Attendees at the legislative luncheon (Henry County photo)
Henry County commissioners and members of the local legislative delegation held a joint luncheon this week to discuss issues affecting Henry County and the county’s legislative priorities. A major topic raised by commissioners was the effect annexation is having on the county’s development.
Annexation is the method under which unincorporated land owners can apply for and be approved to join an adjacent city. Often, land owners and developers request annexation for large tracts of land to develop the property. This generally results in new subdivisions at higher densities than the county supports, but it has also been used for industrial and commercial purposes.
Under current state law, counties have no options to block an annexation. If the proposed zoning is inconsistent with the comprehensive land use plan, the board can only delay its rezoning for one year. If annexed, after that year has passed, the property’s use is solely up to the city council.
Commissioner Barham made the remark he would like to see the one year period extended to five years. Commissioner Thomas asked state legislators to require cities to show their municipal services can support the annexed area.
Any changes to annexation law at the state level are very unlikely. While the current system is of concern to Henry County and local residents, the topic is not a statewide issue being raised by a significant number of communities.
This year has seen a number of annexations, both large and small, throughout the county.
The largest annexation involved the Hampton city council annexing nearly two-thousand acres and increasing the city’s land area by 54% in October. The land owners maintained their RA (residential agricultural) zoning during the annexation process, but there’s speculation they will apply for industrial development in the future.
In McDonough, council members have approved several annexations that infill existing holes in the city limits. This included a new oil change station off I-75 exit 218 and a new subdivision on Lake Dow Road. They also rejected an annexation request and associated rezoning for apartments along McDonough Parkway.
Locust Grove has annexed numerous parcels into the city, starting with ninety-eight acres located north of Colvin Drive last December. To the immediate east, an additional five parcels have been annexed with another two applications accepted this week.
Stockbridge has seen very few applications for annexation. Last month, the council approved an annexation off state route 138 so that the owner can combine it with an adjacent parcel inside city limits.