Senate passes cityhood measures for LaVista Hills and Tucker

Posted by March 25, 2015
Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Closeup of the Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Connor Carey. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This story has been updated.

The state Senate passed bills Wednesday allowing for the proposed cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker to move forward, according to a report from the AJC.

Now HB 520 and 515 return to the state House. The measures had previously passed there, but the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations (SLOGO) Committee made changes to the map, shifting 2,000 people in the Livsey precinct from Tucker into LaVista Hills, despite protests from Tucker cityhood representatives.

Before last week’s committee vote, State Senator Fran Millar, SD-40, told Decaturish, “The Livsey precinct will be in LaVista Hills. It will not be in Tucker. 2,000 people. I represent them. 80% of them want to be in LaVista Hills. That’s where I put them.”

Sen. Millar said on his Facebook page Wednesday, “Tucker and LaVista Hills passed in the Senate in a landslide–Hopefully the House will agree. The Senate has had enough of DeKalb County Government.”

State Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, was one of five appointed members who created a compromise map last year. After last week’s change, he released a statement saying, “I gave my word to the people of both city hood groups that I would not support changes to that line and I will be true to my word. The Legislative process is far from over but in their present form, I stand now opposed to both the LaVista Hills and Tucker bills.”

Tucker 2015 released a statement Wednesday afternoon that said, “Our bill passed the Senate floor with Sen. Millar’s boundary change amendment. We are still hopeful the House of Representatives will enforce the agreed to boundary when the cityhood bills go back to them later this week.”

LaVista Hills YES updated its Facebook page, asking supporters of HB 520 to email House members to ask them to support the measure. Last week, the group said of the SLOGO decision, “LaVista Hills YES did not request the map changes, but we respect the efforts by members of the General Assembly to make adjustments in response to their constituents.”

If the bills make it through the General Assembly, voters would decide on incorporation in a November referendum.

This story has been updated with the addition of Sen. Millar’s statement and the Tucker 2015 statement.


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  • Patrick S. Noonan

    The other issue with this map is the partition of the Medlock and Mason Mill neighborhoods, which now find themselves partly in, partly out. Direct negotiations between those neighborhoods and the LaVista Hills representatives went beautifully – there really was no contention at all in finding technical fixes to Sen.Millar’s borders that satisfied everyone – but Millar himself then refused to accept any amending language. His intransigence was surprising, given that he himself had said he would support border changes that satisfied everyone else.

    • RAJ

      Don’t think it was wise to go with two anti city democrats to negotiate with Fran at the end of the session. Just seems like a fool’s errand. Probably find some pro-cityhood neighbors after the bill passes to lend you a hand. Good luck!

      • Patrick S. Noonan

        We went with the only people willing to actually discuss these issues. Nobody else, certainly including Sen. Millar, give a flying frack about these neighborhoods.

        • notapunk

          And that obviously includes those who actually represent these neighborhoods.

          • Patrick S. Noonan

            Not sure what you mean here. In some cases “caring for one’s constituents’ neighborhood” is simply trumped by “not having political clout in the current legislature.” In other cases it’s a matter of the neighborhoods themselves being of two minds.

          • RAJ

            Check to see which side your bread is buttered on……then after the vote tomorrow work with the people who can help you change the map!

        • RAJ

          I care about these neighborhoods, having lived here since 1972. Our challenge is to convince some members of LVH that the proposed City Council District 6 is important to a new city’s future. You may vote NO at the polls 7 months from now based upon the evidence presented, however being relevant in the mean time IS important. I will have the data and precincts for district 6 from GIS soon, and will distribute the info to any interested party.

      • NotRaj

        Raj, what do your sources say about these bills passing this session? What about the annexation bills? As someone in an affected area, I’d hate to lose momentum on these things and be saddled with DeKalb for the rest of my life.

