Some DeKalb residents told lawmakers the county cannot stand to have one more city.
“Let’s be careful with this,” said county resident James Wilson, about a movement to incorporate the Brookhaven community. “Because after a while East Lake is going to want a city, Kirkwood is going to want a city, [and] Panthersville is going to want a city. And then what’s going to be left for the county? You’re going to have a little four-block place here between these cities.”
Although residents discussed the proposed transportation tax and changing DeKalb’s form of government, among other subjects, the proposed cityhood of Brookhaven was one of the most-discussed topics during a town hall meeting with DeKalb’s legislative delegation to the state’s General Assembly.
John Steineken, a “50-year resident of DeKalb County by choice,” said the county needs less, not more, cities.
“It’s not going to do the county any good,” Steineken said. “It’s going to hurt it.”
It was because of that possibility that Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-83) said she pre-filed House Bill 672 in November which would require a two-year minimum period before a community could vote to incorporate.
Proponents of the proposed city are using a study by the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute to support their cause. According to the study, the proposed city is financially feasible and would be more advantageous than remaining unincorporated.
But that study, paid for by the non-profit, non-partisan Citizens for North DeKalb, does not consider the costs to Chamblee, Dunwoody and unincorporated DeKalb, Oliver said.
Resident John Stabler, who lives near the proposed borders of the city, said a new city would be “a redundant government entity” with “more possibility for government intrusion” into the lives of residents.
“The people who propose a city are self-appointed, they weren’t elected, and the decisions they make about boundaries will affect people outside the boundaries who do not have a chance to vote on whether or not the boundaries are OK,” Stabler said.
Elena Parent (D-81), who is studying the incorporation practices of other states, said she has concerns with Georgia’s process.
“The current procedures seem wanting and they don’t take into account any of the neighboring communities and the welfare of the county,” Parent said.
Joel Alvarado, the county’s legislative director, said the incorporation movement is part of a trend occurring in the state’s larger counties. In 2008, Dunwoody was incorporated and in November a Gwinnett County community voted to form the city of Peachtree Corners.
“The issue of Brookhaven is not a uniquely DeKalb County issue,” Alvarado said. Georgians need to address a philosophical question: “What do we want it to look like in the future? Do we want a balkanized region where we have all these little communities all competing against one another? We have to ask ourselves what direction we are going as a state.”
Sen. Emmanuel Jones (D-10) had a simple opinion about the proposed Brookhaven: “I’m personally opposed to the formation of any more cities in DeKalb County.”