Atlanta annexation proposal looms large in cityhood debate

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt April 17, 2015
Left to right: Peter Noonan, DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook, and Robin Lee Fitch look over maps for the proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills during a voter information meeting held on April 16. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

Left to right: Peter Noonan, DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook, and Robin Lee Fitch look over maps for the proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills during a voter information meeting held on April 16. Photo by Dan Whisenhunt

This story has been updated. 

A proposal to annex Druid Hills into Atlanta failed in the Legislature this year, but discussion about it was alive and well during a voter information meeting on April 16.

The event, held at Clairmont Hills Church, drew about 100 people. There was no official representation from groups in support of the proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills.

When asked for his take on some of the information presented during the meeting, LaVista Hills Yes Chairperson Allen Venet said, “I cannot comment on something I have not seen. I can say that we at LaVista Hills YES were thrilled that an enthusiastic crowd packed our volunteer meeting this past Monday.” The city of Tucker movement did not provide any statement regarding the meeting.

But the meeting, called by opposition group DeKalb Strong, devoted a significant amount of time to the Atlanta annexation proposal. The meeting was called primarily discuss cityhood referendums for Tucker and LaVista Hills, but Atlanta annexation came up again and again during the meeting.

“New cities do not have a direct effect on the school system,” DeKalb Strong President Marjorie Snook said. “If Atlanta annexes Druid Hills High School, that affects all of us. For all of us, we should fight against the notion that municipalization is inevitable, because an inevitable municipalization of our county is bad for our school systems.”

Bills calling for referendums on both cities did make it through the 2015 legislative session. The Atlanta annexation proposal died for lack of support in the Legislature.  As Snook pointed out, the Tucker and LaVista Hills cityhood proposals would have no effect on school attendance zones. All schools in the proposed new cities would remain in DeKalb County Schools.

And yet, Trenton Arnold, Regional Superintendent for the DeKalb County School System, was there fielding questions about the failed Atlanta annexation proposal. If the proposal had succeeded, it potentially would’ve brought Druid Hills High, as well as Fernbank and Briar Vista elementary schools, into Atlanta’s public school system. That would’ve disrupted the school feeder pattern for other schools that feed into Druid Hills High: Avondale Elementary, Laurel Ridge Elementary, McLendon Elementary and Druid Hills Middle School. The annexation would’ve also brought Emory University into the city of Atlanta.

So why all the concern about an annexation proposal that won’t even be on the ballot this year? Snook said that the success or failure of LaVista Hills in November could determine whether the Atlanta annexation proposal resurfaces next year.

“If LaVista Hills is created, I do not think we can stop Atlanta annexation,” Snook said. “We find when people come to these events people want to talk about schools. If you don’t address that issue, they are unhappy. That is the biggest concern of a lot of people. Atlanta annexation will likely come back, I think it will come back much stronger if LaVista Hills gets created. It’s dead in the water if these cities fail.”

Venet does not believe one success of one cityhood proposal will determine whether the Atlanta annexation will be successful.

“None of us has a working crystal ball allowing us to predict future actions of the Georgia General Assembly, or the existing cities, but I personally believe that the assumption is false,” he said. “Except for the relatively small areas of overlapping maps, the cityhood and annexation proposals each stand – or fall – on their own merits. There is absolutely no reason to think that defeat of LaVista Hills would reduce the chances for future annexations by existing cities, and every reason to think that defeat of LaVista Hills will lead to greater annexation activity.”

Attorney Doug Dillard, who specializes in zoning and land use, spoke during the meeting. Dillard said new cities are great for his business because zoning conflicts create more work for his practice. But he said what’s good for him may not be in the best interest of the county.

“The more arbitrary and capricious decisions I can get, the better off I am,” he said. “The problem is we need more government like we need a hole in the head.”

He questioned whether Atlanta could take over those schools if an annexation occurred.

“The city of Atlanta wants to take the residential property of Druid Hills because of the high value of real estate in that area,” Dillard said. “It’s being driven as I understand it by Emory and a handful of folks who think that the school system can go to the city of Atlanta. The city of Atlanta, just because they have the right to have a school system, can’t come in like vigilantes and take over the schools.”

The political back and forth over the LaVista Hills and Tucker proposals is just getting started.

John Bliss attended Thursday’s meeting because he received a robo call asking questions about the proposed city of LaVista Hills. He is in the city’s proposed boundaries.

