A group of property and business owners under threat of annexation along East College Avenue plan to start tidying up the area this month with the help of a county commissioner.
On Feb. 27 commissioner Kathie Gannon will join on a small group of business owners who have protested several state representatives’ plans to annex a tract of unincorporated DeKalb County sitting between Decatur and Avondale Estates. The proposal would essentially bring Decatur’s borders east and Avondale Estates’ borders west along the small stretch of commercial property, making Sam’s Crossing the new border.
Gannon and other county officials protested the annexation proposal – spearheaded by Avondale Estates state Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield – earlier this month, claiming the annexation would drain the county’s already depleted commercial tax base. Under the current proposal, Decatur would absorb about 10 businesses and Avondale Estates would take 22. Benfield said she is pursuing the annexation to better control the appearance of what she says are blighted properties along the industrial tract.
Peggy Gargiulo, one of the property owners, wants to prevent that.
“We’ll be doing any kind of things that we can physically do and make a difference in terms of appearance,” she said. “Every single issue we can address, and there should be no reason for annexation.”
Gargiulo said she and several other business owners have created a list of improvements to businesses along the street that leads into Avondale Estates’ Tudor-themed gateway. That includes picking up trash, tearing away decrepit fencing and repainting some businesses’ exteriors.
Benfield told The Champion earlier this month that her annexation effort stalled after one of the representatives she needed to put the issue to a vote on the House floor pulled her signature – one of 10 Benfield needed to put the measure before the General Assembly.
Gargiulo said Benfield still has plans to push the proposal through and continues to lobby for the final signature. She said she’s hoping to make that unnecessary. “We want to be supportive. We want to be proactive. We want to make a difference,” she said. “We want to do what they want, but we don’t have to be annexed in Avondale to do that.”