Eric Clarkson  Chamblee Mayor
Eric Clarkson, Chamblee Mayor

Chamblee will grow substantially in size and population at midnight Dec. 31. Residents of an area north of the city voted on Dec. 2 to approve their annexation. About 58 percent of the residents who cast ballots in the annexation election voted yes. The area to be annexed includes Huntley Hills and nearby neighborhoods.

We asked Chamblee Mayor R. Eric Clarkson five questions about the annexation and what it means for the city.

Q. What do you do next?

A. The city has been preparing for the potential annexation for about six months, ever since the General Assembly approved it and the governor signed it. We’re on a very short time frame here. At midnight Dec. 31, the area becomes part of the city.

For police, the City Council already has authorized the resources they need, so they can have the personnel and they can have the equipment they need on Jan. 1. For other departments, we’ve been working with the county so there will be a seamless transition. So on Day 1, we’ll be ready to make the transfer. We’ve discussed with county [officials] having the county provide some services for a period of time. Sanitation comes to mind. They may [continue to provide garbage pickup and be paid for the service by the city]. Our City Council has agreed to it, but the county Board of Commissioners has to agree to it.

Q. Do you have a time period established to takeover garbage collection?

A. We’ve talked about one to two years.

Q. Is the departure of City Manager James Gleason going to create problems?

A. He told us back in June that his wife has taken a position in Florida. We will have a 2011 budget complete prior to his resigning, retiring, whatever. The City Council will be naming an interim city manager in two weeks.

Q. How will this annexation change this city?

A. First and most obvious, it grows a significant amount. We’re talking 40 to 50 percent in land mass and population. We’re adding 5,000 residents, but Dunwoody created an entire government overnight.

I don’t think it makes [the city] any different. I think what our council has been trying to tell people is that folks living outside the city are part of the same community. People wanted to be annexed because they felt like they were part of the city of Chamblee for some time now. For their sense of community, actually living in the city will be an improvement. One of the main reasons you hear that people wanted to be annexed is they wanted to be closer to their mayor and council members.

Q. Who will be their council members?

A. We’ll have to redistrict our council districts at some point next year. That’s one thing our city attorney said we would have to decide, whether to redistrict right away or wait until the U.S. Census numbers come out next spring. I would imagine the council will take this question up in January. That’s one of the things in our six months of ‘what ifs’, was ‘Do we add another council district?’

We have a low number of citizens per council member, so we probably already have enough council members. That’s the beautiful thing about local government: You get to decide how you want to run that government.