Brookhaven could grow by about 300 acres and nearly 2,000 people by the end of the year if the City Council agrees to annex the LaVista Park community just south of Executive Park.
The LaVista Park Civic Association submitted a request to have its community annexed into Brookhaven in October. The request was scheduled to go before the Planning Commission on Dec. 4 and then for a final vote by the City Council on Dec. 10. The association is applying for annexation using the city’s rule to get at least 60% of about 1,100 registered voters and at least 60% of more than 600 property owners sign a petition agreeing to be annexed.
“Primarily we are asking to be annexed for two reasons: one, because we desire a seat at the table with the development of Children’s Health Care of Atlanta and, two, because of Emory’s planned redevelopment of Executive Park,” said Larry Hoskins, president of the civic association.
“Emory has been really great about keeping us informed about what they are doing, but we want to preserve our right at the table as residents of the city to ensure we are listened to,” Hoskins said. “As residents of unincorporated DeKalb, the city doesn’t have to give our concerns equal weight.”
LaVista Park is bordered by LaVista Road, Briarcliff Road, Chantilly Drive and Sheridan Road. The area is mostly residential with some small commercial businesses located mostly along Briarcliff Road.
Hoskins said residents also wanted to be annexed into Brookhaven because DeKalb County has not provided needed services, such as paving of roads, parks maintenance and stormwater repairs.
Recently, residents on Citadel Drive celebrated the 5-year anniversary of a sink hole, Hoskins said. The placed balloons on the hole and posted pictures to social media. Finally, he said, the county came out to fix it.
“Our roads haven’t been paved for 20 years, we’ve had sporadic service from police not showing up,” he said. “It’s extremely frustrating trying to get the county to do the work.”
LaVista Park was at one time included in a map of the proposed city of LaVista Hills but requested to be removed. That city failed. The proposed city of Vista Grove did not include LaVista Park because residents said they did not want to be part of that city.
“There is a lot of opinions about DeKalb following Fulton and becoming fully municipalized,” Hoskins said. “Brookhaven is a known entity and that made [annexation] a simple decision for us.”
The city recently approved a policy to place property owners annexed into the city into a “special tax district” and pay DeKalb County’s higher tax rates to cover costs for infrastructure improvements in their neighborhoods.
City leaders say the new policy ensures tax dollars from existing property owners aren’t used to fix what the county failed to do. There is no cap to the amount of time a special tax district is in place. If LaVista Park is approved to be annexed into the city, it will be the first area to be placed into such a special tax district.
Hoskins said he wished he knew about this policy before he and the association began petitioning people to be annexed into Brookhaven.
“But we understand why they are doing it,” he said. “They want to be sure they are not sacrificing services to the existing tax base and residents to come in and clean up what the county has not addressed for years.”
The city will have a year to analyze conditions of LaVista Park, such as its roads, parks, sidewalks to determine what deficiencies there are and how much it will cost to repair them. The city would then go over its estimates with LaVista Park residents, Hoskins said.
The city’s policy then allows Brookhaven to borrow the money needed to make all the necessary repairs with the money paid by property owners in the special tax district going toward paying off that debt.
“The good news is we get the work done, sooner than if we had to wait for the revenue to be generated on its own,” Hoskins said. “We can look at this as a negative or positive, and I’m looking at it as we are finally getting the services we’ve been paying for.”
Last year, the city annexed the 217 parcels of the Enclave at Briarcliff Condominiums located on Westchester Ridge, adjacent to the CHOA development at the I-85 and North Druid Hills Road interchange.