An objection filed by DeKalb County is likely to delay a vote on a petition to annex Emory University and surrounding properties into the city of Atlanta, meaning the annexation won’t occur before the November elections.
Melissa Mullinax, senior adviser to Mayor Kasim Reed, told Atlanta Loop that the county’s request to have the Department of Community Affairs arbitrate the issue will push back the city council’s decision. Council members were expected to vote on Sept. 5.
“On our original schedule likely changed because of the arbitration,” she said.
The 744 acre annexation proposal also includes petitions from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Georgia Power, Villa International, Synod of South Atlantic & Presbyterian Church (USA) Inc. and the Centers for Disease Control. The county filed its formal objection to the petition earlier this month, citing a state law that allows counties to object to annexations under certain circumstances.
Emory’s pursuit of annexation is widely viewed as an effort to move forward with the Clifton Corridor Light Rail Project that would link MARTA’s Lindbergh and Avondale Stations and would service the Emory area. In November, Atlanta voters overwhelmingly approved a sales tax to expand MARTA.
Mullinax said DCA has 15 days to appoint an arbitration panel. There will be 60 days of hearings after that before a final decision is reached.
“At the very latest the panel will have a decision by Oct. 22, so we couldn’t take a final annexation vote until after the arbitration is finished,” Mullinax said.
DeKalb County is asking DCA to reconcile the differences between city of Atlanta zoning and DeKalb County zoning. During its Aug. 10 meeting, the Atlanta Zoning Review Board voted to approve three ordinances related to the annexation, determining the zoning would be approximately the same in Atlanta as it is in DeKalb County.
“While we don’t’ have exactly the same zoning categories, they’re materially no different,” Mullinax said. “Every condition that DeKalb County has placed the city has pulled into ours. There’s nothing about zoning or land use that changes.”
After the Aug. 10 meeting, Rader said said he hoped the city would delay the Sept. 5 vote.
“We believe we’re entitled to that arbitration and any decision that the City Council makes will be conditioned upon the results of that arbitration,” Rader said.