Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-DeKalb, addresses fellow lawmakers at the state Capitol about the proposed new city of Brookhaven.
Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-DeKalb, addresses fellow lawmakers at the state Capitol about the proposed new city of Brookhaven.

Supporters of a city of Brookhaven were thrown a curveball when a legislative committee voted to change the name of the proposed DeKalb city to Ashford.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee held its third and final hearing Feb. 7 on a bill to create a city of Brookhaven. The committee voted to approve the bill, amended by changing the name of the city to Ashford. It will now be heard by the House Rules Committee before going up for a vote on the floor of the House of Representatives.

Rep. Ed Lindsey, R-Buckhead, proposed the amendment to change the name of the north DeKalb city from Brookhaven to Ashford. Lindsey said he lives in the Historic Brookhaven neighborhood, which straddles the line between the city of Atlanta and unincorporated DeKalb County.

“Historic Brookhaven has existed as an entity for over 100 years,” Lindsey said.

The neighborhood is not included in the boundaries of the proposed city, and Lindsey said many people are concerned about the name being used to describe a different area.

“It’s not just snobbery. It’s something my neighbors feel very strongly about,” Lindsey said.

He proposed using the name Ashford instead because it is attached to “a lot of landmarks in the area” and has “a distinct local flavor.” Lindsey said he also considered Oglethorpe as a name for the proposed city, but it was already taken by a town in southwest Georgia.

“In the end I felt the name Ashford had some significance for the people in the area,” Lindsey said.

Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-DeKalb, who authored the bill to create the city, argued that the name Brookhaven applies to more than the Historic Brookhaven neighborhood.

“I don’t think by the virtue of calling the city the city of Brookhaven that Historic Brookhaven ceases to be Historic Brookhaven,” Jacobs said. “It is a brand for this community in unincorporated DeKalb.”

Lindsey said he supports the efforts to incorporate a city in that area, but “a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”

After the hearing, Jacobs said he thinks the name could still change.

“I’ll look forward to hearing from the broader community about what they think about the name change,” Jacobs said. “On that subject, there are many further opportunities in the legislative process to make adjustments as we move forward.”

However, Jacobs said he was pleased that his bill made it through the first committee. “Forward progress is always a good thing. I’m encouraged about the final prospects for the bill,” Jacobs said.

Laurenthia Mesh, of the anti-city group Ashford Neighbors, said the name change will only add to the confusion of residents in the Brookhaven area.

“There isn’t enough time before July to get informed. A lot of people think Brookhaven is that little golf community. Now they’ll think Ashford is Ashford Dunwoody,” Mesh said. “This is a grave disservice to people who are happy here … and chose to live in unincorporated DeKalb County.”

J. Max Davis, president of the advocacy group BrookhavenYES, joked that the group might need a new name now, but the decision to call it Ashford doesn’t affect the boundaries of the city or anything else the group has been working toward. He said he is pleased that the bill was approved by the Governmental Affairs Committee.

“This is probably the biggest hurdle,” Davis said. “If it doesn’t pass committee you’re going nowhere.”

He called the Feb. 7 vote a historic step.

“The first brick has been laid for the foundation of that city today,” Davis said.