Palmetto council opposes anti-annexation bills

Mon, 02/13/2006 - 10:25am
By: Ben Nelms

Palmetto council members Feb. 6 voted 5-0 to adopt a resolution joining Georgia Municipal Association’s opposition to two House bills related to municipal annexation. Resolution 06-01 opposes any legislation that restricts the rights of property owners seeking to annex into a city.

The resolution, “In Support of Annexation as a Private Property Right,” maintained that H.B. 962 and H.B. 1101 would severely restrict private property rights and empower county commissioners with veto authority over whether a person’s private property can or cannot become a part of a city. The resolution holds annexation to be a property rights issue, allowing owners of property adjacent to existing city boundaries to petition to come into a city for a more responsive local government.

The resolution cites moves by county commissions across Georgia, at the request of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, urging the General Assembly to change existing law to give county commissioners veto power over annexation requests. Though GMA and ACCG recently endorsed the creation of a Council of Local Governments to serve as a public policy bridge on issues where the two bodies disagree, GMA believes, and the resolution agrees, that the issue of annexation as a private property right is better served by “a thorough and deliberate discussion by city and county elected officials rather than taking a localized situation to craft a statewide response.”

The resolution requests that the author of the bills, Social Circle Rep. Doug Holt, withdraw the legislation and pursue the issue with the Council of Local Governments. House Bill 962, referred to as the “Fair Annexation Act” seeks to establish state policy regarding annexation and provide that no municipality be allowed to annex property in which certain services are provided by the county or which is included in the county’s comprehensive zoning plan unless the county consents. The bill states that annexation occur when necessary to accommodate natural growth by providing services unavailable outside municipal boundaries, that annexation is not in the best interest for those in or outside a city when the objective is to generate revenues rather than build communities and that annexation should be mutually beneficial to all parties. House Bill 1101 states that a city may not annex any area located in a county in which less than 10 percent of the city “lies without the consent of the county governing authority.”

In a Jan. 31 letter, GMA said the current annexation law is the result of two years of negotiations with ACCG, whose concern, and the eventual passage of H.B. 709, was that a process be put in place to allow county officials to voice concerns over land use changes and service delivery issues that resulted from annexation.

The resolution was read by Mayor Clark Bode. The 5-0 vote followed with no discussion.

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