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Sunday, February 23, 2014

The Optimistic Cartographer

The City of Clarkston Proposed Annexations

Partially in response to the new incorporation proposals for the Cities of Tucker and Briarcliff, the City of Clarkston prepared a study, Annexation Study - Phase I and Phase II, of possible annexations of adjacent areas of unincorporated DeKalb County. This study was prepared and submitted to the Clarkston City Council in the summer of 2013. Its current status in the General Assembly is currently unknown as no bill as been submitted as of today. Clarkston's current representatives in the General Assembly are Rep. Karla Drenner (D), House District 85, and Sen. Steve Henson (D), Senate District 41.  Rep. Michele Henson (D), House District 86, may also play a role as the some of the proposed areas for annexation are in her district.

The study focuses on 5 separate areas surrounding Clarkston. All five areas are primarily industrial and commercial, chosen to increase the tax base for the city while minimizing the need for additional city services. The overall map included in the study is deceptive in its scope, as it includes significant residential areas not proposed for annexation and not a part of the financial study. In fact, other than an optimistic cartographer, there is no real suggestion anywhere in the study that these residential areas are under serious consideration for annexation at all.

Several areas in the map, including significant residential communities not seriously proposed for annexation, are included in the proposed city boundaries for both Tucker and Briarcliff.  While Clarkston may be a great town with a long and proud history, it does not have a particularly strong reputation locally and is therefore not a favorite of the adjacent communities, particularly those north and west of I-285 and north of US 78. There can be no reasonable hope or expectation that those areas would ever voluntarily choose to join with the City of Clarkston. Of particular interest in this regard are those neighborhoods off of McClendon Road, and south of Lawrenceville Highway, which include the Emory Northlake Orthopaedics and Spine Hospital, and the new John's Homestead Park enthusiastically adopted by the Tucker community. COBI has unfortunately chosen to redraw their map to totally disassociate themselves from those areas in the Clarkston annexation map, even those areas with no reasonable expectation of annexation. I suspect that the residents off of McClendon Road are sorely disappointed with this pusillanimous decision on COBI's part.

Maps of the proposed annexations, and the Annexation Study, follow after the break.

City of Clarkston Official Zoning Map, 2013

City of Clarkston, Annexation Study Areas (undated)

City of Clarkston, Phase II Overall Map, from the Annexation Study - Phase I and Phase II
(This map was pulled from the official Annexation Study, screen captured from the pdf file, page 8.)

The map shows both Phase I, and the four separate and distinct Areas proposed for Phase II.  The four Areas of Phase II are primarily industrial and commercial in nature, while also including several apartment complexes. Additionally, this map also shows extensive surrounding residential that are not a part of either Phase, and are not included in the Study's financial analysis. In other words, the map shows areas that are not a part of any proposed annexation areas, but may be areas the City may have a future interest in.

Following is a pdf file of the Annexation Study presented to the Clarkston City Council.  In review, it should be noted that the study focuses on the financial aspects of the formal Phase I and Phase II areas, and does not address, in any way whatsoever, the more extensive residential areas shown on the study area map.


  1. People have contacted both the current mayor, Ted Terry, and the city manager, Keith Barker, and were told Clarkston is only pursuing the Phase 1 and 2 annexations. However, no one can explain why the larger areas were even considered or placed on a map.

    I think it makes sense for Clarkston to have a plan in place for the larger annexation. No one knows what the eventual outcome of the cityhood battles will be, and their expanded map would fit nicely (for them) with a city of Lakeside or Briarcliff. I think everything on their map south of 78 would be good for them.

    1. I agree that the areas south of the Stone Mountain Freeway and east of I-285 are appropriate areas for Clarkston to annex. However, to reaffirm my argument, Clarkston has no strong argument to go north of the freeway or west of 285. The residential areas to the north will always look to Tucker or Briarcliff (assuming that happens), while all areas west of the Perimeter should be included in whatever happens to work out best for Scotdale, which, in my opinion, would be Briarcliff.

    2. I agree about north of 78. However, if there is no cityhood for Tucker then it would be worth it for Clarkston to pursue it, especially with the surgical center, motels, and potential park.

      I disagree about part of the area ITP. The office and industrial off Church Street is mostly in Clarkston's 30021 zip code (strangely the map created by Clarkston for their proposal you posted above with the larger annexation idea has the incorrect zip code boundaries). The Creekdale and Venetian Estates neighborhoods north of East Ponce are also already in 30021. I think that's a fair reason to attempt to annex them.

      There's no strong argument at the moment for the others areas ITP to be part of Clarkston. If given a choice, I think residents would prefer Briarcliff to Clarkston. However, if only Lakeside passes then those people may be more interested in Clarkston since Lakeside doesn't seem to want them.

      I looked at Clarkston's Facebook page and found a map with a link to their city site:

      The current proposed annexations are for Area 1 and 2. In other maps I've seen Phase 1 and 2 with sub-areas. So it appears for now that all they're aiming for is the Brockett Road corridor northeast of the city, the sliver of unincorporated OTP and the office and industrial ITP.

      I read that Michele Henson may be the one to push legislation for them. Also read that Steve Henson thought the current smaller Clarkston annexation proposal had a good chance of passing both chambers.

  2. HB 1128 was filed for Clarkston's annexation attempt. Interestingly the bill only includes Area 2, which is the sliver of unincorporated OTP next to their existing city limits and the industrial areas off Church Street ITP. I wonder if they are waiting/were told to wait on Tucker's outcome, or if they are rethinking the wisdom of adding all those apartments off Brockett Road. The bill has Republican co-sponsors so I expect it will pass.

  3. Also HB 1130 was filed for Avondale Estates' annexation proposal. It's the same as I had been hearing with the new boundaries extended out to Katie Kerr and Columbia. Then the expansion northward to include the commercial and industrial off Laredo and most prestigiously of all Your DeKalb Farmer's Market and its $1million of taxable property.

  4. Since I'm using this entry as a bit of a catch-all, I will also note that SB95, Fran Millar's bill to make the CEO officially non-partisan, has passed the senate and will probably be passed in the house. I have seen only one mention of this bill in the AJC and nothing about it in any local DeKalb publications. It's a pretty big change and one that could actually do something good for the county. Also in the bill is a way for the BOC to appoint someone to a vacant commission seat, in this case Lee May's.