South Fulton, Georgia

South Fulton, Georgia

South Fulton is the unofficial nickname of the last remaining unincorporated region of Fulton County. It was a proposed municipality, to comprise all of the remaining unincorporated land in southwest Fulton County, Georgia, near East Point and College Park. This area is known to residents as "Unincorporated." The communities of Red Oak, Rico, Cooks Crossing, Stonewall, Tell, Fife, Campbellton, Ben Hill, ,Sandtown, Cliftondale, Cochran Mill, and Peters Woods (a few of which were formerly pre-Civil War cities) are all to be found in Unincorporated.

In 2007, the region voted on a referendum to form a municipality. If passed it would have made Fulton County the only county in Georgia, and one of the few in the United States, to be comprised entirely of municipalities. The legislation authorizing the referendum was sponsored by State Senator Kasim Reed, a member of the Georgia State Senate. Although the area has many low-density suburbs, with so much high-density development underway, it would be called a "city", the only type of incorporation currently allowed under Georgia law.

The referendum was a direct result of the long-fought incorporation of Sandy Springs, on the opposite side of Atlanta (the county seat). After that success in 2005, Johns Creek and Milton followed in 2006, and Chattahoochee Hills Country, located in extreme southwest Fulton County, voted the same in June 2007.

While each of these passed by huge margins (several times as many for as against), the September 2007 referendum in South Fulton was just the opposite, with an overwhelming 85% voting against incorporation. With such a major defeat, it appears that the elimination of the county government's home rule through total municipalization will not occur in the near future. According to the vote, the residents appear to send a mandate, preferring the loose reigns of county government to the higher taxes and more stringent guidelines that come with city government. Or possibly, it was also a vote against the name itself, which was not chosen by consensus.

In the race to "beat the clock" on a potential South Fulton incorporation, bordering cities including Atlanta, Fairburn, Union City, College Park, East Point, and Palmetto sought annexations, as they would no longer be able to do so with another city up to their own city limits. Some were successful in getting the approval of residents and city councils, and these annexations will stand (unless repealed) even without South Fulton as a city.

Fulton's county commission will continue to have city powers in the unincorporated area, even though in Georgia commissioners are elected by and can be from anywhere within their assigned electoral district, including the cities where they only have regular county powers. If the Georgia Township Act had been reintroduced and passed in the 2008 Georgia General Assembly, the area could vote to become a "township", which under the 2007 bill would be essentially identical to what a village is in the legal terms of other U.S. states (control over land use and zoning, but not services or civil law).

Splitting the area out of Fulton and into Campbell (the county which formerly covered essentially all of South Fulton and the existing cities of southwest Fulton) has also been discussed by legislators, including a constitutional amendment to allow the re-creation of both former counties (Campbell and Milton). Currently, Georgia's constitution prohibits any more than the 159 counties it already has. This was expected to be raised in the 2008 session.

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