A non-profit group has begun collecting donations to finance a study of the feasibility of creating a city of Brookhaven.

Citizens for North DeKalb announced recently that it had begun collecting donations through its website and by check. The group hopes to raise enough money to pay for a state-mandated study by the Carl Vinson Institute of Governmental Affairs at the University of Georgia to examine whether a proposal to create a new city in the area makes financial sense.

“We want to learn all we can about the municipal options that are on the table,” Doug Dykhuizen, president of the group, told members of the Brookhaven Community Connection on July 12.

Dykhuizen said the group hopes to raise a total of about $50,000. About $30,000 will be needed to finance the study, he said.

Reps. Mike Jacobs of north DeKalb and Tom Taylor of Dunwoody have introduced legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives that would allow residents of unincorporated areas of north DeKalb County to seek annexation into Chamblee or Dunwoody or to seek creating a new city of Brookhaven. The feasibility study is required by the state as part of the process of creating a new city.

Citizens for North DeKalb asked the Vinson Institute to study an area bounded roughly by Chamblee, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Atlanta and I-85, according to a map distributed at the BCC meeting.

That area would take in about 49,700 people, Dykuhizen said, and create the most populous city contained in DeKalb County. Dunwoody, he said, counts about 46,300 residents and Decatur takes in about 19,000.

Dykhuizen said a new city would bring government closer to the residents and could allow more resident input in local decisions. He cited examples of services in Dunwoody, a 2-year-old city, as ways smaller governments can provide more personal services. For instance, he said, Dunwoody police check on the homes of vacationing residents and the city allows residents to report pothole repairs with their smartphones.

Proposals to create a new city have drawn sharp criticism as well as support.

“We are offended,” said Ronnie Mayer, president of the Ashford Park Civic Association, to the members of the BCC. “People in Ashford Park are not in Brookhaven. [Residents near] Murphey Candler Park want to be somewhere. I think they want to be in Dunwoody. … I like what I’m getting now from the county.”

Laurenthia Mesh, who says she’s part of a new nonprofit group formed to fight the annexation or creation of a new city, expressed strong opposition as well. “We’re just us,” she said. “We want to stay us. Leave us alone.”

On June 29, more than 150 residents turned out at Oglethorpe University to hear presentations on the proposal during a community meeting organized by Rep. Elena Parent, who represents portions of north DeKalb. It was the third community meeting to discuss the annexation or incorporation proposals. The first two, organized by Jacobs, also drew hundreds of participants.

Many in the crowd on June 29 seemed to side against the new city. Members of the crowd applauded speakers who questioned the need to create a new city or join an existing one.

“I’m getting older and stingier,” said resident Eddie Ehlert. “Without the feasibility study showing a dramatic improvement [by creating a new city], right now I’d have to say no.”

But Sen. Fran Millar of Dunwoody, one of a number of local officials at the meeting, said the purpose of the proposed legislation was to explore the idea.

“There’s no plot here. There’s no conspiracy,” Millar said. “It’s something to look at. There’s a whole bunch of options out there.”

Jacobs, who lives in the Murphey Candler area, has had discussions about annexation or creation of a new city before in that area, where residents have publicly expressed dissatisfaction with DeKalb County’s government. Vocal opposition to the city of Brookhaven proposal has been expressed by residents of areas to the south, including residents of the Ashford Park and Drew Valley neighborhoods.

Dykuizen, who lives in Murphey Candler, said he has been working to recruit board members for Citizens for North DeKalb from throughout the study area. “I have made it my goal to reach out,” he said.

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.