A House Governmental Affairs subcommittee voted 3-1 on Friday to set the boundary between the proposed DeKalb County cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker. The boundary settles the dispute between the two cityhood movements over the disposition of the Northlake Mall area, a commercial hub that would provide much of the property tax base both cities want. The vote was 3-1, with Chairman Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming), and Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) voting in favor of the boundaries, and Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta) voting against.
As you can see in the map to the right, those living outside the perimeter south of I-85 were placed in LaVista Hills. At a public hearing earlier this month, that seemed to be the wishes of that area’s residents. The real challenge, however, was dividing Northlake, which was done by placing parcels north of LaVista Road in LaVista Hills, while making the area south of LaVista part of Tucker. You can see more detail by clicking on the map.
The end result is that Northlake Mall, along with several hotels and other offices will be in LaVista Hills, while the Northlake Tower Festival shopping center and some manufacturing and office/warehouse space will be in Tucker. This is what a representative of the business community in the Northlake area said he didn’t want during this month’s hearing.
According to the AJC, representatives of Tucker and LaVista Hills cityhood movements vowed to move forward:
Mary Kay Woodworth, the co-chairwoman of LaVista Hills Yes, wants to move ahead with incorporation but said dividing the Northlake Mall retail area would cause problems for policing and land use planning.
“It splits the business community,” she said. “We’re going to see how we can make it work.”
Michelle Penkava of Tucker 2015 said the compromise map provides the area with a path toward cityhood after squabbles over borders scuttled proposals in the Legislature earlier this year.
“Our hearts are with those who are rejoicing and those who are being pulled out of their community,” Penkava said. “We’re looking forward to moving ahead.”
While the boundary along I-285 is settled, there may be further changes to the maps before they are voted on. Brookhaven has annexed Children’s Healthcare and Executive Park, which would have been part of the proposed city of LaVista Hills. The city of Stone Mountain has indicated an interest in annexing area long Mountain Industrial Boulevard in would-be Tucker, while the city of Atlanta is pitching an annexation of the Emory – CDC area north of Decatur.
The next step for each peoposed city would be to find a sponsor for its cityhood bill, and secure passage in the legislature. After that, residents in the proposed cities would need to vote in favor of the move. In other words, there’s still a long way to go before either group can put up a city limits signs.