More than 200 residents packed a Chamblee church hall to hear discussion of proposals to create a new city of Brookhaven or allow a group of north DeKalb neighborhoods to seek annexation into Chamblee or Dunwoody.

District 80 Rep. Mike Jacobs, who represents portions of the unincorporated area between the cities, has proposed legislation allowing the annexations. After a poll he sponsored found a portion of the residents were interested in creating a new city, Jacobs says he will sponsor legislation to allow study of that proposal.

“It’s all going to be citizen driven,” Jacobs told the standing-room-only gathered at Chamblee United Methodist Church on March 29 for a two-hour discussion of the proposals. “Yes, I put the issue on the table,” he said, but, as in the creation of Dunwoody two years ago, a legislative proposal will be followed by months of discussion, study and public votes.

“No one is going to create a new city and put you in it [without a public vote,]” he said. “You have the right to vote on whether you will be annexed into an existing city or whether a new city will be created.”

Jacobs was joined by Rep. Tom Taylor and Sen. Fran Millar, both of Dunwoody. Taylor co-sponsored  the first annexation proposal Jacobs introduced in the house. Jacobs said the legislation was intended to foster community discussion of the issue. The legislation is on hold until the 2012 legislative session, he said.

Rep. Elena Parent, who represents portions of the area outlined in the proposed city of Brookhaven; members of the Dunwoody City Council; Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson; and representatives of county officials also attended the meeting.

Jacobs said residents should consider creating a new city or joining an existing one because the smaller communities do a better job of delivering government services than does the DeKalb County government. “Our neighboring citizens are receiving a better level of services … for roughly the same tax burden we are paying,” he said.

Several residents who spoke said they agreed.

But others said they had no problem with the county or saw no reason to create a new government to solve problems with the existing county government.

Ashford Park resident Ronnie Mayor said that problems with county officials could be addressed in simpler ways. “If you elect somebody you don’t like, you throw him out,” Mayer said. “What you do is you vote him out.”

Joe Earle

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.