“It starts off, ‘Are you for or against?’ I said I’m against. It said, ‘Even if taxes don’t go up?’ I said I’m against,” Bliss said. “It kept getting worse and worse. It was leading the answer they want to get from the survey. I’m curious where’s the funding is coming from for these robo calls.”

Other residents who are in the proposed map for the city LaVista Hills have reported receiving similar calls. Venet said the calls aren’t being funded by LaVista Hills YES.

“I received a telephone poll myself, but we do not know who commissioned the poll,” he said.

About Dan Whisenhunt

Dan Whisenhunt is editor and publisher of Decaturish.com. https://www.linkedin.com/in/danwhisenhunt

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  • Stan Chapman

    Tying in LaVista Hills cityhood with Atlanta annexation does not make sense to me. Given that cityhood for LaVista Hills does not affect the schools, there are very different issues regarding cityhood vs. annexation. Furthermore, there appeared to be very little support for Atlanta annexation in the state legislature this year. Why would next year be different? If someone lives in the LaVista Hills map and wants to avoid Atlanta annexation, the best strategy would be to vote “yes” for LaVista Hills’ cityhood, and then Atlanta can never annex you.

    • DHer

      Near the end of the session a bill was introduced that would allow the DCSS and APS to form at intergovernmental agreement. If annexation by Atlanta was approved by voters, this IGA could permit APS to provide education services to students who live outside the City of Atlanta. This process provides a mechanism to keep the cluster in tact. It would not be permanent, but it could solve some of the challenges and objections. APS and ATL are on a much better path than DeKalb and its school system.

      • m2ap

        Wow, really? The news from DeKalb is good — teachers raises, one step closer to accreditation. Yet APS is going to cut music and arts. Sorry, don’t agree with your viewpoint.

        • DHer

          The news from DeKalb is good? What are you smoking? One step closer accreditation? How did we get in that position? Crawford Lewis plea deal, convictions of Reid and Pope, governor dismisses BoE, in the face of average performing school (DHHS) there is continued rejection of charter school concept, halting to inept search for new superintendent that includes a community group comprised of mostly lackluster members and one convicted felon (John Evans). Now let’s talk about the good news coming from DeKalb County government…Come on. There is a “work around” these problems and it includes annexation and an IGA with a more responsive school system.

          • m2ap

            My point is that DeKalb schools are on the upswing. Let’s not ignore the fact that APS is cutting its budget everywhere — several schools will no longer have art and music. And how about the ATL mayor and APS superintendent duking it out over funds for school buildings and the Beltline? That’s the present. If you want to go to history, let’s talk about the APS wide cheating scandal that only last week made national news. And ATL govt — Bill Campbell? So your original point that APS are on a much better path are certainly made with rose colored glasses. Excuse me if those of us who are not in the annexation zone but would be forced to go to APS through an IGA would feel like we are jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

          • DHer

            Bill Campbell is the 3 mayors ago history. Since them are scandal free Shirley Franklin and Kassim Reed. Not perfect, but quantum improvements in leadership over anybody DeKalb has ever elected to CEO. As were Andy Young and Maynard Jackson.
            Did you see yesterday’s announcement that Kaiser Permenente is locating 900 jobs in Midtown. When was the last company to open an office in unincorporated Dekalb? No, we are definitely on fire in DeKalb. There is no frying pan.

          • Jan Atlanta

            DHer is correct. Chris Clark, GA Chamber of Commerce, has stated that it will be 10 years before any large influential companies will relocate to DeKalb County. Those who did so in recent years had been in the pipeline. The issue – DeKalb County School System. Mercedes was lost to Sandy Springs for that reason.
            You can argue that creation of cities is a cop-out, will harm the sacred “County” and to insulate residents – if you are of that mindset, no amount of persuasion is likely to change your mind. While new cities aren’t divorcing DeKalb, they are creating a more positive, forward thinking solution than the County. Jason Lary, Stonecrest will agree with that. Too bad for them that they were doomed by their South DeKalb reps who were more concerned about who would get credit for the bill’s passage than they were for their own constituents.

          • Susan In NoMansLand

            Sandy Springs also is not in APS. Your Mercedes argument does not prove that APS is better than DeKalb. It proves that Fulton is better than both. What’s your point? APS schools are in roughly the same shape as DeKalb, but at least with DeKalb your students would get to keep the teachers you rave about at Fernbank.

