Brookhaven YES supporters await voting results from DeKalb County at Pub 71 on July 31.
Brookhaven YES supporters await voting results from DeKalb County at Pub 71 on July 31.

Nearly 55 percent of Brookhaven’s voters on Tuesday, July 31, approved creating a new city in their community.

With 12 out of 12 precincts reporting, 54.61 percent of voters approved the measure while 45.39 percent voted against. All votes are in.

J. Max Davis, president of pro-cityhood group Brookhaven Yes, thanked supporters for their time and their effort.

“It happened with ordinary people from all walks of life,” he said.

State Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, a co-sponser of the bill to incorporate a city of Brookhaven, talks to Brookhaven YES supporters July 31 at Pub 71.

Brookhaven is the seventh city to incorporate since Sandy Springs was created in 2005. It is the second in DeKalb County, following the creation of Dunwoody in 2009.

Brookhaven will replace Dunwoody as the largest city in DeKalb, with an estimated population of 49,000. It will be formed in the area between Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Chamblee and I-85.

Now that the city of Brookhaven has been approved, Gov. Nathan Deal will appoint a five-member commission to get the city off the ground.

The commission will include at least one member from each city council district. Commission members may not be candidates for elected office, according to the legislation creating the city.

The commission will hold a training session for potential candidates for mayor and city council. It also is charged in the law with preparing a written report for the new council regarding the backgrounds and qualifications of candidates for city manager, city attorney, city clerk and city accountant; preparing a plan for privatizing as many city services as possible; and finding a location for city offices.

City council elections will be held during the general election in November.  Residents will select four city council members and a mayor.

The city is scheduled by law to officially begin operations on Dec. 17. But the law calls for a phase-in period, during which DeKalb County will continue to provide services to the area until the city is ready to take over, that can last up to two years.

Brookhaven YES supporters gathered at Pub 71 July 31 to wait for the results of a referendum to create a city of Brookhaven. Chris Elvesier, third from left, said for much of the night it was too close to call. ” We appreciate the wide support from the citizens of Brookhaven, both financially and through volunteer efforts. Brookhaven will be a great city to live in.”

The city of Brookhaven effort began two years ago when Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-DeKalb, filed House Bill 636, a bill to incorporate and provide a charter for a city of Brookhaven in DeKalb County.

A volunteer group called Citizens for North DeKalb formed to fund a study into the feasibility of the city of Brookhaven. The study, conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, concluded that the city could operate without raising taxes above the level currently levied by DeKalb County.

House Bill 636 jumped through several hoops at the Capitol, including an effort to change the name of the city Brookhaven to Ashford, but was approved in the final hours of the 2012 legislative session.

Jacobs said the community needs to move past the divisive conversation about cityhood.

“Now is the time for all of us to come together as a community, proponents and opponents, to build something great that was started today: a city of Brookhaven,” Jacobs said.

– Associate Editor/ Digital Content Manager Dan Whisenhunt contributed to this story