        • RAJ

          LVH & Tucker went to House this afternoon as I was leaving the Capitol. No stop in a committee, just an up or down vote, probably tomorrow. I will find out at 9:00AM Rules Committee meeting in the morning. Joint Atlanta/Dekalb Delegation meeting on Atlanta annexation canceled this morning….not a good sign…probably not going to make it this year. All other annexations highly questionable.

          • whodean

            The joint ATL/Dekalb meeting was cancelled because Dekalb has no say in the matter.

          • RAJ

            Yes ..Tucker/LaVista Hills will pass, probably tomorrow and delegation meeting cancellation was moot since House leadership would not let bill go forward without agreement by both delegations.

          • whodean

            By the way, LVH and Tucker WILL pass with the new boundary. Its a simple up/down in the House. There is no way it doesn’t garner 50%+1.

          • DHH

            I have to agree. LVH already crushed it in the house the first time around. Both of these cities will be on a ballot in November, at which point it’s anyone’s guess.

    • Guest

      Unfortunately if you lie with dogs, you get fleas. Millar is a flea-infested dog of the worst kind.

    • Stan Chapman

      I wish the legislature would go with boundaries of neighborhoods and not just precincts or census tracts, so that neighborhoods are not cut in two. I am sure that the last thing that LaVista Hills cityhood backers want is to incur the anger of neighborhood associations like Medlock and risk losing cityhood completely. Remember that Medlock (and Livsey, for that matter), are residential areas that themselves do not really add much to tax revenue versus costs.

  • Stan Chapman

    Absolutely right with regard to LVH leadership. I was at the meeting at which the Senate SLOGO committee unveiled the changes, and the LaVista Hills leaders (of which I am not one) were caught unaware and were reacting to the new map with surprise at the start of the meeting. I personally believe that the will of the people of Livsey, if it can be fairly ascertained, is more important than what any of the legislators decide.

    • MAC

      Stan, I too was at the SLOGO committee meeting one week ago today, last Thursday. As I saw it, it wasn’t so much that the SLOGO committee unveiled the changes to the map as Senator Millar pushing an amendment through his colleagues (fellow members of the Senate) to change the map. The LaVista Hills Yes leader (whose name you do not recall) was Allen Venet. And yes, I did hear his public statement that he knew nothing about the changes.
      Whether or not we agree that the LVH leadership truly didn’t know is a different matter. One could argue a difficulty in swallowing that the leadership would have NO CLUE about the introduction of a change to the map that yields a set of sum total benefits to LVH–the change not only aggregates 2000 residents to the LVH map from Tucker, but it also adds a coveted elementary school (Livsey) AND commercial property (Pittsburg Plaza and Tucker Square)–all originally drawn into Tucker’s boundaries by the House Subcommittee.
      But let’s not feed into speculation. Let’s give the LVH leadership the benefit of the doubt and accept that they didn’t know. Well, the fact is they know NOW, which leads to another crucial truth that is the controversial changes to the boundaries jeopardize the cityhood prospects for BOTH LVH and Tucker as the modified bills return to the House (because of the changes), with an already publically-expressed distaste for the changes by House members (see Rep. Brockway’s statement). Knowing what we all know now, the question is what is the LVH leadership going to do? Make a compromise that will satisfy the distaste of the House…or take a gamble and let the changes to the Livsey District ride, potentially dashing the cityhood dream this legislative session for Tucker and LVH supporters who have worked so hard to get this far?

      • guest2

        I’m pretty sure from looking at the map that Livesey Elementary is still in Tucker. They only took a couple of streets below the Evansdale attendance zone.
        If it gets killed, it will be due to the egos of the Senators and House members getting in the way, not the city representatives.

        • MAC

          If it gets killed, and I’ve said this before, it will be due to one side not sticking to the agreed-upon boundaries that came out of the House Subcommittee’s deliberations in December. Had the boundaries been left alone, with the Senate’s vote yesterday, it would have been a wrap for both groups and on to the November referendum.

          • HB

            One “side?” See above. This was Millar, not LVH.