          • Jan Atlanta

            Not sure what your point is Susan. I haven’t mentioned APS or teachers at Fernbank. My point is that DeKalb is a no-go for corporate relocations as long as the DCSS is in the state it is in.

          • Susan In NoMansLand

            My point is that APS is no better off than DCSD, and your trying to prove annexation into Atlanta by referencing Sandy Springs, which is neither in DCSD nor APS is illogical. If you’re talking about where corporations choose to relocate based upon schools, then realize that corporations are not relocating to the City of Atlanta, either. The City of Atlanta can’t even manage to hang on to their own baseball team. Will Druid Hills becoming part of Atlanta bring corporations back from North Fulton & Cobb? Doubt it. So, what is YOUR point? Annexation into Atlanta will not improve DCSD, nor will it improve the schools that suddenly find themselves in APS. If your desire is to improve DCSD to attract more business, how does annexation fix the problems?

            And my “you” was in general, not you specifically. Many people who have stated pro-annexation viewpoints in recent months have made the argument that their schools will be better off in APS. They forget that the teachers will not go with the school buildings (nor will the library books of computers or anything else — just the empty building.)

          • Jan Atlanta

            Susan, you’ve got me mixed up with someone else. I’ve never commented on APS or annexation.

          • Susan In NoMansLand

            My dearest Jan,

            1) Please scroll up to the top of the article & re-read the headline. If that’s too much trouble, here it is: “Atlanta annexation proposal looms large in cityhood debate.” This entire discussion is about annexation. Ergo, your comments can be inferred to be part of the annexation discussion.

            2) If you have paid attention to the annexation discussions that have been going on for months, then you would know that the APS/DCSD debate is an integral part of the annexation discussion. If only a few Historic Druid Hills residential streets were being annexed, then the Historic Druid Hills people could bring up whatever issues they would like. However, since the annexation map was originally drawn to include Druid Hills High School, Fernbank Elementary, & Briar Vista Elementary, the issues of annexation & schools cannot be separated. As the months have gone on, the map was expanded to include even more schools & their attendance zones precisely because schools are a huge part of the debate. Whether or not you specifically mentioned “APS” or “annexation” is irrelevant & both are part of the topic of discussion for this thread, which is about annexation.

            3) YOU, Jan, brought schools into the discussion when you commented on DCSD: “The issue – DeKalb County School System. Mercedes was lost to Sandy Springs for that reason.”

            4) Since the topic of discussion is Atlanta annexation, and since YOU, Jan, mentioned DCSD, I simply pointed out that bringing Sandy Springs & Mercedes into the conversation about Atlanta is a logical fallacy. I have already tried to explain the flawed logic of YOUR mentioning of Mercedes going to Sandy Springs (Fulton County Schools) when the topic for discussion is “Atlanta annexation proposal looms large in cityhood debate,” and therefore APS, not Fulton County Schools.

            5) You are not the only person participating in this discussion, so I was not only trying to connect the dots for YOU, Jan, but for OTHERS reading the discussion, as well. Please read the other comments & see that OTHERS have mentioned APS. Again, you’ll have to scroll up. I’m not going to copy & paste all the comments because there are too many. But in this particular thread, Atlanta annexation & APS have been mentioned throughout. Your comment on DCSD & Sandy Springs/Mercedes is part of that thread. I pointed out that your comment has no bearing on the DCSD/APS debate.

            6) You’re giving me a migraine. I’m not going to continue to try to explain this to you again. Please don’t bait me further. Thanks.

          • Jan Atlanta

            Whoa. It appears that not being included in a cityhood or annexation proposal makes someone somewhat “hawkish”.

          • Bernie

            Stonecrest is far from doomed. It is backed by the state senator whose district includes Stonecrest, and it passed the Senate almost unanimously. At the end of the recent session it was waiting for consideration by the House, and will have that status when the next session begins in January. Four members of the DeKalb House delegation from the Stonecrest – Lithonia area have already indicated their support in writing.

          • Jan Atlanta

            Bernie, you are right, Stonecrest will be the next to have a referendum. They were doomed in the most recent session by the reps who couldn’t agree which name should go first on the bill.

