Emory University considers annexation into the city of Atlanta


Emory University’s campus

Sophie Rivard


Emory University is seeking annexation into the Atlanta city limits.The university, which uses an Atlanta address, currently is officially located in DeKalb County. Benifits of the annexation could include easing traffic concerns around the campus and attracting a MARTA transit station.


“I would definitely love it if Emory became part of Atlanta proper, especially in terms of us getting a MARTA line,” said Emory sophomore Clare Reid.  “Right now, to get to the nearest MARTA station in downtown Decatur, you either have to take an Uber or multiple buses, which is expensive and time consuming.”


Emory area property owners may petition the city of Atlanta to officially become part of the city’s boundaries, said DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader. Rader is a resident of the area. If the city considers the annexation request, a council vote is all that’s required to bring the university into city borders, Rader said. The university said in a statement it’s also beginning the process to seek annexation into Atlanta.


Rader organized a meeting Aug. 22 to discuss potential negative impacts on DeKalb from the annexation. The meeting’s goal was to inform residents of their rights regarding the annexation, Rader said.


“Emory’s annexation could majorly impact the surrounding areas of DeKalb in terms of land use regulation,” Rader said. “If Emory were in the city of Atlanta, they would apply to the City of Atlanta to build more buildings or control traffic within the area. The City of Atlanta would have no responsibility to the surrounding neighborhoods of DeKalb to make sure that the impacts on them were addressed.”


Marie Johanson, an Emory professor, thinks city’s annexation could benefit the school, which has issues with traffic and limited access to public transit.  Annexation improves Emory’s chances of gaining  MARTA light-rail onto campus. An Emory MARTA rail line would run between the Lindbergh and Avondale stations.


“If through joining the city, Emory could be provided any traffic relief or public transportation, that would be good for the university,” Johanson said. “Emory has been wanting a MARTA line for the 20 years that I’ve worked there; it could really improve the campus for students and faculty.”


Like Rader, other residents who aren’t county officials also expressed concerns about Emory’s potential official move into the city of Atlanta, particularly MARTA construction.


“From what I understand, the light-rail would be constructed right across the street from my house,’’ Glenna Reeves, an area resident, said. “A transit track across the street is not only something that I don’t want to look out the window at, but it also gives the possibility for a negative home value for my family and other families on both sides of North Decatur.”