            When Tucker wants changes made to remove/add neighborhoods, it’s called Representation. When the Evansdale *poeple* beg to be recognized for their preference (over the out of town legislators who created an arbitrary agreement), it’s Tyranny.

            Good neighbors don’t deny their other neighbors their rights. Put the shoe on the other foot and let’s attempt to be mature about this. What the people want should trump what politicians want, in the end.

          • HB

            And don’t worry, I’m done here. Time for this old boy to go hit a round or two before the cold snap comes. I urge everyone to adopt the same standards for themselves as they would have others do.

          • RAJ

            OK…just got back from the Capitol…..except for a Hail Mary, Atlanta annexation appears dead for this year and Tucker and LaVista Hills Bills may pass the House tomorrow. Maps(with data) are at the GIS Dept and are still subject to slight changes.

          • MAC

            No one is denying their neighbors their rights. The flaw at play here is the facile assumption that the will of a neighborhood composed of thousands of residents can be so easily and accurately discerned. But even that is one tangential point sprouting from the main point, which is the House Subcommittee drew a line in December for the express purpose of facilitating an avenue for cityhood for LVH and Tucker. The agreed-upon understanding from the drawing of the line was that some people who ended up on either side of wouldn’t be 100% happy with their placement–no matter how you crack it, someone is going to feel displeased and that their rights are not being considered. A less-than-perfect situation was (is) the necessary outcome to have an avenue of cityhood for both groups. The “rights” of a few, while important, shouldn’t derail the process for the many, which is what might happen here.

          • guest2

            It IS hard to discern what the will of a neighborhood is. Decatur Hts made it easy with a petition with 76% of their residents requesting to be in Decatur, not Avondale. In this case, Millar hasn’t specifically said how he discerned that, although he has made references to public meetings.
            I think your main point is what is wrong-headed. As long as both sides remain financially viable (which they do), agreements done in back rooms should be irrelevant to the will of the residents. What the people in Livesey want should be primary, not what the rest of Tucker or LaVista Hills wants.
            And if it fails, it will be because of pig-headed representatives and senators taking a my way or the highway approach instead of being reasonable. I don’t see either Millar or Brockaway being reasonable in this matter. Hopefully the rest of the senate and house will be and will work something out.

          • MAC

            Guest2, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the pig-headedness of our leaders and politicians. Where you and I differ is your insistence on making this issue about Livsey. The big picture is not about Livsey or any individual neighborhood contained within the boundaries of Tucker or LVH. The big picture is about achieving the quest for cityhood for the residents who have worked so hard and contributed so much to get. Anything that gets in the way of that greater goal should be the collective enemy of all stakeholders.

          • RAJ

            Look….I saw Fran today at the Capitol in the shadow of the marble stairway with a chiseled stone faced glare that I thought was priceless! This guy must be having so much fun he can hardly stand it!

          • HB

            Mac, have you forgotten that Tucker reneged on the 2014 compromise map? As justification, they claimed “well, we never liked that politician-penned agreement to begin with, so we declare it moot, as our citizens want otherwise.”

            With your reasoning, this was a “facile assumption” on Tucker’s part to claim knowing the true desires of their citizens, seeing as they never did a serious third-party poll.

            It’s disturbing to see such selective application of blame and rights, depending on what side originates an issue.

            I don’t trust either of the city groups, they are both playing politics. I’m hoping to open some eyes here–there is no white hat vs black hat here. But at least neither are as bad as Millar, the real king of the backdoor old-boy-network that holds our system hostage.

          • MAC

            HB, we’re beyond 2014 (besides that your question assumes that I’m a long-standing resident of Tucker, which I am not). Quite honestly, I have no knowledge of the historical baggage (or animosity) to which you continue to refer in your posts. There is an undercurrent of assumption that Tucker cityhood supporters collectively have a problem with our LVH neighbors, which is NOT the case. I am a resident, not a leader or a spokesperson for anyone.