          • Bernie

            Thaaks, Jan Atlanta. I would say that issues over sponsorship of the House bill contributed to delay of that bill, rather than doomed it. There was no such problem with the parallel Senate bill. Stonecrest supporters did experience considerably more difficulty was getting the attention of legislators from outside the Stonecrest/Lithonia area. Many of them were slow to acknowledge the existence of grassroots efforts to municipalize predominantly African-American areas of DeKalb County. For certain legislators from North Central DeKalb, the prospect of Stonecrest and Greenhaven may have been difficult to accept because it undermined their arguments that creating LaVista Hills and Tucker would negatively impact the Stonecrest and Greenhaven areas.

          • guest2

            Why is Stonecrest not annexing into Lithonia? It would control the expanded city. Lithonia’s desired annexation is almost identical to Stonecrest.

          • Bernie

            Good question. First, Lithonia is a traditional, full-service city. For example, it has its own police force. In contrast, the Stonecrest City Alliance wishes to focus, at least initially, on zoning, code enforcement, economic development, and parks.
            Second, the Stonecrest City Alliance has already obtained a favorable feasibility sturdy. Lithonia has no study to show whether annexation is feasible, and cannot afford to pay for one. The City is almost broke, and cannot even afford to pay for bottled water at City meetings. The residents and businesses of the Stonecrest area would not consent to annexation without a feasibility study.
            Third, the City of Lithonia does not desire annexation. Only the Mayor has expressed interest in annexation. In October 2014 the City Council voted against paying for a feasibility study and decided against annexation. The City Council speaks for Lithonia, not the Mayor.

          • guest2

            Thanks. I noticed that the Lithonia proposed annexation map is now, “File not found.”

          • notapunk

            Ah yes, Andy “I hate historic buildings, give me chrome and glass highrises” Young. Glenridge Hall wouldn’t have survived the Young Administration if it had been in Atlanta.

          • MediateIt

            Glenridge Hall didn’t survive the Sandy Springs administration, and now the mayor and city council are considering giving a tax break to the developer of the Glenridge property in exchange for providing some “affordable” housing in the development for those unfortunate Mercedes Benz employees moving here from NJ who allegedly cannot otherwise afford to live in Sandy Springs. Really?! City politics at it’s finest.

          • guest2

            Yes, Mayor Franklin who had the city on the verge of bankruptcy before Mayor Reed took on the employee unions and cut the pensions she had raised. DeKalb is the frying pan. Atlanta is the grease fire.

          • DHer

            Atlanta voters just approved $250 million bond program to make infrastructure improvements – sidewalks, intersections, bike lanes, parks and buildings. Accomplished without a tax increase. Reinvestment in neighborhoods is widespread. Some of the most dangerous neighborhoods twenty years ago are being transformed into walkable mixed use communities. The Beltline will stimulate reinvestment in every neighborhood it touches. Financially the city is better positioned with a growing tax base and dynamic economic development program. This is the right time for annexation, and Atl will take every neighborhood that wants in: black, white, brown, rich, poor, residential or commercial.

          • Dustier

            What’s that bill number? Or was that just a dream.

          • DHer

            I don’t know the bill number. The concept has been discussed and it will come back around in the next session.

          • guest2

            And it will not be passed and even if so, it will be a very short term temporary fix.
            It makes no sense.

          • MediateIt

            HR.743 (sponsored by Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver) and SR.609 (sponsored by Sen. Elena Parent) created study committees in the House and Senate. Both passed.

          • Marjorie Snook

            That was a study committee to study the annexation cityhood process. Not an bill to create an IGA for Atlanta and DeKalb.

          • MediateIt

            Those two bills for study committees related to the Atlanta annexation were the only ones that passed this Session. There were no bills introduced, much less passed, that focus on an intergovernmental agreement between APS and DCSS. If some assurance of an intergovernmental agreement is what LVH is counting on to calm the nerves of residents in the DHSS cluster, they need to let that go. It’s not happenin’.

          • guest2

            And how many years were the APS educators sentenced for?
            How much APS money is Mayor Reed refusing to send them because he wants to spend it on parks?
            How many deeds is Atlanta holding up keeping APS from selling property?

      • Fairy Dust

        What’s that bill number?

        • MediateIt

          There is no bill number for a study committee on an intergovernmental agreement. There are House and Senate study committees on annexation, municipalization and incorporation (HR 743 and SR 609), but nothing focused on the schools.

      • Susan In NoMansLand

        “It would not be permanent.” Exactly why it isn’t a true solution.

        • DHH

          How many years = permanent? What’s a reasonable number? 5-10 years seems most pragmatic. Maybe stretch it to 15, with some provisions for changing enrollment patterns.

