After three deferrals over about two months, Brookhaven City Council on Dec. 8 finally and unanimously added Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Executive Park to the city.

“I think it’s an honor for Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to have requested annexation into the city of Brookhaven,” Mayor J. Max Davis said. “This opportunity allows up to play an integral role in expanding their mission of giving care and comfort to sick children and saving lives. As a parent, this means so much.”

He said the move will have advantages for the city.

“I think CHOA and Executive Park will be key in developing Buford Highway,” Davis said.

The council took its time to mull the early October request from the two parcels, located on the city’s south side and across I-85. The city released a service report stating that the annexation would require the city to hire five more police officers and another code enforcement official.

The cost for the additional police would be $583,000, while the cost for the extra code enforcement officer would be $100,000.

City officials say they were initially concerned the city could not afford to bring the properties in.

“We knew what we knew and we knew what we didn’t know, but what scared us was not knowing what we didn’t know,” City Councilman Joe Gebbia said. “That is the reason we deferred action numerous times and extensively vetted each position.”

Owners of the properties agreed to pay for the services the city would have to provide in order to not burden taxpayers. Finalizing that agreement was what the council continued to mull each time it deferred voting.

Ultimately, the parties came to a “cost defrayment agreement,” whereby CHOA would pay a $342,000 upfront to provide services for its tax-exempt parcels. CHOA representatives say they plan to start developing the property as soon as possible, meaning a greater piece of the property will start to generate taxes.

Meanwhile, a special tax district will be created for Executive Park and the non-exempt parcels of CHOA to offset the cost of their portion of city services.

The proposal had its naysayers, particularly among residents outside the city.

Representatives for the proposed new city of LaVista Hills asked both Brookhaven city officials and the property owners to delay the annexation. They wanted to see whether LaVista Hills wins legislative approval and could include CHOA and Executive Park within its boundaries.

“Let’s stay in the boundaries,” said former Brookhaven Councilman Jim Eyre to the council, adding that an annexation would take “valuable revenue from LaVista Hills.”

Resident Dale Boone favored the annexation. “LaVista Hills doesn’t pay city taxes,” he said, explaining that the city should act in favor of its own taxpayers.

Representatives for CHOA and Executive Park say they prefer Brookhaven.

CHOA lawyer William Galloway said the decision was “driven by a number of factors.” He said his client wanted to be part of a city with a proven record of code enforcement and permitting, so that once CHOA presents plans for its redevelopment, its owners will know what to expect.

“Y’all built a good identity,” he said. “It’s a brand, a brand that means something.”

 

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