WEST ATLANTA, GA.-Fulton Industrial is quiet lately with the redevelopment and cleanup efforts by the Boulevard Community Improvement District. However, a political fight is quietly brewing along the corridor.
The corridor, once unwanted by businesses and governments is the highly desired choice for annexation. The cities of Atlanta and South Fulton both say they want it. A proposed referendum presented by Rep. Roger Bruce (D-South Fulton) passed the General Assembly but was vetoed by Gov. Nathan Deal.
“There has been continued debate between the City of Atlanta and the City of South Fulton as to which city this district should belong, the cities, and property owners involved though, need first to agree to determine the future of Fulton Industrial,” Deal said previously.
Rep. Debra Bazemore (D-South Fulton), chairwoman of the South Fulton Delegation states she will introduce legislation again seeking to bring the district into the city. She also reminded the public that South Fulton is viable with or without Fulton Industrial.
“If acquired, Fulton Industrial brings an additional $1.4 million in revenue for the city,” she said previously.
In 2015, Atlanta attempted to annex donated property at 711 Fulton Industrial Boulevard, a former SunTrust Bank branch. The city sued, and initially, Fulton County Superior Court ruled that the restriction was unconstitutional. Fulton County appealed and won in the Georgia Supreme Court that indicated since Atlanta did not annex the property through council action, it deemed it was not injured and therefore had no standing. The court also accused Atlanta of treating the court system as counsel instead of coming with an alleged injury.
Atlanta moved forward with renovations of the property with plans to house operations of the Atlanta Police Department on site.
Fast forward to earlier this month, Atlanta filed an annexation petition to obtain their property.
Atlanta proposes keeping the heavy industrial zoning, and land use designation of industrial is consistent with current county zoning and land use. Based on the annexation code, the county found no basis on annexation law to object. However, the area is within the Fulton County Industrial District which is protected from annexation from any city.
Deputy County Attorney Jerolyn Ferrari reminded the Board of Commissioners that no annexations could take place on the corridor.
“The 1979 local constitutional amendment does insulate the area from annexation. While there are no ordinary land use objections, we do want to preserve the county’s right to contest the validity of the annexation,” she explained. “We have general annexation laws for entities to use but we have a local constitutional amendment enacted that was carried forward when the 1983 constitution was amended.”
Commissioners expressed concern over the proposed annexation petition and acknowledged they could end up in court over such.
“We discussed this item many times, and I recognize it’s a constitutional argument,” Interim Commission Chairman Bob Ellis said.
At press time, Atlanta’s next steps are unknown concerning moving forward. If the city wanted to move forward with annexation, it would have to be approved by various council committees and the full council with the mayor’s signature.
Ferrari anticipated litigation soon over this matter.
“There’s the potential for litigation either started by the county or another party. I believe that it’s anticipated,” she concluded.