          • Susan In NoMansLand

            I think permanent = permanent. So, it isn’t a solution.

          • DHH

            Impermanence is a universal truth. Fighting against it causes much misery and suffering.

    • Marjorie Snook

      And then you might be cut off from your school.

      As unincorporated DeKalb becomes less and less viable, it increases the pressure to municipalize the whole county, and Emory and Druid Hills has made it clear they have zero interest in these new cities. What we need to do is stand up and say we support unincorporated DeKalb, and everyone being jammed into some city or another is not inevitable.

    • Russell Carleton

      You have to go a few steps deeper to see the connections. Suppose that LaVista Hills and Tucker both incorporate. It leaves the area that had been proposed for annexation (near DHHS) as a bit of an unincorporated island. Given that this area has already stated its preference to become part of Atlanta, it’s not unreasonable to think that they would take up that cause again. The state doesn’t like unincorporated islands, and so might be a little more amenable to the idea of annexation, even though no one quite knows what happens to the Dekalb School system if those schools are suddenly within the city of Atlanta. Maybe they can work out some sort of work-around to keep the Druid Hills cluster together. Maybe. That would probably put a lot more people at ease.

      But the most obvious possibility, that those schools would suddenly become property of APS, means that Dekalb Schools would either need to re-district or come up with a really clever plan to minimize the chaos. Geographically, in the school districts/neighborhoods left behind, some of those kids would have to be re-zoned into Lakeside (which is where most of the LVH area is zoned for), which is already above capacity. To compensate, elementary schools that currently feed into Lakeside would be shifted to other high school zones.

      So, you are technically correct when you say that the referendum itself doesn’t directly affect the schools, but you have to see all of the dominoes. The LaVista Hills referendum is the first domino. If it gets pushed, it probably pushes the second and third and fourth. That’s why someone who might not live anywhere near the propose annexation area might worry about annexation. If someone is concerned about their school zoning, and that probably includes a lot of people, you have to think about not only what incorporation itself does, but what else it sets into motion.

      • guest2

        #1 The remainder would not be an island at all. Its a substantial area.
        #2 Every neighborhood in the proposed annexation area that has had a survey has preferred staying in unincorporated DeKalb to Atlanta-LaVista Park, Druid Hills and Medlock (in their first survey in November).
        There may be a referendum next year, but LaVista Hills passing or failing is irrelevant to it.

        • Russell Carleton

          I do wonder though whether those neighborhoods would be whistling the same tune if everyone else around them was incorporated.

      • RAJ

        Russell, you are about 95% correct, guest2, about 95% incorrect. We all have more or less information and more or less processing ability. Same for me. I spent three days a week for 10 weeks at the Capitol during the session mostly listening to the key players on city-hooh and annexation and have been involved in this movement in NCD since the beginning. So What! My view is that Atlanta annexation is relentless(a given)because MMO and EP plan to use the Summer for a series of meetings with joint House-Senate committees to bend the rules in advance of the 2016 legislative session. Black people and Red Pols don’t like this, but they do not normally make a good team! So tossup in the next legislature for Atlanta annexation. But wait! What if? LVH passes(50-50)the annexation is smaller, if it fails annexed area is larger. Schools…..take your pick! Smaller annexation may mean that DHS stays in the cluster and FE and FSC go to Atlanta…a minor loss, although people like DB would disagree. An LVH failure at the polls in November would be catastrophic for DCSS with $100’s of millions in school property going to Atlanta,and all manor of redistricting with a new school super coming on board….not good. In discussions with DCSS rep Thur night this was very clear. DS is conflicted on this issue and is confusing it’s base because there is NO option for this area to remain unincorporated…NONE, PERIOD! My usual dis claimer: I’m closer to LVH than ever(see my yard signs)but not an”official”member of the group!

        • DHH

          DHS can’t stay in Dekalb if Emory goes to Atlanta. The school district owns the building (with a trust agreement and a kick out clause). Emory owns the land underneath and the air rights. Emory owns nearly 100% of the houses on that stretch of N Decatur Rd and is actively trying to get easements from the owners of the other houses so that they can build bike lanes along N Decatur (inside of the sidewalks). They are actively lobbying for light rail along that stretch (Clifton Corridor Medline). I don’t seem them letting the county operate a high school in that area that would exclude their own faculty’s kids and which would make traffic more congested in that area.

