How a north DeKalb County resident feels about whether a new city of Brookhaven should be created may depend on where he or she lives.
When District 80 Rep. Mike Jacobs earlier this year proposed legislation creating a new city in the area, he said he had heard from neighbors in the Murphey-Candler area of north DeKalb and nearby communities that they weren’t happy with DeKalb County’s government and wanted to do something about it. A poll he commissioned found that about 64 percent wanted to be annexed into an existing city or to create a new one.
But Katie Oehler, who lives in the Drew Valley community south of Murphey-Candler, says that’s not what she hears in her neighborhood.
“There’s been no outcry in this community,” she said. “I haven’t heard one person say, ‘Gosh, we need a city over here.’ Nobody! Nobody! It’s a solution looking for a problem.”
And State Rep. Elena Parent, whose district takes in Drew Valley and other nearby communities such as Ashford Park, said that when she asked constituents to email her their opinions, about half of the 85 or so who responded wanted to remain in unincorporated DeKalb.
About a quarter of the 85 were interested in becoming part of the city of Brookhaven, she said. Another quarter wanted more information.
Jacobs said it may not be surprising that people in different areas may feel differently about incorporation. “Neighborhoods in more traditional Brookhaven are not nearly as sandwiched between other cities as the neighborhoods surrounding Murphey Candler Park and Silver Lake,” he said.
An online survey conducted by the Ashford Alliance Community Association found nearly half the respondents wanted to remain in unincorporated DeKalb.
Of the 388 who answered the question, 47.9 percent said they preferred to remain outside any incorporated area while 26.8 percent preferred to be part of a new city, 13.1 percent wanted to be annexed by Chamblee and 12.1 percent opted for annexation by Dunwoody.
In the association’s voluntary online survey, 51.6 percent said they found DeKalb County’s service delivery generally to be satisfactory. Of the 395 who answered the question, 26.1 percent disagreed that the county’s services were satisfactory and 22.3 percent said it depends.
But Jacobs believes the Ashford Alliance survey isn’t a true sample of how the community feels.
“The Ashford Alliance survey is the electronic equivalent of stuffing the ballot box,” Jacobs said. “I have never seen a legitimate survey where the response time is extended, the number of responses nearly doubled in the extended response time and the results dramatically shift.”
Jacobs has introduced legislation that would allow creation of a city of Brookhaven in an area bounded roughly by Fulton County, Dunwoody, Chamblee, Clairmont Road and I-85.
He has said the legislation will allow public discussion of the idea of creating a new city. It also means a study of the proposal by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government must be commissioned, he said.
Parent, who said she hadn’t yet decided whether to back a new city or not, called for an educational forum about the possibility of a new city.
“Most people want some idea whether or not the financial situation of a new city would be feasible, and whether or not, from a revenue perspective what would be feasible,” Parent said. “We don’t have any idea what the tax rates would be.”
Jacobs agreed that more public discussion will be important in coming months.
“Right now citizens don’t have full information because full information does not exist. If it can be shown that citizens will receive better services for the same or a lower tax burden, then I think you will see opinions shift in favor of creation of a city of Brookhaven,” he said.
Oehler, however, has already formed her opinion about forming a new city. “I think it’s a terrible idea,” she said.
She said including the Buford Highway area in the new city in order to gain the area’s tax base would also bring in crime.
“The new city of Brookhaven is going to have one of the highest crime rates around,” Oehler said.
Melissa Weinman contibuted to this article.