Below are responses from Davis Fox, Policy and Projects Manager for Super District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon and Representative Mayo received in response to my question of whether the State would allow Midway Woods to exist as an unincorporated island surrounded by new and expanded cities:
From Davis Fox, on 9/29/14
Thank you for writing to Commissioner Gannon regarding annexation and cityhood in DeKalb. We will do our best to respond to your questions, but some of the answers are simply unknown at this point.
The City of South DeKalb is a long way from a reality. Last year a group around Stonecrest Mall proposed to form a new city, however the finances did not pencil-out for a viable city according to a study conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute. Another group has come along in recent months to advocate for a city of South DeKalb that essentially includes everything south of Memorial Drive and U.S. 78. I don’t know if this group has a sufficient following, or where it stands on raising $30,000 for a Carl Vinson financial feasibility study. However, the Stonecrest proposal failed because the study area lacked sufficient commercial properties. It is hard for me to imagine that a larger area with more residential property is going to be financially viable. To date no financial analysis has been conducted for a city of South DeKalb. While there has been a place-holder bill introduced for a city of South DeKalb, the bill has never advanced and no elected officials have been strong advocates for such a city.
A related question is what will be the financial condition of unincorporated DeKalb if Decatur and Avondale annex large commercial properties and if other new cities (Lakeside, Tucker or Briarcliff) are formed? The state process for annexation or forming new cities does not require the General Assembly to analyze or consider the impact of annexation or cityhood on unincorporated DeKalb. The County is attempting to determine this impact. The first numbers – just on forming new cities – are disturbing. Work is not yet complete. It is possible that the financial implications upon unincorporated DeKalb may cause the legislature to slow down. Right now there is something of a panic among many neighborhoods. Decisions in such an atmosphere are difficult, and it will be helpful to have more data.
While the legislature has a lot of leeway in annexation and forming new cities, they generally will not create “islands” of unincorporated areas surrounded by municipalities. This creates way too many service delivery problems. With all of the other annexation and cityhood discussions, this will be an important consideration in drawing maps. It is unlikely for Midway Woods to be surrounded by cities.
I hope this answers some of your questions. Please feel free to forward this response to interested neighbors
Davis Fox, Policy and Projects Manager for Super District 6 Commissioner Kathie Gannon, DeKalb County Board of Commissioners
Rep. Rahn Mayo, by email 10/6/14
Michael, I spoke to legislative counsel and got an opinion on the act related to unincorporated islands. The intent of the statute was to prevent cities from creating islands when they annex areas. For instance, if Decatur wanted to annex parts of south DeKalb and went around Midway Woods to do so. The code does not apply to unincorporated islands that may be created as a result of the General Assembly creating new cities. This would be the case in the event that the city of South DeKalb were incorporated by an act of the General Assembly. Depending on the specific order of action, the potential upcoming actions could possibly be a violation of the unincorporated island code. With so many variables and hypotheticals it is impossible to provide a definitive answer. I will get a written opinion in the next few days for more clarity.