          On the other hand it would be possible to keep the cluster together through an intergovernmental agreement. People outside of the annexation area have not warmed to the idea of an IGA out of fear that it would not be permanent. But nothing’s permanent anyway.

          • RAJ

            Don’t know who you are, but can’t thank you enough….Don B tells me to go back to school, but I’m too old and besides you can be my teacher anytime. My discussion Thur night with the DCSS Rep was DeKalb Schools would lease DHS for three years if LVH referendum passes and Atlanta annexes Emory + while BHS was being rebuilt at the corner of Briarcliff and N. Druid Hills, DCSS already owns the property. Adams stadium remains with sky boxes etc. About $100M for an OK high school these days(less sports facilities)which would be built from $40M LVH park bond money…..no problem here HL and I have already projected enough park money from a faux CVI study too take care of this plus a three and five year park plan compatible with the county master plan. Some redistricting necessary, but everyone comes out happy. I promise to be more responsible in my posting, but you know I just I can’t resist this. While sitting at the table the other night a mother with hopes of her son attending DHS said”DHS is just SO historic etc”…my reply..I was a freshman at a Mission style Torrance High,Ca school in 1954 that my mother graduated from in 1937. My mother’s mother reminded my mother that there was from time to time “bad elements” at school ,when the janitor was caught selling “weed” to the kids out of the basement! Hope history is not repeating it’s self!

          • Russell Carleton

            If that all comes to pass, that would make a lot of people happy.

          • RAJ

            I’m working on it with EP, MMO, LVHY, DCSS and anyone else I can round up. Guess I’ll have to make some more maps!

    • MediateIt

      I am not in the LaVista Hills map, so I cannot vote for or against it in the referendum. But if LVH becomes a city, I promise you that I will be forced to vote in an Atlanta annexation referendum next year. Druid Hills HS, Fernbank Elementary and Briar Vista Elementary are not in the LVH boundaries and Atlanta wants them – badly! Emory wants to be in Atlanta. If LVH fails, the entire area can remain unincorporated. If LVH succeeds, Atlanta will throw everything it has into annexing the area between LVH and its current city limits, and if they succeed the DeKalb County school system will be faced with a major budget cut and countywide redistrictiing. Don’t kid yourself – LVH and Atlanta annexation are joined at the hip. The success of one will lead to the success of the other and have a significant financial impact on the county.

      • Stan Chapman

        Quite a few students now attending Briar Vista Elementary are in the proposed LVH map. If LVH becomes a city, Atlanta annexation could be even more difficult to justify; more splitting of school zones would have to occur, making it harder for Atlanta to make the case for annexation. As it is, Avondale is already an incorporated city, which has made it impossible for Atlanta to try to annex the entire Druid Hills cluster, given that Avondale students are in the cluster.

        • Susan In NoMansLand

          My neighborhood only joined the Atlanta annexation map at the very end of the legislative session, and it was completely in response to LVH not including us in their map & not wanting to lose Druid Hills High. I pray that LVH is defeated so that my neighborhood can remain unincorporated. You may not see the connection, but those of us in No Man’s Land certainly do.

  • Consequences

    Incorrect Stan. Incorporation of the area forces other neighbors to seek refuge in Atlanta. At the end, this group doesn’t suffer. The newly incorporated city suffers with higher taxes and weaker schools. Voting NO on the city proposal is the best strategy until a long term solution can be found.

    • Observer

      Oh let’s be real. That crowd is Hellbent on annexing into Atlanta whether LaVista Hills passes or not. It’s disingenuous at best to try to link the two.

      • m2ap

        True, but the difference is if LaVista Hills is voted down and the area remains unincorporated, the legislature will remain less inclined to allow the annexation. LaVista Hills gives the Atlanta annexation crowd the validity of wanting not to be an unincorporated island, which is not allowed. So the annexation would receive more support in the General Assembly.

        • notapunk

          If LaVista Hills is voted down: Tucker takes the rest of Northlake commercial and as much of Lawrenceville Hwy. ITP as it can get; Atlanta gets its neighborhoods and more (including North DeKalb Mall); and Brookhaven expands its foothold on the other side of I-85, taking the $1.5 million McMansions and all those other properties that are simply McMansions-in-waiting. Everybody else is screwed.

          • Russell Carleton

            Would now be a good time to point out that we all could have gone a little slower and figured this all out before it became a grab-fest?

          • notapunk

            It would be a grabfest anytime. We’re a varied, some-might-say-dysfunctional lot. It’s true today. It will be true one-year, five-years, 10 years from now.

