LaVista Hills meeting planned at Northlake Library

Posted by Dan Whisenhunt September 21, 2015

This story has been updated. 

A cityhood advocate has called a meeting to discuss LaVista Hills cityhood.

The meeting will be held on Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at the Northlake Library, located at 3772 LaVista Rd, Tucker, GA 30084, according to a robo call received by residents of the proposed city. The cityhood question is on the ballot Nov. 3.

The featured speaker is Stephen Quinn, an attorney for the city of Clarkston who is a partner at Wilson, Morton & Downs, the same firm that represents the city of Avondale Estates, the city of Decatur and City Schools of Decatur.

Mary Kay Woodworth with the LaVista Hills Alliance said the Alliance did not organize the meeting.

“I received a robo call today about the meeting,” Woodworth told Decaturish. “Josh Kahn, who is a cityhood advocate, was the caller, and upon receipt of the call, I contacted him for details. The meeting is at the Northlake Library, and Josh and other volunteers have been distributing information about it in his community. The speaker is Clarkston City Attorney Stephen Quinn, discussing zoning and benefits of cityhood in regard to zoning decision.

“Since June, a grassroots team of cityhood advocates have been holding neighborhood and community meetings throughout the summer. This meeting is from this grassroots effort, which is not controlled by any one group, nor needs the permission of anyone to hold meetings or events. LaVista Hills Alliance’s next community meeting is Monday, Sept. 28 at Holy Cross Catholic Church. We will have three additional meetings focused on public safety in October, dates and locations TBA.”

Kahn told Decaturish that Quinn is not attending the meeting in his official capacity as Clarkston’s attorney. He said the city of Clarkston is not involved in the meeting.

“He has just agreed to answer questions about how the zoning process works in a city,” Kahn said.

On Sept. 22 Quinn and Kahn said the event went well.

“We had a nice discussion about local zoning issues,” Quinn said.

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  • jo

    Clarkston with a sex shop in its main shopping district is not the city zoning to emulate.

  • MediateIt

    Disingenuous, much, Mary Kay?! Commissioner Nancy Jester, in a since deleted post on her Facebook page, announced this evening’s meeting at the Northlake library as an opportunity to talk about cityhood (with the library address including “LaVista Hills, GA.”). Josh Kahn is an appointed “District Captain” by the board of the LVH Alliance. But, according to you, “This meeting is from this grassroots effort, which is not controlled by any one group, nor needs the permission of anyone to hold meetings or events.” What is your problem with simply telling the truth?

  • factivist

    M/I, Get a grip, and stop insulting Woodworth, just because you disagree with her efforts toward cityhood. It amazes me how people roam around the internet saying nasty things and calling other people liars. Reality is that dozens of positive grassroots volunteer groups have sprung up this summer, supporting LVH, our chance to build a better future and turn around the decay of places like Northlake and N DeKalb Malls – before it spreads to surrounding neighborhoods. We want local control to take care of those and other neglected places. The county doesn’t care about our area, but we do!

    And the people out in Tucker are working on their referendum for the same reasons. We are sick of the county squandering our tax money. It is time for change!

    • MediateIt

      I do not question the fact that a number of grassroots volunteers have sprung up this summer, both in support of and against, the LaVista Hills referendum. However, this particular meeting cannot have been the surprise to Mary Kay that she implied, nor was it the propitious result of grass roots volunteers. The meeting was scheduled and presented by Alliance board member and/or Alliance district captain Josh Kahn, with the assistance and support of Commissioner Jester. Why be vague about it and imply otherwise?

      The Alliance is putting together an impressive initiative to win the referendum, from fundraising, to structuring “city council district” units, setting up a task force to address the services they have chosen to provide, and recruiting volunteers. They have the services of a law firm (Coleman Talley), a lobbyist (John Garst, who is also a lobbyist for Coleman Talley), political support services (Rosetta Stone Communications, owned by Steve Schultz and John Garst, specializing in robo calls and polling), and the support of business owners and developers who are currently benefiting from their ongoing business relationships with Dunwoody and Brookhaven Why not let people know that, instead of continuing to hide behind the fiction of pure grass roots volunteers? Where’s the transparency in the Alliance that their leadership promises will be the hallmark of their new city? I encourage you to ask those questions yourself, because they are selling the city that you are buying.

