A local small town may get bigger if one state lawmaker has his way. The city of Harlem could expand, but some of the people who live there don’t want any part of it.
This annexation would nearly double the city’s size, which means land that is currently part of Columbia County would belong to the city.
At Columbia County’s Commission meeting, commissioners made it known that they oppose extending Harlem’s city limits.
Columbia County Commissioner, Dewey Galeas, says, “Columbia County Opposes House Bill 598 as written.”
It was a unanimous vote against the city limits extension.
“The Columbia County Board of Commissioners respectfully request House Bill 598 be vetoe’d by the Governor of the State of Georgia,” says Galeas.
The bill was written by State Representative, Barry Fleming.
“I would not introduce an annexation bill, if when I introduced it any of the landowners objected to coming into the city,” says Fleming.
However, homeowners we talked to are against this bill. One homeowner, Terry Harig, says expansion means traffic, and that will just drive him out of town.
“I moved from Evans to the Martinez area because I didn’t want the traffic,” says Harig.
Local business owners believe growth is good for business, but they are asking themselves if they will be able to keep up.
Owner of Gitti’s Used Cars of Harlem, Gitti Gay, says, “it’s not only me, there are a bunch of small business owners that are here locally and it can be because we can’t compete monetarily with big chains.”
Harig agrees, he says, “we’re growing too fast, we are going to have a larger city with too many people.”
A larger city and too many people loses the small town charm of Harlem, and Terry believes it will also cost homeowners a pretty penny.
“They got a bigger tax revenue because more people paying taxes but they still in crease your property taxes, they’ve never failed to go down, I mean they never go down, they’ve always went up,” says Harig.
The new lines have been passed in the House and Senate, it is just waiting on the Georgia governor’s signature.
Rep. Barry Fleming: “This has been a 3 or 4 year long process and it will continue,” says Fleming.
We’ve reached out to Harlem’s City Council and mayor multiple times, but we have not heard back.
Columbia County leaders say they are not ready to talk about the issue on camera, yet.