            I have a genuine support for the cityhood movement in DeKalb County because I see the benefit of having more local control and influence in shaping my community. If my LVH neighbors, share that sentiment, I stand united with them as I do my Greehhaven and Stonecrest neighbors.

            All that said, we are were we are NOW and we need to work with what we have before us right now for the success of the cities. Getting stuck on what happened in 2014 or earlier doesn’t move anyone anywhere, and only perpetuates an absurd cycle of infighting that benefits no one.

          • HB

            Well it’s hardly was just a few months ago.
            My point is, to argue that we should accept the terms of the “original agreement” is a selective indignation. The 2014 compromise agreement is the original agreement. It had Lakeside getting all of ITP, and Tucker retaining more of their Henderson/Evansdale/OTP presence than on this latest “agreement.” (Which actually, as a longtime resident, made sense to me.)

            Now we have a third map in play. In the end, all were penned by politicians, and none based on scientific polls. So the venom and indignation being perpetrated from both the residents and the Tucker leadership on the forums is selective and disturbing. They literally called LVH people “slimy” “shameful” and “unethical.” Pretty tough words to use toward your neighbors when your group is doing the same exact thing. I admit, this is what gets my goat.

            I agree with you. How about we let them vote on where things are NOW, with the latest citizen-driven input in place, instead of a call to action (today on the Tucker cityhood page) to go back to the 2nd of 3 compromise maps.

  • Hugh Bean

    Hard to feel sympathy for Tucker. Somehow they can’t stop with the self-sabotage. According to a legislative newsletter from Sen Millar – who, regardless of what you think of his politics, is unfailingly honest – the Tucker budget surplus comes exclusively from the Stone Mountain
    industrial district, which wants no part of Tucker. (Pro tip: If you object to having your territory taken by others, then do not take territory from others.)

    I don’t blame Livsey residents for preferring to live in a full-service (and fully funded) city, either. If Tom Taylor’s stories about Dunwoody’s early days are correct, then a few months of paying DeKalb for police will destroy Tucker’s finances.

    • MAC

      Hugh, each proposed city has selected at least a minimum number of services required to qualify for cityhood. The long list of services that each group DIDN’T opt in to will still be provided by the County. The LVH Yes website states it clearly for its own cityhood proposal: “All other services would continue to be provided by DeKalb County.” Let’s keep in mind, in our state, the county provides upward of 20 categories of services. NONE of the proposed cities (LVH included) will provide MOST of these services, so the question is begged, why use the term “full service” to try to distinguish LVH from Tucker on the basis of the services that Tucker, in its own vision and conception of cityhood, chose to opt into?

      Certainly, supporters for one side or the other can argue a preference for a proposed city taking control of one set of services versus another, but be clear, this is NOT the same thing as saying that the group not choosing “A” or “THE” preferred service, therefore, isn’t FULLY serviced. That’s faulty logic. I assume you know this, and if you do, your statement intentionally feeds into that faulty logic. Further, the notion that Tucker’s finances will be more prone to “destruction” (your apocalyptic description) because it will continue to contract police services through DeKalb INSTEAD OF indebting itself to train and build a police department from scratch (while CONTINUING simultaneously to contract big ticket policing entities from the County like helicopters and SWAT, as LVH will STILL have to do), defies all reasonable logic. Perhaps you can enlighten us…or at least be more reasonable.

      Finally, sure, it’s posible for ANY of the proposed cities, if successful at referendum, to have buyers remorse down the road (there are implications that are difficult to glean on this side of the event), but this possibility doesn’t only apply to Tucker and Stonecrest. Given the strong and very salient opposition that we see within the LVH boundaries (i.e, TIA annexation and DeKalb Strong undercurrents) there’s an equally strong possibility that LHV won’t even pass its referendum. Who knows? Attempting to predict with any certainty how any or all of this will play out is an impossible exercise, an imprecise science at best.

      • whodean

        As a Brookhaven resident I can assure you any new Dekalb city is better off with their own police force than contracting the county for it.

