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Lovejoy annexation eyed?

By Michael Davis

Some of the residents on the Henry County side of Lovejoy Road don't think much of their only slightly paved street. While they're proud of their homes and the size of their lots, the street, some say, is in need of an upgrade. One resident recently described the road as a "pig trail with pot holes."

But that's where a development company, Lovejoy Meadows, LLC wants to build a 62-home subdivision with a commercial outparcel.

And some Henry County leaders are starting to feel that if the project is not approved, the developer may ask the nearby city of Lovejoy, which comes up to the Clayton-Henry county line, to annex the property into the city.

"[The developer] didn't threaten it, but there's always that possibility," said outgoing District II Commissioner Gary Freedman. "They did mention that if they didn't get what they want in Henry County, they would look at Clayton," he added.

The project calls for 62 single-family homes on 24.25 acres on the west side of Lovejoy Road with 2.31 acres of commercial space. Several residents of Lovejoy Road opposed the project when developers went before the Henry County Municipal Planning Commission for a recommendation, saying the plan called for too many houses in too small an area.

"My only objection is that there are just too many houses on that small piece of property," said Lovejoy Road resident Carol Purcell at the planning meeting.

Asked Wednesday about the possibility of annexation, Lee Kelly, who represents Lovejoy Meadows, said "I would rather not make any comments."

Lovejoy Mayor Joe Murphy said he and the city have no interest in annexing into Henry County, and that statutory restrictions may make it next to impossible.

"The only way you could annex across county lines would be to have 100 percent cooperation from the [board of commissioners]," Murphy said.

Another option would be to petition the state Legislature, he said, "but we would have to justify as to what benefit it would have to both parties."

Incoming Henry County Chairman Jason Harper said Tuesday night he would fight any attempt by another city to come into Henry.

"I don't want Henry County's zoning decisions to be governed by Clayton County government or the Lovejoy City Council," he said.

Cities typically use annexation to expand their borders and their tax bases, but commissioners have questioned some cities' ability to provide municipal services to new residents.

Annexation has been a particularly biting problem for Henry commissioners.

Commissioners tabled Lovejoy Meadows' request this week. It is expected to be heard again in January.