DeKalb County lawmakers are supporting legislation to end a lawsuit holding up the city of Chamblee’s recent annexation of Century Center.
In November about 11,000 residents of unincorporated DeKalb voted to annex their area, which includes the Century Center office park, into the city of Chamblee. But Chamblee and Brookhaven had been fighting for months over annexing the Century Center property, which would boost the tax base of either city.
Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, who represents the area, said he introduced the bills to “legislatively recognize the result of the November referendum.”
Highwoods Properties, the owners of Century Center, applied for annexation into Brookhaven and Brookhaven City Council voted Oct. 8 to bring the property into the city. But Century Center was already drawn into the General Assembly’s local act establishing the Chamblee annexation referendum.
The two cities went to court, and DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Tangela Barrie ruled that Brookhaven could only annex the property if the Nov. 5 Chamblee referendum failed. After the referendum was approved, Brookhaven discontinued funding an appeal of the judge’s decision, but Highwoods carried on with the appeal effort.
“The purpose is to end the litigation so that way both Chamblee and Brookhaven can move on with planning their futures,” Holcomb said.
On Feb. 3, the DeKalb County delegation approved the local legislation, which will now go before the full General Assembly for approval. The legislation consists of two bills: one that will recognize the new borders of Chamblee, and another which “out of an abundance of caution” will officially de-annex Century Center from the city of Brookhaven, Holcomb said.
“Their appeal is alive because Brookhaven hasn’t rescinded its annexation vote. The General Assembly has a role to play with setting boundaries and borders between cities, counties, etc. We have a dispute that needs to be resolved
Holcomb said it’s the job of the General Assembly, not the court system, to settle annexations.
“Chamblee has to plan for its future. From a policy standpoint, this is a horrible process. If we let the courts work this out it could be years before we have an answer, and that’s not satisfying for anyone who’s involved,” Holcomb said.
Brookhaven City Councilman Bates Mattison said he feels the legislation would take away the ability of businesses like Century Center to use the legal system since they do not get a vote in annexation.
“I do feel that a business owner should have their voice heard,” Mattison said.