11/19/14 Together in Atlanta Meeting Summary

from CHCA Corresponding Secretary Julia Byrne:

11/19/14 Together in Atlanta Meeting Summary

On Wednesday, November 19th, community members in Clairmont Heights met with members of the Druid Hills Civic Association, members of the organization Together In Atlanta, and Atlanta elected officials to discuss advocacy efforts for the annexation of the entire footprints of Fernbank and Briar Vista elementary schools as well as Emory University into the city of Atlanta. The Clairmont Heights Civic Association is closely following this advocacy effort in response to our recent neighborhood survey that indicated strong support for inclusion into an existing city.

Please plan to attend the next community-wide CHCA meeting Monday, December 15th at 7 p.m. at the North Decatur Presbyterian Church in the Fellowship Hall to discuss the latest developments.

Meeting purpose

·         Introduction of different attendee groups, including people from the Together in Atlanta (TIA) steering committee, Druid Hills Civic Association, CH community members John McQuiston, Gerard Borda and Valerie Singer, as well as Atlanta City Council Representative Alex Wan and APS BOE Representative Matt Westmoreland.

·         Establish advocacy for annexation into the City of Atlanta

·         Begin capturing and assembling community questions and outline process to communicate back to the community.

Topics Covered

·         DHCA Survey Results:

o   24% (882 of 3800 homes) response rate.

o   Of those who responded, 62% indicated they did NOT want to be a part of a new city.

o   52% strongly agreed/agreed that they wanted CoA. 

o   46% strongly agreed/agreed that they wanted to remain unincorporated DeKalb. 

·         DHCA advocacy efforts are shifting to a model more like Clairmont Heights; that is, advocacy efforts for CoA annexation by Druid Hills community members will work through TIA rather than directly through the civic association.

·         TIA purpose

o   Focus on information about and advocacy for the passage of a CoA annexation referendum.

o   If a CoA referendum bill passes the GA Assembly (March 2015), voters in the annexation area will be able to vote for/against annexation in an open election (likely Nov 2015).

·         Discussion of Disputed Boundaries on published new city maps (LaVista Hills) and annexation maps (Decatur)

o   TIA is supportive of keeping the Clairmont/North Decatur commercial areas intact.

o   TIA is in active discussions with Brad Bryant from LaVista Hills to resolve overlaps with the Briar Vista school attendance zone.  

·         Annexation Impact, discussion with Alex Wan and Matt Westmoreland

o   CoA has begun planning for impact of annexation for services they would provide.

o   Water/Sewer and Library would remain with DeKalb (no change).

o   Public Safety (Police and Fire) and Sanitation would move to Atlanta.

o   Alex explained that if the referendum passes (March 2015) CoA is obligated by law to provide an outline of services prior to the vote for passage (Nov 2015).

·         School Impact, discussion with Alex Wan and Matt Westmoreland

o   Less conclusive, will depend on how willing/open/cooperative DCSS is during the process.

o   APS would work with DCSS on a plan to redistrict students and transition assets to APS.  

o   APS administration is aware of the annexation possibility and is already starting to gather the information necessary to begin the process of creating this plan. 

o   The effort will ramp up at each milestone (i.e. referendum passage) so that information regarding schools can be outlined prior to the vote as best as possible.

·         Meeting Conclusion, Final Points

o   TIA is the lead entity for CoA annexation process.

o   TIA is point for gathering questions and contacting appropriate parties for answers and information.

o   Mayor Reed not only supports the TIA annexation effort, his office has committed to championing the legislative process.