          • Russell Carleton

            The sad thing is you’re probably right.

          • Jan Atlanta

            Brookhaven’s annexation was the catalyst for the hurry up and get this done. See post above.

          • MediateIt

            Yes, and every day hereafter.

          • MAC

            Your prediction about Tucker’s expansion aspirations (should LVH fail) sounds like alarmist conjecture. It is also predicated on the assumption that Tucker’s referendum will pass. LVH failing and Tucker passing IS an interesting (and conceivable) scenario, nonetheless. I grant you that much. The $64,000 question come Nov. 3 is will those LVH aspirants fearful of a perceived prospect of being “screwed” outweigh (and out vote) the steady and organized opposition mounting against LVH? At the end of the day, the survival of LVH will come down to that question.

          • Jan Atlanta

            MAC, it’s not conjecture. The not reported news is that Steve Henson lobbied hard to get more ITP property (Rehoboth area) into final map. Tucker wants all of Northlake ITP, Henderson Mill and Embry Hills. The “nice sweet Tucker” story is a fairy tale.

          • MAC

            Jan, who said anything about “nice sweet Tucker”? You put that phrase in quotes as if someone made such an utterance with respect to Tucker. I sure didn’t. There’s nothing nice and sweet about any of this business! Steve Henson doesn’t represent the voice of the Tucker cityhood movement. He’s a senator whose actions reflect the will of his constituents. For the sake of argument, let’s say that “Tucker wants” all that you say they want. Fine. But what “Tucker wants” really matters ONLY if there are any doubts that LVH can pull a successful referendum. If LVH wins its referendum, what “Tucker wants” (if that’s indeed what it wants), is a moot anyway.

          • Jan Atlanta

            MAC, the “nice sweet Tucker” myth has been chronicled the last 3 years in media accounts, FB posts, etc. Wide-eyed Penkava and astonished Auman, aghast at big bad LaVista Hllls taking what they espoused belonged to Tucker.

          • notapunk

            DISorganized opposition. Now they’re talking “consolidation.” Defeatist on its face. Screwed? Not my neighborhood. We have high value homes and desirable schools. No fear here. We have options.

          • Stan Chapman

            I have little doubt that Brookhaven will annex Target (no vote needed) and someone (Atlanta?) will try to annex Toco Hill if LVH fails. However, I do disagree with the idea that people in the LVH map will vote “yes” in the referendum mainly because they are afraid of being screwed if they don’t. Many of my neighbors and I will vote “yes” because we believe that local government is likely to be more responsive to local needs and would be an improvement over the kind of governance we have experienced with unincorporated DeKalb County, whose track record speaks for itself. By the way, wouldn’t it be good if someone did a scientific survey of residents of Brookhaven and Dunwoody and found out if they are pleased or displeased with cityhood. Given the big increase in real estate values in those communities, I think the results could be predicted.

          • MediateIt

            Your claims of the inevitable land grabs by Tucker, Brookhaven and Atlanta if LVH is voted down on Nov. 3rd rely on the patently false assumption that residents rejecting LVH will support annexations by Tucker, Brookhaven and Atlanta, and that more businesses will do the same. In fact, data suggests the exact opposite. No polls taken by neighborhoods in current LVH boundaries supported their desire for annexation into any other cities, and the majority of residents clearly expressed their preference to remain in unincorporated DeKalb. According to their own poll, the majority of residents in Druid Hills prefer to remain unincorporated as well. Residents who want to live in LVH clearly will not vote to be annexed elsewhere if the city fails. The owners of the commercial properties that petitioned to be annexed into Brookhaven also publicly stated that the possibility of finding themselves in a city of LaVista Hills with an as yet unknown zoning code prompted the timing of their decision. Other owners of commercial properties in the LVH boundaries are not clamoring to annex into another city if LVH fails. Legislatively, it is a cakewalk to create a new city by comparison to annexing property into an existing city, and the fact that LVH and Tucker will have their referendums this year before producing feasibility studies, but no proposed annexations by Atlanta, Decatur, Stone Mountain, Clarkston, Avondale Estates, etc. were approved, makes my point. Fear mongering based on fact free hypotheticals is lazy at best and dishonest at worst. Surely you can do better than that.