  • HB – The concern is the decision of LaVista Hills to ignore the agreement the House said both sides must follow.

    Senator Millar may have started that charge with Representative Tom Taylor, but the LaVista Hills leadership team supports it. They are asking their supporters to email legislators, not in favor of the agreement they made in the House – the agreement that made their bill possible – but in favor of Senator Millar’s amended bill violating that agreement.

    Pointing that out is neither rumor, lie, false information, a dig, or passive aggressive.

    • HB

      Ok, you must be the fellow in question. Kudos for owning up and responding, I do respect that. But by all accounts, including the direct word of Elena Parent, LVH did indeed work with all the complaining neighborhoods to REVERSE the Millar decision, after his revised map surfaced. It was Millar who blocked the LVH/neighborhood attempt to work with the citizens and honor the agreement. Trying to paint LVH as a “backer” of it is disingenuous, ill-informed and comes off as unnecessary provocation. It would show far more character to recognize LVH’s efforts here, and share the disdain for Millar.

      Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think LVH are saints, nor always shows their hand, but the very same can be said for Tucker, and in a few cases, Tucker has proven themselves to be even less forthcoming with info for their citizens. For example, where is your charter? LVH leadership has never disparaged Tucker, but you guys do. Routinely.

      And of COURSE LVH is urging passage of the current bill, despite disappointments in Millar and despite their efforts to reverse his map. How can you publicly shame them for that when Tucker is doing the exact same thing? For the same reason: both have invested lots of money. Ultimately they both just want some local control. Both want a city, and know that even with these awkward boundaries, it’s better than losing the whole game. It’s not ok to purport a double standard like this, nor put out what really is false information, hoping most of the housewives will just take your word on it. Simply put, it’s a tactic you don’t need to take if your plan has merit.

      • HB

        Has Tucker leadership ever publicly disavowed or chastised their followers who routinely disparage LVH citizens (yes, the people, not the leadership or groups)–just for living in LVH territory–or for neighbors wanting to have police protection and thus join what they perceive to be a more compatible community of interest? No? If not, then by your reasoning above, you are *supporting* this behavior. You are *backing* the attempts at class warfare.

        See how that works?

      • Thanks, HB. In the Senate committee meeting there was discussion between Senator Parent and Senator Millar on the southern boundary of the LaVista Hills map. That’s a different issue than the line with Tucker.

        If you have evidence that LaVista Hills made “efforts to reverse [Millar’s] map” on the border with Tucker I would love to see it. Nothing would be more pleasing at this point than to correct my comments and share widely that the LaVista Hills leadership team wants to honor their commitment to House leaders and the community. I mean that sincerely.

        Tucker 2015 supports the conditions of the House, including the right for residents to vote on the incorporation of LaVista Hills.

        If you would like to see the City of Tucker Charter, it’s part of the Tucker bill (HB515) and is available on the House website.

        • HB

          Both Sen. Elena Parent and the Mason Mill community have confirmed this. LVH has also posted many times on thier public FaceBook page that their efforts to reverse the Millar changes have been ignored, and that they support the citizen voices. This serves as a public stance.

          You seem intent to infuse innuendo and speculation into their motives, and while this may or may not be true, it is a really bad move on the part of a leadership council. You, as one of the official voices of Tucker2015, should be the one holding for factual discourse, on ALL sides, if only for retaining your own high level reputation. As it is, and failing taking a public stance calling for facts-only, you are coming of, well, a little defensive at best and a little childish at worst. If there are egregious actions being taken, they will arise on their own. But pushing less-than-factual statements to raise hackles is not reflecting well. You guys might have even had the moral superiority you claim, but this has been forfeited now with these speculative remarks.

          • HB- I think you may have misunderstood my comment. I agreed with you about the discussion with Senator Parent and the southern portion of the LaVista Hills map. That discussion appears to be on going. That’s a good thing.

            What I haven’t seen is a call to back down on the line expanding into more of Tucker. Not attempting to argue, but I am not seeing what you are claiming.

