Cityhood Update


I hope that you and your family and friends have a wonderful Thanksgiving. As we approach the holidays, my hope is that you will be able to take some time to celebrate. I wish you and your family a wonderful and safe holiday.

Cityhood Update

I have promised to keep you apprised of the cityhood process, which has grown quite complicated in the last couple of months. I will first describe the issues that impact our district the most, and then summarize other developments.

The proposed cities of Tucker, Lakeside and Briarcliff: In August, the House Governmental Affairs Committee asked the leaders of these three proposed cities to resolve their border disagreements by Nov. 15, and instructed them that if they did not, a 5-member arbitration panel of Representatives would be appointed by Committee Chair Amy Carter of Valdosta. That panel would draw a map by Dec. 31st, and that map would be the only one considered by that Committee during the coming legislative session.

Lakeside and Briarcliff decided to combine with one another, changed their name to LaVista Hills, and developed a new website which contains a copy of their proposed map:

The map proposed by Tucker 2015 can be found at Tucker 2015's website here:

The groups met a number of times and worked with a mediator but they were unable to reach a resolution. Consequently, the process will move forward with an arbitration panel of legislators.

The members of that panel, all of whom serve on the House Governmental Affairs Committee, include Rep. Buzz Brockway, chair (Gwinnett County), Rep. Howard Mosby (DeKalb County), Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (DeKalb County), Rep. Mark Hamilton (Forsyth County) and Rep. Barry Fleming (Columbia County).

Many of my constituents live in the area of overlap between the Tucker and LaVista Hills maps, and a number of you have asked how you can communicate your wishes to the members of that panel. I encourage you to contact these Representatives by phone, letter, or email. Their contact information can be found at the links below:

Rep. Brockway

Rep. Mosby
Rep. Oliver

Rep. Hamilton

Rep. Fleming

If you send an email or write a letter, please send me a copy if you reside in the 81st district. I will continue to keep careful track of your preferences, and will make sure that the panel members are aware of this important citizen input. If you send a letter or an email, be sure to include your home address.

The rules for the arbitration panel have not yet been published, and this process is being done on an ad hoc basis. I will continue to push for a transparent and fair process.

Also affecting a portion of this district, the dispute between Chamblee and Brookhaven over Century Center was resolved unanimously by the Court of Appeals of Georgia in favor of Chamblee. I believe an appeal would be frivolous and a waste of additional time and money. If the Supreme Court of Georgia agrees to hear the appeal, then I will re-file the same bills I filed last year to legislatively resolve this matter. Both bills passed unanimously but were vetoed by Governor Deal.

On other fronts: A portion of unincorporated DeKalb County (specifically the Fernbank Elementary and Briar Vista Elementary school attendance zones) are exploring the possibility of annexing into the City of Atlanta. This would impact the boundaries of the proposed LaVista Hills, which includes some of this area within its proposed boundary. Along with that residential area, the possibility exists that Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be annexed into Atlanta as well.

Several other parts of unincorporated DeKalb County are exploring the possibility of annexation into Atlanta, Decatur or other municipalities. A large portion of the southern part of unincorporated DeKalb County is exploring the possibility of a City of South DeKalb. There are additional incorporation and annexation discussions taking place as this is being written.

Below please find questions:

—What happens if the Dec. 31st map goes on to pass the House and Senate? The residents of the proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills would get to vote on whether they want each of these cities. Citizens will only be able to vote on the city into which they are drawn.

—What happens if I am drawn into a city that I don't want to be part of? You will be able to vote "no." However, if the majority of citizens vote "yes," then you will be part of that city.

—The feasibility studies that were done for Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker were specific to the boundaries of the maps at that time. What will happen vis-à-vis the evaluation of feasibility once the new boundaries are determined? The feasibility studies will need to be redone and published so the public can examine the viability of the various proposals.

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