to community involvement, academic excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship,” Emory President Claire Sterk said in a press release.
In September, Michael Mandl – a former Emory executive vice president who was heading up the annexation efforts – said that Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were also interested in joining the city. CHOA and the CDC are also filing petitions.
“Mayor Reed welcomes all communities who choose to join the City of Atlanta,” the spokesperson said. “The annexation of Emory University, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention presents the rare opportunity to bring a world-class teaching and research institution, and two of the leading national public health institutions of the United States, along with thriving commercial businesses into the city of Atlanta. We have a strong working relationship with DeKalb County to jointly serve the thousands of residents currently located within DeKalb. We look forward to working through this annexation process with the petitioners and the County.”
In a statement, the CDC said, “CDC filed the petition after careful consideration. Annexation by the City of Atlanta allows CDC to continue working with DeKalb County’s critical response capability while linking to Atlanta’s infrastructure and municipal services.”
The university said it expects annexation to go into effect in the fall.
DeKalb County leaders had expressed concerns that Emory’s annexation might drive neighborhoods surrounding the university to file their own annexation petitions. Emory has said its primary interest is having an Atlanta address. Another goal is being a part of the Clifton Corridor light rail project. In November, Atlanta voters overwhelmingly approved a sales tax to expand MARTA.
County Commissioner Nancy Jester said the petition should be a “wake up call” for county leaders. She compared the annexation petition to the push by unincorporated communities in DeKalb County to create new cities.
“You know much like the cityhood movement, had DeKalb County paid more attention to its constituent parts, Emory being one of them – it’s a large institution, very well respected – if we had paid more attention and had been more engaged with them, these types of issues could’ve been avoided,” she said.
Commissioner Jeff Rader said the annexation will likely produce follow-on annexations of adjacent properties.
“Atlanta is less likely withhold rezoning,” Rader said. “A good example of that is the University Inn, which is on North Decatur Road and has been the subject of several proposals to put students there. If they were to see Emory annexed, why would they not try to annex to get the maximum density on the site?”
He also said Emory could propose new projects or new rezoning without the county’s “mediating influence,” and that could negatively affect surrounding neighborhoods.
“What we would like Atlanta to do is enter into intergovernmental agreements with DeKalb and agree they won’t do the follow-on annexation and consult with DeKalb when it came to substantial new zoning,” Rader said.
From Emory University:
Emory University filed a petition on Tuesday, June 27, to annex into the City of Atlanta. The university, including its health care facilities on the Druid Hills campus, will remain in DeKalb County, and upon approval of the petition, will also be part of the City of Atlanta.
Emory has built affiliations and community engagements that span DeKalb County and the City of Atlanta. For example, Emory’s operations include several hospitals and clinics in DeKalb County and one in the City of Atlanta––Emory University Hospital Midtown. In addition to Emory’s longstanding civic and community engagement in DeKalb County, the university’s strong partnerships with Georgia Institute of Technology, Georgia State University, the Morehouse School of Medicine and Grady Memorial Hospital, as well as its investment in arts, culture and scholarship in Atlanta, continue to grow.
According to Emory President Claire E. Sterk, annexation into Atlanta will complement the university’s commitment to local, and thereby global, engagement, while continuing to contribute to both jurisdictions.
“We are enriched by our relationships with the county and the city as well as the larger region and the state and look forward to building upon our commitment to community involvement, academic excellence, innovation and entrepreneurship,” says Sterk.
Next steps in the process include the city’s regular public meeting process for annexations. It is expected that the annexation will be effective in the fall of this year.
Emory provided this map of the annexation area:
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.