      • factivist

        Boy, I wish I had your ability to read other people’s minds! Have you ever considered the possibility that the people you name may just live in the LVH map, or have family who lives here, and be donating their services, to help this part of DeKalb escape the chopping block to come when the County Commission makes ALL of unincorporated DeKalb a city, as proposed in legislation by Senator Ramsey last year? This is not a new issue, has been swirling for the last 4-5 years, both the county and state trying to figure what to do with DeKalb. I’ve studied it for myself the last few years and see LVH as our last chance at self-determination and a brighter future.

        That’s the beauty of the voting machine – we each get to vote our convictions. Ooops! I forgot, you don’t live in LVH.

        • jo

          “to help this part of DeKalb escape the chopping block”–municipalization as bad

          “last chance at self-determination and a brighter future.”–municipalization as a good thing

          Do you support municipalization or oppose it?

          • factivist

            Jo, I support the concept of local city government as being more responsive and responsible. I do not support being carved up by commissioners and a CEO who are under investigation by GBI, FBI, and DOJ for criminal activities. It is utterly amazing to see people who seem to do so.

          • Marjorie Snook

            He does, however, support being carved up by a bunch of legislators from outside the metro area! They cut a park in half, divided long established communities, and drew a ton of lines down the middle of streets.

            Also: the commission has no power to make cities.

          • HB

            Do you know that in Candler Park/Lake Claire, they not only have a city border, but a county border “dividing” the streets? And guess what: There is NO impact to the sense of community. Not even a little bit. Please let go of this weak straw man your group is clinging to. Those of us who have lived anywhere else know this would be an insignificant impact.

            Seriously, why on earth do you not want to have at least some control of your own tax dollars? Do you ask someone else how to budget your own household expenses? Of course you don’t. If you truly want to continue to let the county decide your fate, go ahead, vote no I guess, but PLEASE stop trying to block those of us who want to step up and take responsibility for improving our area.

        • MediateIt

          Precisely! You get to vote your convictions, but I cannot. As you know, I live on the outside boundary of LVH, will be significantly impacted by the formation of a new city, but have no say in the matter. And what impresses me the most about our conversation is the fact that you don’t care about what might happen to the remaining residents of unincorporated DeKalb if LVH becomes a city. LVH, both through its charter and leadership, has made no commitment to contributing to paying off existing pension and bond debt with their revenue, so the burden will fall on 67,000 fewer residents of unincorporated DeKalb than it does now. That would include my neighborhood, not that you care.

          If you would put half of the energy and commitment you are giving the Alliance into improving DeKalb government – a county that you will still live in – as you are putting into breaking the county into fiefdoms, we would all reap the benefits together. Or, you could just take your ball and go home. It seems that you have already made your decision, though. Great. Thanks for that.

          • factivist

            If memory serves me correctly, you chose not to be able to vote, and instead to fight my right to vote. And yes, I care very much about my county. I have put over 20 years of energy, commitment, time and treasure into improving DeKalb — attended hundreds of meetings, spoken with commissioners, CEOs, department heads and employees, state legislators, etc. I have served on task forces and study committees, then watched the results, recommendations of all that work by not only me but many others totally ignored by the county power structure. They have showed disregard for our area of the county – other than our tax money. Meanwhile the downward spiral of services, commercial and residential areas just kept going. I am now sick of watching over a billion dollars a year squandered by corrupt government. I agree with Einstein’s assessment about keeping doing the same thing and expecting a different result being insanity.

            It is time for change. The closer to the people, the better the government. A city is closer than a county (especially a geographic giant like DeKalb). We the people have a chance at self determination, and after all these years it would be a shame to let fear, uncertainty or doubt keep us from seizing the opportunity to become a stronger unit of underpinning for our county and also helping our area address the slow rot occurring via county neglect. I watched with envy when Brookhaven and Dunwoody became cities and began improving their areas while simultaneously giving increased income to the county, thereby helping the things you mention. It truly is win-win, and I hope to see LVH be able to do that also. Because, you see, I do care.

