Residents of the Dresden East community told representatives of the nonprofit group financing the study of a possible city of Brookhaven that they either want to be included in the study or have nearby commercial areas removed.

“It’s outrageous,” said resident Cheryl Huvard. “They’re taking the tax-producing properties and excluding the residences for their own purposes.”

More than 90 residents filled the cafeteria at Dresden Elementary School on Sept. 12 to say they feel they were excluded from the area being studied. The study, conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute at the University of Georgia, is due to be finished and released in October.

Residents said that if the commercial properties near their neighborhoods were included in a future city of Brookhaven and their neighborhoods were not, they would have little chance of ever being annexed into a city.

And, they said, if a future city followed the boundaries outlined by the study area, their neighborhoods would become “islands” of unincorporated DeKalb County surrounded by the cities of Chamblee and Brookhaven. The board of the Dresden East Civic Association, which represents eight neighborhoods containing about 1,200 homes, has formally opposed the boundaries of the study area, said DECA president Nikki VanDerGrinten.

“If they insist on not having us in the study area, then we want our commercial area back,” she said. “If they take our prime commercial area and [sometime in the future] we wanted to be part of Chamblee, why would they want us?”

Some residents seemed almost insulted that their neighborhoods were not included in the study.

“How did you come up with not including us?” resident Justin Childers asked representatives of the Citizens for North DeKalb, the group sponsoring the study. “Why did you choose to leave our neighborhoods out?”

Citizens for North DeKalb board members at the meeting said the area was drawn as an area to study and that no one was intentionally “left out.” “Nobody is out of anything,” board member J. Max Davis said. “This is a study area.”

Davis and other board members at the meeting said they would take the residents’ complaints to the group’s board for consideration at its next meeting.

Davis and Rep. Mike Jacobs, who introduced legislation creating the new city, said its boundaries are likely to be altered as the proposal works its way through the legislative process. To become a city, the proposal must win approval in the Legislature and from voters in the area.

Rep. Elena Parent, whose district includes the Dresden East area and who chaired the meeting, said she would oppose legislation to create a city of Brookhaven based on the study area. She drew enthusiastic applause when she referred to the study area’s “totally bizarre boundaries.”

“I personally don’t see the horrendous rush to get it done. … I just don’t see the rush,” Parent said, drawing widespread applause from the crowd. “I would be delighted to hold this up until we can have a broader study.”

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.