Two north DeKalb lawmakers have introduced legislation to create a city of Brookhaven.
Rep. Mike Jacobs, who lives in the portion of DeKalb County where the new city would be formed, and Rep. Tom Taylor of Dunwoody filed the legislation March 31.
“It’s just a proposal,” Jacobs said. “A lot will change to meet the community’s needs.”
Jacobs presented the proposal several days after a standing room only community meeting Jacobs, Taylor and Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody held at Chamblee United Methodist Church to discuss the proposed new city and alternative plans to have the area annexed into Chamblee or Dunwoody.
Jacobs and Taylor previously introduced legislation allowing the area to be annexed into either Dunwoody or Chamblee. Jacobs described the area as a peninsula of unincorporated county bounded by the cities. Jacobs has announced he is shelving the legislation until the 2012 legislative session.
Rep. Elena Parent, who represents portions of the area outlined in the proposed city of Brookhaven; three members of the Dunwoody City Council; Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson; and representatives of county officials also attended the March 31 meeting.
During the community meeting, Jacobs told the 200-plus residents filling the room that either annexation into an existing city or creation of a new city would bring local government closer to them. He argued Dunwoody and Chamblee provide better local services more efficiently than DeKalb County.
Taylor, who helped organize the city of Dunwoody, told the group that creating a new city was hard work. “Whether you do an annexation or cityhood, you need to pull up your bootstraps,” he said.
Residents at the meeting differed on whether they should remain in the county, join an existing city or create a new one.
Ashford Park Civic Association president Ronnie Mayer said he saw no reason a new government was needed. “If you elect somebody you don’t like, you throw him out,” Mayer said. “What you do is you vote him out.”
“There’s no groundswell to do this,” said Ashford Park resident Eddie Ehlert. “I think this is the kind of thing that will be put in place and be impossible to stop.”
But others said they felt the county government was not meeting their needs. Murphey Candler resident Kristin Boyer said county officials won’t keep up playgrounds in her community. “I am interested in exploring options,” she said. “They’re spending money on salaries we don’t need when I won’t take my children to the park.”
The Ashford Alliance Civic Association, an umbrella group of homeowners associations, ran an online survey about the proposals that, in early results, found that 78 percent of the respondents felt there should have been discussion about the annexation plans before legislation was drawn up.
The survey drew so many respondents, Ashford Alliance president Scott Saulson said, that the association extended to April 15 the period that the survey would collect comments. To complete the survey, go to http://ashfordalliance.org.
In preliminary results released in late March, 41 percent of 215 respondents said they would prefer to remain in unincorporated DeKalb County; 27 percent said they would prefer to create a separate city; 17 percent preferred annexation by Chamblee; and 15 percent preferred annexation by Dunwoody.
Jacobs said he introduced the city of Brookhaven proposal after a poll he commissioned in the northern portion of the area found a substantial percentage of the residents wanted a new city instead of annexation into an existing one.
His poll, conducted by a private polling firm, found that about 31 percent favored creating a new city, 19 percent favored annexation into Dunwoody and 10 percent favored annexation into Chamblee, he said. The poll of 227 residents showed that about 3/5 of the residents “want the conversation to continue” while about 1/5 want it to stop, he said.
Jacobs said the city of Brookhaven charter he introduced in the Legislature was modeled on Dunwoody’s charter.
The legislation, he said, will require a study of the proposed new city by the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia. The study could cost more than $20,000, he said, and must be paid for by a committee of residents.
“It’s all going to be citizen-driven,” Jacobs told residents 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,]” Jacobs 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.”