Friday, October 24, 2008


Forgive me, but this annexation talk is crazy.

I mean, really ... annexation.

Ed Robinson - apparently in a desperate attempt to give me further doubts about his candidacy following his lackadaisical approach to his Athens Grow Green questionnaire - raises the possibility of annexing parts of the surrounding counties that have different land uses and zonings than those that line Athens-Clarke County.

This whole thing starts off very rationally as Robinson rightfully argues that Athens-Clarke County officials should try to partner with its neighbors with regard to getting their land-use plans all on the same page (with presumably an emphasis on the borders). This is a very reasonable suggestion, but then it spirals off of the deep end by suggesting that if this doesn't happen, Athens-Clarke County will morph into an uber-blighted urban center that no one will find desirable.

And, if the talks break off, Athens-Clarke County should then enter into a protracted legal battle to forcibly take land from its neighboring counties.

Listen, I'm concerned about sprawl and overdevelopment, but this is lunacy.


Blogger Adrian said...

To be fair, I didn't read anything about a "protracted legal battle" or "forcibly" annexing land area. You are distorting the report. I don't know what Ed has in mind exactly, but there are some issues here that are not at all "lunacy."

First, the term "annexation" refers to municipal boundaries, not county boundaries. Unless there are contrary rules, Athens-Clarke County in its municipal capacity could conceivably annex land in adjacent counties just as other Georgia cities have done. I can't give you many good historical examples, but I know that Macon has annexed part of Jones County in the past and there has been a proposal to add more of it. Maps show that many cities lie across multiple counties -- such as how Bogart has territory in Clarke County -- though I don't know offhand which were chartered that way and which did it through annexation.

Second, it does make sense from a planning perspective to coordinate the zoning of adjacent incorporated and unincorporated territory. Some states actually gives cities extraterritorial zoning power. Some counties in some states have intergovernmental agreements with cities to make annexation a condition of rezoning in growth areas near municipal borders.

Third, Georgia does have a planning problem with its small county sizes. Communities have to absorb the externalized costs of nearby zoning regulations, and most planning efforts don't reach the metropolitan scale that they would need to be effective.

There are some interesting ideas going around concerning land use planning and local government. Georgia lawmakers recently considered authorizing a zoning authority dubbed a "township," and we did actually end up with this November's referendum on a constitutional amendment to provide for infrastructure development districts. Fulton County just got three new cities. We also heard the idea floating around to consolidate all of Barrow County's cities -- that might be crazy talk. In our history, don't forget that we kept slicing and dicing counties over and over until we got a constitutional provision that stopped it by limiting the number of counties to the present number of 159.

In another state's history, one of the craziest sounding ideas consolidated a number of cities and small towns across multiple counties consisting of different islands, resulting in the City of Greater New York.

Again, your post here exaggerated the character of the reported comments from Ed. Annexation is common nowadays. And since changing county boundaries was common in the past, I even venture to say that it wouldn't be unreasonable to consider combining counties one day in the future for the sake of efficiency and better planning.

11:19 PM  
Blogger Reverend said...

Why don't you check with the source before you further misquote a misquotation. If you would like to know what I am being misquoted about (which I assume is from the ABH) I will happily explain it to you. Newspapers have limited space and reporters have deadlines and Blake did his best to summarize almost 20 minutes of conversation in one sentence. I never told him I "supported" annexation (his unfortunate choice of words), I said if we did not work on regional solutions to our development, then in 20 or 30 years (at which time I doubt I will still be a commissioner, assuming I am elected) Athens may have no choice but to support its declining infrastructure by trying to annex surrounding commercial areas. This would be a nasty endeavor and it is the kind of inter-county warfare that we need to avoid -- by working NOW with the surrounding counties to avoid Athens becoming a burnt out urban core.

12:39 AM  

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