Fulton Industrial to be part of South Fulton, if voters approve

The last unincorporated piece of Fulton County will become part of the city of South Fulton — if residents county-wide vote to allow it.

The Georgia Senate this week passed a bill that would make the Fulton Industrial Boulevard district part of the new city, if a constitutional amendment that keeps the area from joining any jurisdiction is repealed. It awaits the governor’s signature.

The annexation into South Fulton will only happen, though, if Fulton voters in November decide to end the restriction on the area being part of any municipality. If they do, the eight-mile stretch of land that is the biggest industrial area in the region will join the new city Jan. 1.

Atlanta had fought for the district, taking its argument last year to the state supreme court. The court declined to rule on whether the area could be annexed into Atlanta or any other city, saying no annexation had been proposed.

In a statement in October, an Atlanta spokesperson said the city would “evaluate its options going forward.” Thursday, a spokesperson said the city would have no comment on Fulton Industrial.

The district, which has 46 million square feet of industrial space and a workforce of more than 20,000 people, would bring South Fulton an additional $5 to $6 million in tax revenue each year, said Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta.

“It’s a big deal,” Bruce said. “People will get the services they want for police and fire. Children in the area will continue to go to Fulton County schools.”

Atlanta wanted a piece of the district, Bruce said, so he offered to help annex any parcels into Atlanta if anyone wanted to go. But no one came to him saying they wanted to be in the city. Gil Prado, the executive director of the Fulton Industrial Community Improvement District, said he didn’t know of any landowners who wanted to join Atlanta.

Atlanta last year sent letters to property owners urging them to annex into the city, but no one was interested, Prado said.

The district, which has been around for more than 50 years, has a Coca-Cola bottling plant and facilities for Ryder, Gatorade, Frito Lay and other companies, Prado said.

“I’ve never heard from any property owner saying they want to go into the city of Atlanta,” Prado said. “It seems the property owners are in favor of going to the city of South Fulton.”

David Seem, the chief financial officer for the in-store marketing company Miller Zell, said previously that he expected he would get more attention as part of a smaller city.

Residents across Fulton County, though, have the fate of the area in their hands. They must approve a referendum if the district is to be resolved.

Bruce said he would like the companies that want to join South Fulton to help fund a campaign to make people aware of the vote. He said he hopes Atlanta doesn’t try to influence voters against the referendum.

The results of the vote are anybody’s guess, Prado said. But he said if the vote fails, the future of the area is in question. If residents don’t approve the referendum, the bill that adds the area to South Fulton will be repealed.

“If it doesn’t happen, what would happen to Fulton Industrial?” he said. “Where does it get its services from? There’s a lot of unanswered questions that we don’t know.”

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