The Brookhaven City Council on Nov. 24 again delayed a vote on annexing Children’s Healthcare and Executive Park. But the mayor and city council appear ready to welcome the developments into the city.
Mayor J. Max Davis said he thinks the agreement will be “a good thing” for the city, but that an agreement on services still needs to be formalized.
“We want to continue the process of making sure the annexation request is thoroughly vetted before making a final decision,” he said.
The annexation request has drawn sharp criticism from residents looking to form a new city in DeKalb that would include the area.
Representatives for the proposed new city, now being called LaVista Hills, asked the office developments to reconsider their annexation requests, saying the future city would be a better fit for them. Their annexation into Brookhaven would “have a tremendous impact on our proposed city,” Mary Kay Woodworth, chair of the LaVista Hills group, told the council on Nov. 18.
But representatives for the properties have continued to say they want to be part of Brookhaven. “This was a real simple . . . process for us,” Ron Frieson, chief public policy officer for Children’s Healthcare, said at the Nov. 18 council meeting. He said he knew that with all the cityhood efforts in DeKalb, Children’s would eventually become part of some city, and that he wanted the organization to be in an “established” and “well-run” municipality.
The proposed annexation also has the backing of the Brookhaven Chamber of Commerce. Melissa Bryson, chair of the chamber’s economic development team, said the move would bring “thousands of additional jobs” into the city, and that the developments could serve as a gateway into the city’s southern zone.
Brookhaven held first and second readings on Nov. 18 and 20, respectively, as well as public hearings. The annexations were first deferred on Nov. 20 as city officials expected to have the agreement in place by Nov. 24.
Owners of the two office parks, located south of I-85, asked in October to become part of the city and have agreed to pay for additional police and a code enforcement officer for the area. Representatives of the properties have said they will pay for the services until the area is redeveloped and can bring in taxes to cover the costs.
The annexation would require Brookhaven to hire five more police officers and another code enforcement officer, according to the report. The cost for the additional police would be $583,000, while the cost for the extra code enforcement officer is $100,000. DeKalb County would continue to provide water, sewer and fire services for the annexed area as it also does for Brookhaven. The report said no increase in cost was expected for general administration services.
The pending agreement is one reason Davis has said he became comfortable with the idea of the annexation.
“We are willing to guarantee that the city and taxpayers are not going to have to dig into pockets,” said Woody Galloway, a lawyer for Children’s Healthcare, at one of the public hearings.
He said that as a non-profit, Children’s wouldn’t generate much tax revenue for the city, but the organization plans to add tax-generating developments in the future that should be able to cover the costs of services.
City officials have said they will post the service agreement on Brookhaven’s website once it’s formalized.