One of the state's oldest universities may become the City of Atlanta's newest resident.

Emory University has begun looking into the process of annexation into the city of Atlanta.

In a statement released Friday, August 19, the university said annexation to Atlanta "has always been viewed as one of the most viable and long-term options."

Annexation of Emory into the City of Atlanta will not affect school districts, since neighboring communities like Druid Hills will still be self-determining regarding annexation.

Emory’s annexation into the City of Atlanta has always been viewed as one of the most viable, long-term options and one that provides consistency and alignment relative to the University’s marketing and branding initiatives. Emory already promotes its location as Atlanta, is known internationally as being located in Atlanta, routinely recruits faculty and students to Atlanta, and has an Atlanta address and zip code.

The prestige of Emory as an international university and Atlanta as a global city are inextricably linked.

On Monday night, DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader held a public meeting to discuss Emory's plans to pursue annexation.

Rader told 11Alive before the meeting that he has several concerns about the school's interest in joining the city of Atlanta.

He mentioned there are several pieces of property within Emory's footprint that haven't made it clear if they would plan to join Atlanta as well, or if they wish to remain in unincorporated DeKalb County.

"The Center for Disease Control, the Harwood Condominiums, other residential projects there," Rader said. "So how do those islands become resolves?"

A CDC spokeswoman by e-mail informed 11Alive that the CDC is aware of Emory University's position and that her agency is currently evaluating its own options.

While Emory states annexation wouldn't affect school districts, Rader said it could impact budgets for schools.

"Activities in the corridor, even though much of the area is not taxable for the purposes of property taxes, it is tax exempt for government, nevertheless there are sales taxes generated there."

Those sales taxes are tied to budgets for both the county and public schools according to the commissioner's office.

Rader is also concerned about the impact Emory's annexation could have on the school's neighbors that remain in unincorporated land. Atlanta would have to approve any future permits and zoning changes for the university.

"But all the adjacent communities that would be feeling the impact of changes in land use wouldn't be constituents of the government that is making those decisions," Rader said. He added that could mean those residents interests are therefore not represented.

A spokesperson with Mayor Kasim Reed's office welcomed the Emory's consideration:

Mayor Reed welcomes all communities who choose annexation into the City of Atlanta. If successful, the annexation of this vital corridor would present the rare opportunity to bring a world-class teaching and research institution, strong neighborhoods, hundreds of thriving commercial and industrial businesses and the leading national public health institute of the United States into the city of Atlanta.

Emory confirms that it will be seeking annexation through a petition process. Petitions for annexation have to be reviewed by the City of Atlanta. Once Emory begins the annexation process a public hearing would need to be held and the city council would have to adopt an ordinance to annex the land in question.

Once annexed, Atlanta would have to provide services at the same level the city already does for current residents and property owners.

In response, DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Radar has asked the surroundings communities around the university to meet on Monday, August 22 to try and form a possible solution to keep Emory from leaving.

Commissioner Rader would like to convene the leadership of unincorporated neighborhoods surrounding Emory University. While there is no privileged information to share, his interest is in education and feedback on the potential for Emory University to petition for the unilateral annexation of their DeKalb County properties into the City of Atlanta. They are entitled to do so under the “60% or 100% method” (with petitions bearing the signature of annexing properties) under existing state law, and there are indications (such as Atlanta’s inclusion of an Atlanta portion of Clifton Corridor Light Rail in the MARTA half penny referendum this November) that Emory might see annexation as advantageous.

Properties and neighborhoods adjacent to Emory would be eligible to join such a petition, but Emory could also move unilaterally, and neighborhoods need to contemplate that contingency.

The following neighborhoods are within this sphere of influence:
Victoria Estates Civic Association
Clairmont Heights
Druid Hills Civic Assn.
Emory Parc Manor
LaVista Hills
Mason Mill Civic Assn.
Merry Hills
North Druid Hills Residents Assn.
Woodland Hills