          • notapunk

            Here’s the deal. The residents won’t get to vote. Those other entities will annex commercial property. You think the Northlake businesses won’t want to join their brethren in Tucker if Tucker passes and LVH fails? You don’t think Tucker would lobby them? (And I’m sure Tucker and LVH will have their feasibility studies before the referendum.) None of these are claims, just predictions.

    • Jan Atlanta

      Voting no will not stop annexations. Woodworth worked diligently to get an agreement with Brookhaven that they would not go after commercial property – after they took CHOA and Executive Park – for a public statement that B’haven would cease any annexation efforts for 2015. If the referendum fails, Joe Gebbia will be racing to get all of the commercial property that he can into Brookhaven. Atlanta will head north and meet Brookhaven in the middle. Ultimately, this leaves a large residential swath unincorporated – without commercial property to pay for services.

  • DHH

    Lots of discussion about keeping the school cluster intact. Currently in Druid Hills 19% of households have a person <18 years old. Compare that to Decatur which is at 48%. This creates a situation where the high school within Druid Hills has only a fraction of children from within Druid Hills. My own anecdotal experience is that this is changing and changing fast. Lots of new families moving into Druid Hills right now. Further, the closest private school, Paideia, is next to impossible to get into due to competition. Decatur is becoming less and less cost effective as well. Growth of school age children within Druid Hills and attending public school is happening and will change the demographics of Druid Hills High. I'm not saying this is good or bad, but rather pointing out the demographic realities. Some degree of redistricting will have to happen to Druid Hills High, not next year certainly, but perhaps in 5-10 years. This will result in some of the feeder elementary schools getting redistricted.

    So based on this, it seems shortsighted to try and block annexation simply for the goal of keeping a high school cluster intact. History has shown that attendance zones are ephemeral constructs which change over time regardless of incorporation, annexation, etc. I don't see what the intrinsic value of keeping the cluster together for its own sake is. The only constant is change.

    • Russell Carleton

      There may very well be redistricting in 5-10 years anyway, but if Atlanta annexation goes through, there would almost certainly be re-districting about 6 month afterwards. Maybe it is putting off the inevitable, but there are a lot of parents out there thinking that in 10 years, their kids will be through those schools.

  • DH

    Dekalb Strong is a curious name.

  • CarefulWhatYouWishFor

    Where does Avondale get off reaching across Ponce and grabbing the Farmers Market? That area is historic Scottdale! One would think since this area is slated to be the last pension contributing island left in DeKalb that the county would be scrambling to fix potholes and sidewalks for its last remaining citizens, but no. Henceforth the 2016 Scottdale Cityhood Bill is coming. Then we will proceed to provide trash service twice a week, found a property crime focused investigative police force absent of citation quotas and firearms, and finally allow stores to sell booze past 11:45pm. You other cities will rue the day you shunned our affordable apartments and diverse demography!

  • RAJ

    Mostly re-hash, some good stuff, thanks for the meeting.

  • GJV

    There won’t be much DeKalb left after LaVista Hills and Tucker pass (and they will pass), and I certainly don’t want the post-cityhood remnants of DeKalb setting the agenda for Druid Hills. Atlanta is far from perfect but a far better option than being left behind in floundering DeKalb County.

  • Tom Doolittle

    A position that says’, “I’m in support of DeKalb” is no sale without saying how a group of communities will use voices and advocacy to create alternative processes to “build something”.

    DeKalb will continue dysfunction–period, so how will individual areas such as Northlake create more law enforcement, better parks and advocate to make street changes? What various organizational structures will accomplish this–how does it create effective advocacy–if other than creating new cities. CIDs, demonstrating for TADs (and helping pave the way), parks partnerships, community councils–a combination of citizen advocacies.

    Also–being against ANY and ALL “municipalization” foregoes a full evaluation of the benefits of a complete annexation plan for the county. If shown benefitial, then that makes a clear and viable position to advocate. Such a plan could be a ten-year plan and can be made an “opt-in” process. No-one gets annexed if they don’t vote for it–and by definition is done neighborhood-by-neighborhood. The benefits of this can be easily articulated vs votes by an area of a 100 neighborhoods where voters local wishes are diluted.

    To allow a positive “pro-Dekalb” movement to be hijacked or misinterpreted by an “anti-new city” message is falling prey to the cityhood movement. It also sets itself up for detractors to claim the name is fraudulent. Best that you do what cityhood “educators” owed the community in the first place–decide where the communities-of-interest are (define them), evaluate cityhood, (not sell it) by making cityhood just one of several means of “localization”.

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