Brookhavenites – Get Thee to the Capitol on Tuesday!

The first of two hearings on Brookhaven cityhood is Tuesday, January 31. Legislators are hoping to hear from citizens on both sides of the local control issue.

Members of the cityhood advocacy group, Brookhaven Yes, think they will have no trouble convincing their neighbors to vote for more local control.

Group president J. Max Davis II, an attorney and namesake son of a late conservative state representative who touted that he never voted for a tax increase, said many DeKalb residents already feel the county is too bloated.

Those in Brookhaven want to reinforce that idea by voting for cityhood, he said. But the first goal is convincing lawmakers to allow the July 31 referendum.

“Our motto is ‘better services, lower taxes,’ but before we can discuss why we think we can do a better job of spending our money than the county, we have to get the right to vote,” Davis said.

The DeKalb County government, meanwhile, is officially lobbying for any vote to be delayed, so that more time could be spent studying what losing Brookhaven would mean for county coffers.

The revenue hit DeKalb would take is estimated to be a little over that of the Dunwoody defection, which totaled $20 million.

No wonder the county is urging delay.

In the meantime, make yourself heard. The hearing is at 3 p.m. in room 341 of the state Capitol.

10 comments

  1. Todd Rehm says:

    For those who support the City of Brookhaven and want to ride down with other like-minded folks, Brookhaven Yes! will be running a bus to the Capitol, leaving from the shopping center across from the Brookhaven MARTA station and other folks will be carpooling from the same location. Bus and carpools leave at 1:15 PM.

    To join the outing, R.s.v.p. here

  2. Dave Bearse says:

    It’s a process that needs to be slowed down. I couldn’t afford a half-day off either. I wrote the House Governmental Affairs Committee as a DeKalb resident of what would be one of the four unincorporated DeKalb islands north of I-85 that Brookhaven incorporation would result in:

    I reside in unincorporated DeKalb County north of I-85, but outside the limits of the proposed City of Brookhaven. I beseech you to slow the process down, and that a Brookhaven referendum not be allowed to occur prior to March 2014.

    The rush to incorporate Brookhaven undermines developing and evaluating alternatives that may prove superior to the residents of many areas within proposed Brookhaven boundaries. Beyond that, Brookhaven incorporation will likely destabilize the remainder of unincorporated DeKalb County north of I-85, and potentially could destabilize all or north DeKalb or the entire County.

    Brookhaven vis a vis Dunwoody. Brookhaven is being touted as being similar to Dunwoody. Brookhaven incorporation is a rush job compared to Dunwoody. The Vinson Institute study for Dunwoody was completed in 2005. The Dunwoody referendum occurred in 2008. I advocated above for a similar almost three year long period.

    Brookhaven’s different circumstances require a more thorough, deliberative process and vetting. Dunwoody was well-established geographically, and had community identity and a history of civic organization corresponding to its geographic limits long before incorporation. The proposed Brookhaven city limits encompass a substantially less cohesive community.

    There is a defined core Brookhaven area, but the proposed city limits include areas and neighborhoods to the north and east of that core that are independent and do not self-identify as Brookhaven. Some of these areas are identified more with other existing northern DeKalb municipalities, particularly Chamblee. Additional time is necessary for neighborhoods to weigh additional alternatives, and sort out their identity and best interests.

    Islands. Incorporation of Brookhaven as currently proposed will destabilize the remainder of unincorporated DeKalb County north of I-85. The remaining unincorporated area would consist of four islands, considering the 12 to 14 lane 220,000-250,000 vehicle per day I-85 as the barrier that it is. Only two roads, Shallowford and Chamblee-Tucker Rd, cross the 3.3 miles along I-85 between Clairmont Rd, the proposed Brookhaven border, and I-285. Altogether four overpasses (excluding I-285 as an overpass) along the five miles of I-85 north of Clairmont Rd in DeKalb County is a tenuous connection to more than 20,000 residents scattered amongst four distinct islands. Congestion on the few roads connecting the islands to the rest of DeKalb is worst at I-85 interchanges, adding traffic to the physical barrier of I-85, and increasing police response time.

    Cherry-Picking. Proposed Brookhaven boundaries are in one instance blatantly cherry-picking commercial property. The approximately 60 acres east of Clarimont Rd (my rudimentary approximation) within the proposed city limits is all or nearly all commercial property. This property juts out from the otherwise smooth Clairmont Rd contour of the proposed city. I expect this property has less than 100 residents, maybe even as low as single digits. (To the best of my knowledge there are at most a handful of homes, and no apartment buildings on that property.)

    The area has a Chamblee identity, if anything. It is a critical part of the commercial tax base that supports the unincorporated DeKalb Dresden East residential area directly across Buford Highway. The General Assembly wouldn’t give an already existing Brookhaven that didn’t include this property the discretion to annex it without Chamblee or DeKalb County having a say. So why would the General Assembly in effect allow a non-existent Brookhaven to do so?

    Domino Effect. The Clairmont Rd boundary south of Buford Hwy also cuts off Dresden East from other of its nearby supporting commercial tax base (which is why the cherry-picking above is egregious). The cutting off of the Dresden East residential area from its adjacent commercial tax base is giving rise to fear in what would be the remaining islands of unincorporated DeKalb County islands north of I-85. It’s fear that may spread across I-85 to the east and south, in which case could result in a hasty and destabilizing domino effect across the rest of north DeKalb, if not the entire County.

    Other unincorporated north DeKalb communities such as Tucker scrambling to stake claims on large swaths of commercial property and incorporate would leave even more unincorporated residential islands without any commercial tax base in the wake (pun intended). The General Assembly can say it won’t let that happen, but it seems to me the current proposed Brookhaven city limits are doing that very thing right now in the smaller scale in DeKalb County north of I-85!

    More Time and Consideration are Necessary and Prudent. A proposed City of Brookhaven referendum should not go forward until at minimum there has been more time and consideration given to unincorporated DeKalb County north of I-85 as a whole. Alternative plans should be developed and vetted that include Chamblee, Doraville and many even Dunwoody annexations, and that would create efficient logical boundaries devoid of islands. Yes I have a personal stake as a resident of an unincorporated DeKalb island north of I-85, but I’m also concerned that the local government of state’s third more populous county could be broadly destabilized and fragmentation increased at a time when focus should be on regional cooperation and economic development to restore the local economy.

    Slow it down. There are no significant benefits to rushing to Brookhaven incorporation. There are however potentially wide-ranging and significant adverse effects. Please slow the Brookhaven incorporation process down to insure it’s done right.

    Thank you for your time reading this lengthy e-mail:

  3. bgsmallz says:

    I’m pretty sure I can safely speak for everyone and say that no one read anything between the start and finish of your post.

    No…actually I read most of it. I’m a sucker for fiction.

    • elfiii says:

      Amen.

      Had Manuel Maloof not insisted on his grandiose “City of Dekalb” scheme and allowed Dekalb to operate just like all of the rest of the counties in this state regarding municipal incorporations these battles would have been fought and finished a long time ago. Since he had a Democrat majority running this state they eagerly acquiesced to Manuel’s overreach.

      Now that the Republicans have control Manuel’s ridiculous scheme has been nullified and the rush is on to incorporate and get out from underneath the ridiculously burdensome Dekalb County government.

      Those of you in unincorporated Dekalb need to get on the bandwagon. Either find a city to annex into or create one of your own. Or, just stick with the loser county government in Decatur. Its’ your choice. Don’t punish the rest of us for exercising ours.

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