            I checked the LaVista Hills Facebook page after reading your reply and didn’t see anything about reversing changes to the map in Tucker.

            Will you please quote and attribute the comments you’re seeing from the LaVista Hills leadership?

            As I said in my previous reply, if I am
            in error about this I am more than happy to say so. Everyone makes mistakes and if I’ve made one here I’ll own it.

          • HB

            OK, different issues here. My intent wass to clear through the speculation and confusion — not to add to it! So, now that we’re on the same page. It sounds like neither you or I know if LVH has issued any statements on the Tucker issue one way or another. But if we are going to play the speculation-as-fact game, sure, let’s follow this through.

            IF they didn’t, and we assume they are in it to win it, it would most certainly be because they believe this area in question (Evansdale) wants in–that they will garner a majority of LVH YES votes from that area. (The very opposite reason I hear they never wanted Medlock or Mason Mill — because they believe those are NO vote neighborhoods.) So, IF Evansdale is a YES vote area–meaning the majority residents prefer LVH over Tucker — why is Tucker trying to deny them that? Smacks of eminent domain.

            I personally don’t see how Evansdale has much to do with the Toco Hill area, and think it’d be a fine fit for Tucker. But I don’t live there. I just know I’d be angry if some group in Evansdale was petitioning against letting my neighborhood do what it wants. I’d be saying, who the heck do these people think they are, trying to control other people and their property just because they “want it” ? And you can bet those people would then be dealing with one loud, P.O.’ed veteran.

  • MAC

    HB, for months I’ve been following these cityhood conversations very closely. I’ve read Mr. Lee’s posts, which have consistently struck me as balanced, intelligent, and in support of the cityhood success of BOTH Tucker and LVH. I think he’s wise enough to make a distinction between LVH supporters and the LVH leadership. Personally, I wish for the success of both group’s cityhood efforts, though many find it hard to believe that the LVH leadership had no knowledge about or and in the changes to the boundaries that came out of last week’s SLOGO Committee meeting.

  • Reasonable40

    Let the people decide. 2,000 people want to be in a more full service city. I don’t blame the 2,000 for wanting to be in Lavista Hills. Cityhood will improve the profile of both Lavista Hills and Tucker. This higher profile will be good for both areas. Developers and many businesses have forgotten about these areas and perceive that they are old and already developed. The fact is that these areas have been on the rise for many years and are ripe for redevelopment and investment. City hood will also help these areas to be able to pay for management that will have concerted effort to bring investment and services back to the area. It is a shame that developers see more value in areas like Cumming that can take an hour and a half to drive to the city. It is high time Tucker and Lavista Hills rise up and be recognized as the great, convenient areas they are to live.

  • RAJ

    Sorry…..Both bills were stapled together by Fran, went to the House, and as of 1:30PM this afternoon were waiting in line for a vote on Tuesday according to FM.

    • JKUP

      Tucker came up for a vote today, but Rep. Taylor voted to table the Bill.

      • RAJ

        Bill’s sponsor brought up bill over map change? This does not look good for Tucker! Rep Taylor only voted in favor?

        • JKUP

          Rep Mitchell introduced the Bill and withdrew his support because of map change. Rep Taylor motioned to table the bill and the house voted to table the bill.

          • RAJ

            This does not look good for Tucker or LVH, my info is only good till1:30PM yesterday. Any further updates or what you think may happen Tuesday?

  • Stan Chapman

    I agree with HB re. LVH leadership. Sometimes the leadership can only do so much to influence the outcome of legislation, and I know that LVH had been working with Medlock and Mason Woods in good faith to avoid splitting their neighborhood. The whole thing might have been avoided if metes and bounds map-drawing could have been done and/or if the House subcommittee had not taken Toco Hill and North DeKalb Mall out of the LVH map. As often happens when emotions run high, there has been an excess of name-calling and accusations. By the way, my kudos go to Decaturish for excellent and unbiased reporting on cityhood/annexations throughout this legislative term.

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