          • MediateIt

            If memory serves me correctly, five neighborhoods in the LVH footprint went to the legislature to request that they be removed from the boundaries of the proposed city. Their requests were ignored. Victoria Estates, along with a portion of Merry Hills, was removed because it is in a census block that includes Emory property. The half of Mason Mill that was excluded was not part of the census block that incorporates Toco Hills, and it has too many cityhood opponents. The remaining neighborhoods were not removed from the map because they would have rendered LVH entirely unfeasible. If the legislature had cared – if city proponents had cared – about residents of those neighborhoods, we wouldn’t even be here today. So, no, I don’t buy your generosity of spirit. You want what you want. Period.

          • Jan Atlanta

            What will happen to the rest of the residents of unincorporated DeKalb County is that they will benefit from more opportunity and better services precisely because LaVista Hills, Brookhaven, Tucker, Dunwoody, Doraville ,Chamblee, Stonecrest (when passed) will be attracting more residents and more businesses to DeKalb County and increasing the tax base. The alternative is to allow DeKalb County’s inept, corrupt government to squander the resources here as they have for the last 15 years.

        • OldWhiteDad

          I am a 30+ year resident of the proposed LVH city and a lifelong conservative. I detest dekalb county government, but I don’t get rid of dekalb county government if this referendum passes. The schools are terrible, but I don’t get rid of the schools. My neighborhood is very safe and I get a great value for my public safety dollar. I get new and likely very ineffective police. The LVH groups can’t get along so I get two different pictures of the same imaginary city. I see LVH supporters attacking the messengers instead of the messages. i wanted to vote for cityhood, but not this city. What am i missing? Please tell me what I will gain if this referendum passes.

  • drew

    Love the irony. “LaVista Hills meeting…in Tucker, 30084”. Enough Said. Tucker 2015.

  • follow the money

    Grass roots? Lets see LVH Alliance once known as the Lakeside group was formed and led by a lobbyist, a out of office politician and a political consultant who happens to own a robo calling service. How many grass roots efforts are largely funded by a law firm that just happens to make millions representing these new city governments and also has 500 a pop private fundraisers for business looking to profit from this city? If this is grass roots to them I wonder what a politically motivated group would look like. Also how many grass roots meetings send out robo calls to announce them? When this thing loses it won’t be because people are so much against the idea, (although many that’s all it is) It’s will be because they lost the middle voter with dirty stuff like this.

    • OldWhiteDad

      Exactly! I’m one of the voters who was lost with “dirty stuff like this.” If LVH is such a great idea for all of us, why all the effort to hide the truth? Let the facts decide this referendum.

  • HB

    What anti-city folks are not grasping is that LVH groups are simply setting up a structure. WE will pick who represents us, not them, and by doing so, WE will pick the agenda that we feel is best for our area.

    Time to man up, stop being passive. Stop “hoping” some benevolent leader in Dekalb county is going to step up to “take care of you.”

    Nobody — not one of you, not any group — has presented one practical idea for how we would “fix” the Dekalb corruption. A vote against cityhood is a vote for the status quo. Why on earth do you NOT want to control your own fate? Who do you think is looking out for you? It’s time we grow up and take control of our own future.

    • MediateIt

      HB – Still peddling that lie: “Nobody — not one of you, not any group — has presented one practical idea for how we would “fix” the Dekalb corruption.” You lose more credibility every time you repeat it. To refresh your memory: The citizens’ group, Blueprint to Restore DeKalb, researched and worked our asses off to put together three reform proposals, get them vetted through the Task Force, drafted and presented proposed legislation to the House and Senate, and then lobbied throughout the session for HB 597 (Ethics reform), HB 598 (Purchasing reform) and HB 599 (new Office of Independent Internal Audit) with the assistance of several other citizens’ groups, specifically including DeKalb Strong. The bills passed by unanimous vote in the DeKalb delegation, unanimous vote in the House, and with only one dissenting vote in the Senate. The Purchasing and Audit bills are now law and are being implemented as outlined. The new Code of Ethics will be voted on in a referendum in November. Fixing any government is hard work, but it pays dividends. My turn. What have you done for the county lately – you know, the one we will all still be living in on November 4th?

