DeKalb County, GA, January 29, 2015 – by Trey Benton – One after another, business owners who were annexed legislatively into the City of Doraville spoke to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners (BOC) Tuesday urging them to support their desire to de-annex back into unincorporated DeKalb County.
In a 4-1 vote, the BOC voted to approve the de-annexation of properties recently annexed by the Georgia State Legislature. House Bill 1138 allowed certain properties in unincorporated DeKalb County to be annexed into the City of Doraville, effective Dec. 31, 2014.
Around 44 affected business and property owners signed de-annexation consent forms to request to re-join unincorporated DeKalb.
Delivering a singular message speakers stressed, “We did not ask to be annexed into the City of Doraville, we do not want to be annexed into the City of Doraville and we want out of the City of Doraville.”
They said the annexation would have negative secondary effects on their ability to provide for themselves and their families because many of the businesses could not operate as they do in unincorporated DeKalb presently.
Most notably, business owners contend the City of Doraville will not grandfather or recognize the Late Night Establishment status they had in unincorporated DeKalb County. Business owners say they will need to stop service of alcohol at 2 a.m. and close their doors at 2:30 a.m. to comply with the City’s alcoholic beverage ordinance.
Attorney Linda Dunlavy, who represents several of the businesses said, “They are getting nothing. Doraville is getting all the tax revenues, and these citizens are paying their taxes to Doraville for no increase in services.” Dunlavy added, “DeKalb County is being left to serve the residential area immediately behind these commercial properties with less revenues than they had before because the cities are snatching up commercial and industrial tax bases.”
Attorney Edward Gilgor, who represents another group of businesses said, “They were annexed in what was either one of the most cynical political moves I have ever seen or the most incompetent political moves I have ever seen. But the end result was the same; that was that these people had no idea that this was under consideration…I have never seen anything quite like this before. This is a case study of why you should not have a city below a certain size.”
The BOC has directed Staff to transmit their resolution to the Mayor and City Council of Doraville, urging they consider approving a similar one. The Georgia Code requires County approval as a pre-condition to the voluntary de-annexation of land by a municipal governing authority.
In addition to seeking a resolution from Doraville, business owners plan to lobby the General Assembly and ask them to undo the annexation. Dunlavy stressed State legislators need to examine the annexation laws in Georgia closely and seek change. “It is a bad state of affairs when business owners who have invested millions in their businesses can be annexed into a City by the General Assembly without getting a vote, without receiving direct notice, and without having a voice just because a local politician requests that the Legislature do it. Residential property owners have a voice, so should business owners.”