Voters approved a referendum to annex parts of unincorporated DeKalb into the City of Chamblee Nov. 2 – with better policing as a primary motivator.
Some 58 percent of the residents of the area north of Chamblee voted in favor of joining the city, while 42 percent voted against it. The annexation includes homes bordered by Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Chamblee Dunwoody Road and I-285.
The referendum was largely supported by a grass-roots group of residents tired, as they put it, of being ignored by DeKalb County.
On its Web site (www.chambleeannexation.org) the group of residents representing the neighborhoods in unincorporated DeKalb County, pointed particularly to a time when it took DeKalb County police more than 20 minutes to respond to a 911 gunshot call at 4 a.m. in the Huntley Hills subdivision.
“Chamblee police would have been there in less than four minutes. Some of the residential streets and apartments within the proposed area are full of crime, drugs and prostitution and have been completely ignored by DeKalb County,” as stated on the Web site.
As the new borders take effect Jan. 1, 2011, city police and emergency services are beefing up staff.
“It’s a short turn around. We’ve only got eight weeks, but we’re well on our way to filling the 12 police positions the council approved,” Chamblee Police Chief Marc Johnson said.
“Matter of a fact, two people started today. We’ve been planning for much of the year. We’ve already been recruiting. My goal is to just protect and serve all of the city’s residents – old and new,” he added.
With the influx of residents, the expansion of police services will include four more emergency dispatchers and four new patrol cars.
According to the Atlanta Regional Commission, Chamblee’s population of about 12,500 will grow to between 17,000 and 19,000 residents.
“There are no definite numbers. We’ll know for sure when the next census comes out in April 2011,” said Eric Clarkson, Chamblee mayor.
“We estimate there will be about 5,000 new residents.”
The annexed neighborhoods will increase Chamblee’s annual budget by about $1.7 million, to $17.4 million.
Clarkson said although Chamblee’s millage rate is higher than DeKalb County, new residents will receive a higher level of services.
“I believe that even though we pay a little more, we haven’t had to furlough or lay off anyone. When someone calls 911 in Chamblee, 90 percent of the time someone answers in 110 seconds or less,” Clarkson said.