      • HB

        Hon. MediateIt: Cleaning up Dekalb corruption is county work that must happen, regardless. City work is more about creating positive impact for N. Dekalb, to stem the palpable decline we’ve seen over the last decade. The point you guys in DS seem to miss is that we can, and should have BOTH. It’s not either/or.

        Let Dekalb Strong hold county corruption to the fire.
        Let LVH work on proactive ways to improve the growing blight that the county has proven indifferent to.

        (Example: The crime ridden late night clubs at Briar/Clair that in no way conform to our previously sleepy suburban community, nor will they enforce clean up of the crumbling blight that has taken hold there. It’s foolish to believe that Dekalb will suddenly start to care after all this time not doing so. However, A CITY will see this commercial location (a formerly nice gateway to the Emory community) as ripe for refreshing–they would take action that the county will not. Same with Northlake. Dekalb let these areas slide, and if we vote status quo, prepare for further blight. We need smaller, local leadership to affect the changes that neighborhood committees and citizen initiatives have failed to get from the county.

        • MediateIt

          As Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and Brookhaven have clearly demonstrated, cities see both commercial and residential neighborhoods as ripe for development, frequently against the wishes of the impacted neighborhoods. There are minimal areas of actual blight in the LVH footprint, but plenty of room for new apartment complexes, along with other housing and commercial developments. Are you planning on widening LaVista Road and Briarcliff to handle this new growth, or watch traffic back up like Sandy Springs and Dunwoody? The choice, by the way, is not between the “status quo” and Utopia. The choice is between a county undergoing major legal and legislative changes leading to a better government and an unknown, unproven city government that can’t wait to let developers have their way. Be careful what you wish for, HB. You might not care for the consequences.

          • HB

            MediateIt, I can’t follow your argument, as it is the county that has been showing little concern for the impact of overdevelopment. They are greenlighting apartment projects right and left. Luckily the citizens have stopped some (such as that NDH debacle), but with oversight of a city, we can establish a vision plan that will help curtail these “non-smart” developments upfront–rather than having to play whack-a-mole trying to uncover and stop these idiotic county-bribed projects. The greased-palm money train is simply too established in that arena.

            Do you really believe that refreshing the recent decline of Briarcliff/Clairmont or Northlake is not warranted? Those areas are in fact in decline, and in the case of B/C, suffering additional crime from non-conforming businesses. With ideal locations right near a highway, not in the midst of a neighborhood, and great demographics nearby to support, they are goldmines for quality commercial to move in. This is exactly where smart development is needed. How can anyone make a serious argument against this?

          • MediateIt

            Speaking of NDH, have you not noticed what Brookhaven has permitted devlopment of CHOA and Executive Park without traffic feasibility studies? If Briarcliff isn’t widened in that area before the developments are completed, no one will be able to get in or out of their adjacent homes during rush hour. Sandy Springs is ignoring neighborhoods adjoining the Mercedes complex. Brookhaven is allowing a neighborhood church to build a parking deck overshadowing multiple homes, an apartment complex is going up next to Montgomery Elementary, and the list goes on. Developers are salivating at the opportunities that await them, and not just at Northlake. Brookhaven is smaller than LVH, developers are clearcut ting old growth forests

          • HB

            Your case appears to be trying to paint an impression that this is *not* already happening with the county. It is, big time. Developer graft will forever be an issue, regardless of the govt structure. The big difference with a city is that the elected officials are residents of the area, and elected solely by residents of the area. This gives us far more representation and accountability, as they’ll have a bit more concern for the community. No govt will ever be perfect, but having our leadership comprised of vested community members is certainly a significant advantage, and better than what we have now. All areas of Dekalb should have more localized representation. It’s outgrown itself.

