Despite the recent approval of legislation intended to end any dispute over where Century Center will end up, the owners of the commercial property say they plan to continue fighting.
Jim Bacchetta, vice president of Highwoods Properties’ Atlanta Division, which owns Century Center, said the company wants to continue its appeal of a judge’s decision placing the property in the city of Chamblee.
“We don’t think [the legislation] is going to affect the appeal. I think we’re still going to have our day in court,” Bacchetta said.
Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta, who represents the area, introduced two bills that were approved by the General Assembly – one defining the borders of the city of Brookhaven, and one defining the new borders of the city of Chamblee, to “legislatively recognize the result of the November referendum.”
Both bills are awaiting the signature of the governor.
“The General Assembly has the legal authority to make the borders of municipalities,” Holcomb said. “Once the governor signs it, it will be law, It will be the law of the state that those are the boundaries of those cities. It’s pretty clear in my mind.”
In November, 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.
Highwoods Properties applied for annexation into Brookhaven, and Brookhaven City Council voted 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 a DeKalb judge ruled that Brookhaven could only annex the property if Chamblee’s Nov. 5 annexation referendum failed. After the referendum was approved, Brookhaven discontinued funding an appeal of the judge’s decision, but Highwoods carried on with its appeal. The case has yet to be heard by the Supreme Court.
“I don’t think it’s appropriate given that the judicial system should play out. There’s a pending appeal and I think it should be heard in the court system,” Bacchetta said.
Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson said the city has hired 22 new police officers and increased its budget by about $1 million this year to serve the approximately 11,000 new residents that joined the city as part of the November annexation. “At the end of the day it would just be very nice to have this issue resolved and put behind us so we can all move on as a region,” Clarkson said.