As the 2014 Legislative session nears, advocacy groups are eagerly awaiting or brandishing new studies that will show if their desires to create new cities in their community are feasible.
Currently, there are three groups vying to incorporate cities in north-central DeKalb County. Maps for the proposed cities of Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker are all slightly different, but they overlap in the area around Northlake Mall.
The Lakeside City Alliance recently received a report from the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia that its proposal would make a viable city.
Sonja Szubski, with Tucker 2014, said her organization is concerned because many of the neighborhoods she considers to be part of Tucker are included in the Lakeside map.
“With just the proposed city of Lakeside, we overlap in the heart of our Tucker neighborhoods,” Szubski said. “They go from I-85 all the way down Chamblee Tucker Road and they include Henderson Park, which historically has been maintained by a Tucker volunteer group and surrounding and supporting neighborhoods.”
She said Tucker has always been a defined community and they’d like to solidify that by incorporating.
“The impetus for Tucker is to retain our community,” Szubski said. “We have a heart in terms of a main street and a thriving business community.”
Szubski said the Andrew Young School of Policy Studies at Georgia State University is studying the feasibility of a city of Tucker. The feasibility studies for the proposed cities of Lakeside and Briarcliff and Stonecrest in Southeast DeKalb are being conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute.
“The team we have working for us is top notch. They’ve been willing to work with us and give us a very in-depth study,” Szubski said. “It might have some features that the others may not.”
In a press release, Allen Venet, the president of the City of Briarcliff Initiative, said advocates of Briarcliff are eager to compare the results of their own feasibility study to the other study results.
He said the completion of the studies will be an opportunity to reconcile the issues and divisions among the competing proposals.
“The residents of each area that actively raised thousands of dollars for these studies deserve a chance to vote on whether they want to incorporate as new cities— not just Lakeside but Briarcliff, Tucker, and Stonecrest,” Venet said.
“We hope that the Legislature will give everyone in the area the right to choose the style of government that they prefer. The people of central DeKalb County and their civic associations want a voice in creating their futures. Completion of the feasibility studies is important, but it is just one part of a process that should end by allowing everyone the opportunity to vote.”
The City of Briarcliff Initiative is hoping to create a city between I-85 and the city of Decatur.
Szubski said she realizes getting Legislative approval to create a city will be more challenging this year. In the past, when cities such as Brookhaven and Dunwoody were approved by the Georgia General Assembly, there were no other cityhood bills competing for legislators’ attention.
“It certainly is going to be a unique situation this session because there are a total of four cityhood bills that need to be looked at and I believe several annexation bills from existing cities in DeKalb County,” Szubski said.
“The committees that will be making these decisions will certainly have their plates full.”