          • MediateIt

            Go back and look at how many zoning votes in the new cities were 5-1 or 4-2 against the council members who represented the residents who objected to the development. As it turns out, cities are more pro-development at the expense of local residents than the county is. Cities have a more immediate need for the revenue.

          • jo

            “They are greenlighting apartment projects right and left.”……….. Zoning decisions in DeKalb have always been decided by the district commissioner. Zoning votes by the Board of Commissioners are almost always unanimous. And the person responsible for the motion to approve or disapprove is the district commissioner. So the apartment question goes right back to the commissioner; PRO CITY Elaine Boyer? or Rader?

            “but with oversight of a city, we can establish a vision plan that will help curtail these “non-smart” developments upfront-“…City plans will follow the already established plans


            or will city plans do like Brookhaven and work to destroy the plans citizens have established?


            “county-bribed projects.” ..geez…”greased-palm money train”…The same palm greasers will be operating in a city too! Exactly how does another layer of government save the day or does it further bury the problem?

            “areas are in fact in decline” NO they are in transition. Current owner are just biding their time for the right buyer. The Northlake LCI will guide that redevelopment. They hit a stall like all areas did in ’08. BTW, the B/C area has seen a sharp drop in crime.

            “they are goldmines for quality commercial to move in”–“where smart development is needed”….The development of those site will be commercial but the tone I detect from LVH is fast and bigger development the better. I prefer to be a suburban community rather than the an urban, traffic nightmare like Buckhead or midtown or Dunwoody.

            More FUD from pro urban, pro density, pro developer advocates. The CITY of Doraville is trying to rope us all into a DOA mega development but ther is silence from the pro LVH crowd because they want that same power. At least the county commission has rasised some red flags.

          • HB

            Jo, I will repeat my previous statement just for you: There is NO world in which developers and governments aren’t in bed together. Always been, forever will be. Thus, a smaller, more accountable govt comprised of our neighbors, those who live in and care about an area, will always be to our benefit.

            Please, DS supporters, stop with only worst case speculations. Please see more than black and white, and for your own relevancy, acknowledge that there are also successful cities among us such as Decatur SS, John’s Creek. Recognize that there ARE decent, honest, smart people in our community, instead of assuming every local citizen candidate will be automatically be corrupt and evil.

            Remember that unlike in the overgrown Dekalb structure, your voice will count more in a smaller jurisdiction. YOU will get to elect your own neighbors to represent us, and they will have a vested interest in keeping their area livable. Look at what Decatur has done for itself with careful oversight and a good plan. We have the opportunity to do the same. Don’t waste this chance.

          • jo

            Simple way to minimize this “graft” and ” developers and government” in bed together:don’t create another layer of government and politicians soliciting money from developers.

            Please, LVH, stop with the the sky is falling, doom and gloom. Our neighborhoods are safer than Dunwoodys’, Chamblees’ or Brookhavens. Our neighborhood are seeing positive redevelopment and there are positive and honest citizens working to make DeKalb even better; not trying to segregate the county by household income level. Our neighborhoods don’t suffer the overbearing tax level of Decatur, the over development of SS and the inability to meet the infrastructure needs of a JC. This is not a wasted chance as we live and work here and care about our neighborhoods. There is great buyers remorse in Brookhaven as only one district has received the majority of the city’s very limited funds for the promises made to their residents.

  • Save Tucker!

    Interesting how those who are saying, “Stop with the sky is falling,” are either unaware or in denial of their community’s own history with self-government. It was the LaVista Hills / Lakeside loyal board member who was vice chair of the school board and chairman of the Budget, Audit and Finance Committee when millions of dollars came up “missing” from the reserves. It was that same school board member who came back upon the insistence of the community (according to him) to serve his community (and sometimes the other areas in his district, like Tucker) only to serve them up a big surprise by way of his plan to put cell phone towers at schools, including Briarlake Elementary without asking his own neighbors when they thought about it. Sometimes it is not proximity in miles to one’s elected representative that makes the difference; it is proximity one finds a representative’s values to match up with his/her voters and that is something much more difficult to measure. It’s also hard to manage without an independent ethics board, which the planned city does not have.

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