Members of the DeKalb County Legislative Delegation met with advocates for creating new cities Jan. 9 in an effort to untangle the mess of overlapping proposals in the central area of the county.
The proposed cities of Briarcliff, Lakeside and Tucker all overlap in the area of Northlake Mall. Representatives from each group made presentations about their plans and took questions from legislators. A fourth group, hoping to incorporate a city of Stonecrest in southeast DeKalb, also made a presentation.
“This is an important issue for DeKalb County and we want to make sure we hear from different cityhood proposals so we can make the best decisions,” said Rep. Howard Mosby, D-Atlanta, chairman of the delegation.
To make matters more complicated, existing cities are also looking to expand their borders.
“Every city in DeKalb County has had plans to annex except for Dunwoody,” said Mark Baggett, managing director of the DeKalb Municipal Association.
Allen Venet, president of the City of Briarcliff Initiative, said his group’s proposal would create a large, inclusive city.
“The borders of Briarcliff are sensible. They’re logical,” Venet said. “We are not reaching out and grabbing any commercial properties. It’s the fairest approach.”
He said his organization believes two of the three cities could coexist in the area.
“We’ve had some friendly discussions with Tucker and we agree on a great deal with Tucker,” Venet said. “We absolutely think Tucker should be a city.”
Mary Kay Woodworth, the chairwoman of the Lakeside City Alliance, said her organization was the first to propose incorporating a city in the area. She said it has been a grassroots effort from people tired of the status quo.
“We have had over 75 meetings in the community over the last 12 months, large and small,” Woodworth said. “We feel we’ve reached out to the best of our ability to get this information out to the community.”
Woodworth said despite their efforts, the Lakeside City Alliance has not been able to come to resolve the border disputes with competing groups.
“We have tried. We have met with Tucker several times and are having a difficult time coming to a resolution,” Woodworth said.“We have different ideas of what should be Lakeside and what should be Tucker.”
Frank Auman of Tucker 2014, said one of the reasons his group wants to form a city is to keep the Tucker community intact. He said many residents were concerned when they saw portions of what they considered to be Tucker drawn into other maps for new cities.
“Our concern was, Tucker’s about to lose its identity,” Auman said.
Auman said what makes Tucker different from the other cityhood efforts is that it has a longstanding community history. There are highway signs that tell you how to get to Tucker and a downtown area, he said.
“People know Tucker is a place,” Auman said. “A lot of people already think it’s a city.”
Mosby encouraged the groups to continue working together to try to reach a resolution for their conflicting maps.
“We’ll be interested in any negotiated agreements between the parties,” Mosby said. “We will have to work this out in some way, form or fashion.”