Briarcliff Lessons Learned & Next Steps

Where are we today? What was learned? What is next for Briarcliff?
Where are we today? What was learned? What is next for Briarcliff?
Preface: This communication was sent to Briarcliff email subscribers on Tuesday, 3/18/14. The day after Sen. Millar withdrew the Lakeside bill (SB 270). This essentially ended cityhood in this legislative session. See a posted copy of the email on BriarcliffGA.org - http://briarcliffga.org/lessons-learned-next-steps/

--- <begin 3/18 email> ---

On Tuesday, 3/18/14 we start the day as a divided community. All the problems you’ve expressed and that your neighbors have expressed remain unchanged. This is not the time to walk away.

With Senator Millar withdrawing Lakeside’s bill (SB 270) it appears that cityhood will not happen in DeKalb County this year. Those that supported and advocated for Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker spent thousands of hours working to improve our community. This work should AND WILL be celebrated in the coming weeks.

The mission of the City of Briarcliff Initiative was to see through the creation of Briarcliff. That remains the mission. Before the end of this decade the voters will likely vote in a solution to DeKalb cityhood. Get this wrong and DeKalb will continue its slide. If we get this right -- our area prospers -- we lift up DeKalb and the surrounding communities.

What we cannot do as residents is sit idle, expecting things to be done for us. We have many knowledgeable people on the community, experts on various snippets of what is needed to make a great community. We need these experts to volunteer a little bit of time to ensure the community is molded the right way. 

You’re Invited – Cityhood Recap Event:

In the coming weeks we will be hosting an event that reviews what happened in the cityhood process, both with Briarcliff and cityhood overall. We’ll discuss the good, the bad, and the lessons that will allow cityhood for central DeKalb. We cannot let retrenchment occur. We will be personally inviting leadership from Lakeside and Tucker and will celebrate the hard work they put in to improve the community. We may not agree 100% on the tactical approach of cityhood, but we universally agree that cityhood can and should be part of the solution to reforming DeKalb.


Introducing “Briarcliff Version 2.0

Loosely speaking Briarcliff as you know it is over. Internally we’ve referred to this as “Briarcliff Version 1.0.” We produced the most financially strong cityhood plan. We produced the most inclusive plan and did it without cherry picking. In many ways we see Briarcliff Version 1.0 as the best cityhood plan that was never considered. We had our hearing at the Capitol and like the other cityhood plans we didn’t make it through. Briarcliff Version 2.0 starts now.


We’ll discuss more about Briarcliff Version 2.0 at the recap event. Here’s a preview. Cityhood for our area presents some unique challenges via the fact that we are not a naturally united community. We are community of small neighborhoods, HOAs and school districts. We all chose to move to unincorporated DeKalb for one reason or another and many of us have been disappointed with status quo, and a lack for meaningful county reform.



Keith Hanks

Member of the Executive Board

Resident of Decatur, 30033, Unincorporated DeKalb County

Comment thread is open...

