Cityhood committee votes Friday

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt December 18, 2014
House DeKalb County Cityhood Subcommittee on Governmental Affairs meets on Dec. 3. From Left to right: Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming), Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) and Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta). Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

House DeKalb County Cityhood Subcommittee on Governmental Affairs meets on Dec. 3. From Left to right: Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur), Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming), Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem) and Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta). Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

A panel tasked with refereeing a dispute between the proposed cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker will vote on maps on Friday, Dec. 19.

The House Governmental Affairs committee appointed the five-member DeKalb County Cityhood Subcommittee after supporters of the two cities failed to reach an agreement on their boundaries. The panel – comprised of two Democrats from DeKalb County and three Republicans from outside the county – held a hearing on Dec. 3 that drew hundreds of people to the capitol.

According to a media advisory, the meeting will be held from 9 am to 11 am in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building.

The cityhood movement has existing cities and unincorporated communities in DeKalb County scrambling to stake their claims to any part of the county that isn’t in a city ahead of the 2015 session. Decatur approved its annexation master plan earlier this week. Avondale estates won’t vote on its plan until January.

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  • wm

    A vote for a new city is ultimately a vote to raise both school and county ad valorem taxes on residents in North DeKalb. How ironic.

    • notapunk

      There’s so much factually wrong with that statement, I can’t decide where to begin….

  • Dan Wright

    Central DeKalb Neighborhoods Forced
    to Choose Municipalities Prefer to Remain Unincorporated

    Surveys Reveal No City Choice


    (Central DeKalb County, GA.
    December 18, 2014)
    Today the leadership of established communities joined together to
    create a single continuous block that stretches five miles eastward from the City of Atlanta to North DeKalb Mall
    expressing a clear preference to be excluded from the currently proposed city
    and annexation maps. The neighborhoods
    of LaVista Park, Merry Hills, North Druid Hills, North Amanda Circle, Leafmore,
    and Laurel Ridge Shamrock are reluctant to make uninformed or hasty decisions
    about joining a city that could separate them from their neighborhood schools,
    parks, community centers and each other.
    Victoria Estates and Mason Mill residents made it clear in their surveys
    that a majority of them wish to remain unincorporated. Most groups conducted independent surveys
    recently and all reached similar conclusions, residents are concerned the
    important factors needed to make final decisions are not yet clear.

    These neighborhoods are long-established stable communities
    that have enjoyed decades of high achieving public schools, strong home values,
    good county services as-well-as proximity to valuable jobs and commercial
    centers. Surveys asking what city would
    be preferred if a municipal choice has to be made immediately came to different
    conclusions and the answers vary widely based on proximity to other boundaries,
    schools and commercial centers. Many
    residents prefer to not be in a city at all.

    During a public meeting early in December a resounding
    majority of LaVista Park, Merry Hills, and North Druid Hills expressed
    preference for deferring the decision to choose and many neighborhood residents
    signed petitions requesting a one or two year city formation moratorium. They asked for more time to retain qualified
    professionals to assess the real impacts of this deeply important decision that
    could impact everything from their real estate taxes, school choices, property
    values and elected representatives.

    The Georgia legislative session begins in January and a
    5-member special Boundary Arbitration Subcommittee of the Legislative
    Governmental Affairs Committee expects DeKalb county citizens to choose city
    referendum boundaries before the end of December, 2014. The neighborhoods held many meetings, met
    with elected officials and proposal supporters to gather information, but the
    issues and unresolved questions remain deeply complex. The normal process requires two years for
    impact and feasibility analysis but new city proposal has been given an abbreviated
    schedule and the boundaries are have not been finalized. The process annexation supporters have chosen
    can also be completed during 2015. Each
    community should be given time to determine consensus. It is unclear why the current new city and
    annexation proposals are being rushed when Tucker, Lakeside, and Briarcliff
    have been unable to reach an agreement within two years.

    LaVista Park, Merry Hills and North Druid Hills only learned
    in November that their neighborhoods were included in the boundaries of as many
    as three competing new city/annexation proposal maps—City of Atlanta, LaVista
    Hills and Brookhaven–which jumped its original legislative barrier of I-85 in
    early December to annex property up to Briarcliff Rd. Information about levels of service, taxes,
    school districts, policing, zoning and many other matters that would change
    under each of these City scenarios is not clear, and many of the neighborhoods
    have not been formally contacted by any of the proposed municipality

    Neighborhood civic
    leader comments:

    “The majority of the
    residents of Merry Hills are opposed to rushing into cityhood right now. They
    feel that in light of the many unresolved and unclear issues, the prudent
    approach would be to hold off and explore the financial viability of the
    proposed cities as well as the other complex issues.”

    Moshe Hiller, President, Merry Hills Homeowner Association.


    “Based on preliminary
    results of a LaVista Park survey, our neighborhood’s preference is to remain a
    part of unincorporated DeKalb. If that
    will not be possible, our survey does not indicate a majority preference for a
    particular annexation or incorporation plan.
    Brookhaven’s recent and rapid annexation of Executive Park has
    complicated our decision and our process.”

    Steve Richards,
    President, LaVista Park Civic Association, Dec. 18, 2014

    “A recent survey indicated that 83% of our
    residents wanted a moratorium on cityhood and annexation in order to evaluate a
    myriad of complex and rapidly changing variables. Competing proposals threaten to split our
    neighborhood into 2 or 3 different municipalities and to separate us from the
    commercial properties we have always considered part of our identity. “

    Martha Gross, Zoning and
    Land Use Chair, North Druid Hills Residents Association


    INCORPORATE! The Leafmore Creek Park
    Hills Civic Association Board of Directors states that our board members and
    many neighborhood residents herewith express their collective concern that the
    new city of Lavista Hills proposed boundaries continue to change and evolve,
    and are still not settled! This unresolved situation makes it impossible at
    this point in time for our residents to make a properly informed decision on
    whether to vote for or against this new city. The very recent annexations of
    Executive Park and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta into Brookhaven- two
    commercial areas that were also included in the Lavista Hills map- also
    contribute to economic uncertainty. We believe the prudent course for our
    neighborhood is to defer support for any city or annexation for at least one

    Approved on the 17th
    of December, 2014 by the Leafmore Creek Park Hills Board of Directors.
    Dan Wisenhunt, send a message with your e-mail address if you want our full press release with a map.

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