Residents in annexation tug of war between Atlanta, South Fulton


Without having to pack a single box, South Fulton residents like Robert Ammons have moved in and out of Atlanta this summer.

The resulting yo-yo — spurred by legal decisions — affects taxes and elections, what schools children go to, who picks up the trash and who responds when residents call 911.

In recent weeks, a Fulton County judge overturned Atlanta?셲 annexations of five South Fulton neighborhoods near Cascade Road.

Atlanta rushed to annex land in South Fulton over the summer, ahead of a November referendum to create the City of South Fulton from the remaining areas of unincorporated Fulton County. The annexations were approved by Atlanta?셲 city council, but some residents of the affected areas sued to void them. The court said annexations were not completed before the potential new boundaries of the City of South Fulton were formed. Additionally the court ruled that Atlanta did not leave enough time for required hearings and that the city did not properly verify all of the signatures of residents petitioning for annexation.

Atlanta had already started to provide city services to its new residents, but had to stop after a judge decided the annexations should not go through. Then, residents were pushed out of the city.

Now, while they are still waiting a final decision as to where they call home, residents in the annexed areas will get a chance to weigh in on a November referendum that would create the City of South Fulton ??even though they may end up being Atlanta residents.

The tug-of-war has an effect on the daily lives of residents.

Since Tabatha Bryant?셲 South Fulton home was annexed into the city in July, she said she?셲 had trouble getting the trash picked up.

Atlanta, which had started providing trash and police service July 1, is transitioning those responsibilities back to Fulton County.

Mayflor Mays, who was also annexed into Atlanta over the summer, said her oldest child was late to his first day of school because Fulton County had eliminated his pick up from the bus route.

She and others said the school systems agreed that students wouldn?셳 make the switch until next year.

And Ammons, who wants to be part of the City of South Fulton, said Atlanta taxes ?쏿re extremely too high.??/p>

Richard Barron, Fulton County?셲 director of elections and registration, said he has had to move residents in and out of Atlanta as annexations and lawsuits changed where people live.

?쏻hen you move people back and forth like that, you run the risk of an error,??he said.

In addition to the City of South Fulton vote, transportation taxes are on the line.

Residents will vote on a Fulton County sales tax of three-quarters of a penny to pay for transportation improvements. They will not cast their ballots on an Atlanta measure that would raise taxes to pay for MARTA, or for a separate Atlanta-specific tax for transportation.

Josh Belinfante, an attorney who represents those opposed to the annexations of the Cascade Business Corridor, Danforth Road, The Cottages at Cascade, Cascade Manor and Cascade Falls, said their time in Atlanta may just be ?쏿 blip.??Altogether, the annexations involve about 350 people and a business district.

But the blip has been frustrating for some.

Bryant, who has had problems getting her trash picked up, said she?셲 in favor of a City of South Fulton and thinks she should get a vote on what city she lives in. Schools have been another major issue.

In his ruling that put residents back in the unincorporated area, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Alford Dempsey said he took into account the uncertainty about whether schools in the annexed area would become a part of APS.

In his order, Dempsey said there were few issues more pressing.

Mays, whose mother filed suit, said she wanted her children to stay at their Fulton schools. So when she got a letter days before the first day of school telling her her children should report to APS, she panicked.

?쏧 was kind of freaking out and kind of crying,??she said.

The whole situation, she said, was ?쐉ust a mess.??/p>

?쏷here?셲 too much confusion,??said Camilla Moore, a South Fulton activist. ?쏣verybody?셲 still trying to adjust.??/p>


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