In the Midway Woods neighborhood, west of Columbia Drive and on the outskirts of the city of Decatur, an annexation proposal at least four years in the making is pitting neighbor against neighbor.
At issue is a request by some residents of the neighborhood to be annexed into the four-square-mile city of Decatur.
Kevin Polite, a Midway Woods resident for eight years and chairman of the No 2 Decatur annexation opposition group, said the neighborhood “was a close-knit community before the thought of annexation appeared and it has now torn the community in half.
“Whether all of Midway Woods is annexed or not, there will need to be much healing of the community after the decision has been made,” Polite said.
Approximately 66 of the more than 750 homes in Midway Woods are being considered for annexation into Decatur.
“The Midway Woods Neighborhood Association wants to be in Decatur…[and] is petitioning for all of Midway Woods to be part of Decatur,” Polite said.
Polite said the anti-annexation group was formed because “we felt our voice wasn’t being heard.”
“We’re getting petitions against being annexed,” Polite said. “The majority of people that have signed the [anti-annexation] petition are elderly or they don’t have kids—approximately 65 percent.”
The largest opposition is because of the increase in taxes, Polite said.
According to Decatur’s website, an estimated typical 2012 total tax bill for a home in the city valued at $250,000 is $4,844, while in unincorporated DeKalb County the bill would be $3,514.
Midway Woods is one of six major areas that Decatur officials are studying the feasibility of annexing. In addition to Midway Woods, the areas include: Clairmont and North Decatur Road; the Suburban Plaza area; the Sycamore Hill area; the Derrydown subdivision; and the United Methodist Children’s Home.
“If you included it all,…it’s a modest area,” said Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd said.
City officials say the considered areas have an estimated 4,000 residents, 800 properties and would add approximately 300 acres to the city.
Andrea Arnold, Decatur’s assistant city manager, said officials are “still working on our revenue and expenditure estimates” but the “rough, back-of-the-napkin estimate” is $1 million in revenue for first year.
Floyd said the city’s school system would take in an estimated $2 million.
He said the annexations are being considered because the city has had “a lot of [annexation] requests from a lot of people around Decatur.”
“I feel responsible to at least take a look at it,” Floyd said. “It makes sense to look at the areas and see who can better serve these areas.
“With all the municipalizations, there’s been a lot of concern…about what’s going to happen,” Floyd said.
Floyd said city officials “decided to do a comprehensive look at whether we want to annex.”
“If you’re interested, let us know. If you’re not let us know that too,” Floyd said. “If we don’t see substantial support from the people,” the city won’t annex.
Floyd said city officials will also have to consider a pending impact statement from the City of Decatur School System.
“Anytime we annex, it impacts schools. We have to be careful as to what we want to do. No other city in DeKalb has to worry about that.”
The possible annexations would probably be the last annexations Decatur does, Floyd said.
“We’re not looking to get much bigger,” Floyd said. “We don’t want to be a massive city. We’ve got a culture we’re trying to hold onto.
“I can’t imagine anybody annexing any more than that. It would change the school system dramatically. It would change the city dramatically,” Floyd said.
Floyd said the benefit of annexation to residents in the areas is “access to what we consider a higher level of service” for police and schools.
“We’re trying to figure out if there are any benefits to the city,” Floyd said. “There may not be any benefits to the city. That’s what this whole process is all about.”
The Decatur City Commission will hold a public meeting on annexation from 6-8 p.m., Oct. 22, in the commission meeting room at the Decatur City Hall, 509 North McDonough Street.
On Dec. 17, city officials plan to make a recommendation to the city commission on whether or not to adopt an annexation resolution, Arnold said. If an annexation resolution is passed, it would go to the Georgia General Assembly, which would vote to authorize any necessary referendum on the matter.