By Amy Wenk
Neither annexation into Chamblee or incorporation as a township should move ahead for Brookhaven during the recession, a Brookhaven state legislator told the Ashford Alliance Community Association at its meeting March 19.
Republican Rep. Mike Jacobs talked briefly about the city of Chamblee’s efforts to annex two unincorporated parcels: one containing the Sexton Woods neighborhood on the east side of Ashford-Dunwoody Road in Brookhaven and a larger parcel that includes Huntley Hills north of the city.
“My advice to everybody is just to sit tight in regard to annexation right now,” said Jacobs, noting the annexation feasibility study was conducted three years ago when the economic situation was brighter. “It is a very dangerous thing to be changing the territories of any local governments right now while we are going through what is a very difficult fiscal situation for every level of government.”
Jacobs also addressed House Bill 30, which would allow Brookhaven to be incorporated as a township. While the legislation went nowhere this year, he advised residents to pay attention to the current revision of the DeKalb County Comprehensive Plan.
He said the zoning changes, which “wedge high-density stuff in wherever it possibly can,” could be a catalyst for incorporation.
“Right now, let’s see how things go with the DeKalb County government,” Jacobs said. “We have a new CEO that has been very communicative with the community.”
He added: “Maybe at some point incorporation might be a good option for Brookhaven, but I don’t think we should pursue it at this time.”
The second round of community workshops on the Comprehensive Plan will be held April 21 from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at Montgomery Elementary School on Ashford-Dunwoody Road in northern Brookhaven.
Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta), the head of the 19-member DeKalb legislative delegation, also attended the alliance meeting to talk about the session that ended April 1.
The legislation discussed included:
• The Transforming Transportation Investment Act (Senate Bill 200). This measure seeks more timely completion and better distributed funding for state transportation projects. The bill, which was up for debate in the House in the final hours of the session, would create a new management structure, the State Transportation Authority (STA), by merging the State Road and Tollway Authority and the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority.
“In essence, it takes the authority away from the Georgia Department of Transportation,” Mosby said. GDOT retains management of the state highway network.
Mosby said the new agency would not be subject to congressional balancing as is GDOT, which must allocate funds equally among the 13 congressional districts in Georgia. GDOT’s system does not give the Atlanta area “the kind of money that we need,” he said.
The legislation calls for the governor to appoint five of the 11 STA board members, the lieutenant governor to chose three and the speaker of the House to pick three.
“It doesn’t break down along party lines at all; it’s really a question of power,” Jacobs said.
“I really want to see … more efficient delivery of transportation projects,” he said.
• A property transfer bill (S.B. 58). This bill, sponsored by Sen. Dan Weber (R-Dunwoody), passed the Senate but stalled in the House. It would have facilitated the transfer of county assets such as police and fire stations and parks to the city of Dunwoody.
“It’s important to DeKalb County,” Mosby said.
The bill would have used the appraised value of county property a year before incorporation and allowed the city and county to negotiate a sale price, but it also set certain prices in case negotiations failed: $5,000 per police or fire station and $100 per acre of parkland.
The legislation also would have required the county to pay the city in a lump sum any park bond proceeds allocated but not spent for green space inside Dunwoody.
“Dunwoody wants to continue to push the envelope” on that legislation, producing significant opposition, Jacobs said.
Still, Mosby said the measure likely will return. “It’s hard to kill legislation,” he said. “It’s like cockroaches.”
• Georgia Nuclear Energy Financing Act (S.B. 31). This bill passed the Senate on Feb. 11 and the House on Feb. 26. It allows Georgia Power to finance two new nuclear power generators through a surcharge. Power bills will rise about $1.30 a month starting in 2011.
“I supported the legislation,” Mosby said. He said money is cheaper now because costs compound as the project nears completion. Construction is scheduled to begin in 2010.
Early collection of the surcharge will reduce the project cost by $300 million, according to a Feb. 11 news release from Sen. Don Balfour (R-Duluth), the bill’s lead sponsor.
But Jacobs voted against the bill.
“I am generally pro-nuclear-power,” he said, but he could not justify burdening residents with additional fees in a recession.