Tom Doolittle April 22, 2014 at 10:02 PM
The Brookhaven circus hits will keep coming over the next year, so any city-making effort that remotely resembles Brookhaven's will be burdened. Ours will have to be much more about buillding community and patient to have any chance against this "torrent of timult".
Cheryl Miller April 25, 2014 at 06:47 AM
Divide and conquer - also called "divide and rule" - has been the mantra from the school board for the past 10 years.
Tom Doolittle April 25, 2014 at 12:47 PM
Just sent the following request to Rep Scott Holcomb, the only legislator with a district that is wholly comprised of the North Central Dekalb "cityhood corridor": Hi Scott: I would think that any group (or movement) that expects to have a referendum move forward on forming a new city would have to gain clear credibility with the public before asking for one. (If that's the case, the question would become what process would accomplish that--and assumed it can't look like anything tried to date). That should have been clear before this last session, but definitely now. What would you say to that? Tom Doolittle
Dawn Forman April 28, 2014 at 12:54 PM
These are my observations for both Lakeside and Briarcliff: 1. Have transparency about where every donation comes from and who is backing you (politicians, law firms, corporations, etc), so that people know who is supporting the cityhood effort. Vague answers to where the donations and supporter for the studies led many to question who was behind these efforts and those pushing the cityhood movement. This lack of transparency also led people to question the ethics of those pushing these movements, and we all know lack of ethics in DeKalb government is already a huge issue. 2. Real dialogue about what people want to see happening in their community. Maybe a city isn't what is needed, but rather an organization or organizations that take on the issues that are most important to the community. I'm thinking the Blue Print that Kathy Gannon began, but has dropped the ball on. 3. Find a way to connect neighborhoods. 4. Have real dialogue and allow the people and their needs to dictate what happens, not what those running the show want to see happen. 5. Stop pushing this on people. I'm very open to change, but haven't seen any compelling reason by either cityhood group to move forward. I personally see other ways to get to solutions to the problems that we have that don't require a city. 6. Stop with the time frame and WWII analogy. Forming a city or another municipality takes time to be done right and shouldn't be pushed. It was a turn off! 7. Realize that many feel that our county needs to be worked on, before we add another layer of government. We understand that the county has issues, but also see issues in Dunwoody and Brookhaven and think that we'd be trading problems. We know the problems here, but not the problems of any new city and don't like the way that those pushing cityhood are being over bearing and not inclusive. 8. Lack of education of citizens. Many think that forming a new city will lead to getting rid of all of the ills of DeKalb. They do not really understand what being a city means. I'm from up North, where our counties do little for small cities, and running the entire city/town rests on the citizens of that town. Just last week, a woman upset with the pilot program of garbage cans and one day trash pickup ranted about wanting a city because she wanted more trash pick up days and wanted to use her own cans. Her issues will not be solved with any of the cities proposed. 9. The people that represent me in the legislation were not part of either city movement, yet my home was in both. I cannot vote in or out the people who were pushing Briarcliff or Lakeside and both effected me. All legislatures need to be heard and be apart of the process, if their constituents are part of a map. 10. Real discussions where people are able to ask questions and get answers. These discussions may be heated, but they need to happen, so that people can get informed on what cityhood really means and will look like. We need an open dialogue where people are free to speak their opinions and ask questions and get real answers. 11. What happens to the rest of DeKalb if another city is formed? 12. How viable are the cities with their moving maps? 13. What happens when a new city runs out of money and can't annex commercial property to help keep costs down? Can people afford to live in our area? Will our home values and this area be less desirable to live in because of high taxes? This has happened up North. 14. Many of the perks of those running Dunwoody and Brookhaven seem ridiculous to me. The perks and costs of these individuals is a large part of the city budget. Is this the best way to spend our dollars, or is working to changing DeKalb and electing new blood not tied in any way to the corruption that we continuously experience a better way for us to go?
Dawn Forman April 28, 2014 at 12:54 PM
I could go on. The Patch has done a great job on keeping people in the area affected by Cityhood informed. They have done a better job than either cityhood movement at keeping citizens informed. If either group wants to move ahead, I believe that gears need to be changed and that the people living here need to push the movement forward, and not a small group of people who have not been inclusive to all of the areas represented in their map. The condescending tones of people claiming that the older people don't want change is another turn off. I'm not old, but haven't seen any compelling argument to move forward and haven't seen anyone within the cityhood movement make an attempt to try and make the changes within the county that we all know are needed. I realize that watching and studying Brookhaven and Dunwoody that we won't necessarily have something better by forming a new city and in fact could have a new mess on our hands. I've also learned that when things aren't well thought out and are forced, that there are hidden agendas in play and that caution needs to be used. Let's start with what are the problems that we are having and how are ways that we can fix them? What resources already exist and how can we use these resources to make our neighborhoods better? If commissioners aren't listening to our needs and desires, let's run people against them that will. Let's keep it simple, before we add more complexity to an already complex issue.


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