Supporters of forming cities of Briarcliff and Tucker asked the House Governmental Affairs Committee to consider recommending approval for both of their cities.
Supporters and opponents of the cityhood efforts spoke at one-hour hearings for the proposed cities of Briarcliff and Lakeside on March 6.
Three groups — the City of Briarcliff Initiative, the Lakeside City Alliance and Tucker 2014 — are vying to create new cities across a swath of central DeKalb County that runs from the city of Atlanta to the Gwinnett County line. The three proposals overlap in the area of Northlake Mall.
The committee held a hearing on Tucker last week and chose to hold hearings on the other two bills even though Crossover Day — the day bills usually must be approved by either the House of Representatives or the Senate in order to have time to be considered by the other chamber before the end of the Legislative session — was March 3. The bill to create the city of Lakeside was approved by the Senate before Crossover Day.
Allen Venet, president of the City of Briarcliff Initiative, said his group drew the borders of their proposed city to be as inclusive as possible without infringing on existing cities’ plans for annexation.
“Briarcliff is the only proposal inside the Perimeter that gives everyone the right to vote,” Venet said. “The borders should be logical, the borders should make sense. We do not believe there should be any orphaned communities.”
Venet asked the committee to support both Briarcliff and Tucker, using I-285 as the dividing line. Frank Auman of Tucker 2014, agreed that Briarcliff and Tucker could work out their boundaries to coexist.
“We can in very short order reach an agreement on the small area of overlap,” Auman said.
Kevin Levitas, co-chair of the Lakeside City Alliance, said his organization has held numerous community meetings and been responsive to people’s input.
“We have changed iterations of the map to conform to what people want,” Levitas said.
Levitas urged the committee to move the Lakeside bill forward.
“What we’re asking for is the right to vote,” Levitas said. “If this bill doesn’t go through, cityhood is dead in DeKalb County.”
DeKalb County CEO Lee May asked the committee to consider supporting a one-year “cooling off period” before approving the incorporation of any new cities.
He said the committee members have been put in a tough position to decide what should happen with the cityhood proposals.
“You’re now called to make a decision from outside DeKalb County about the future of DeKalb County,” May said.
Rep. Amy Carter (R-Valdosta), chairwoman of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, said the committee will likely meet again next week to hear from members of the DeKalb County delegation before making any recommendations. No date has been set.
“It is my intention to begin discussion with the committee their thoughts on how the process should move forward,” Carter said.