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AJC: Sagamore Hills, North Briarcliff Considering Cityhood

Though no official moves have been made, a local community leader told the newspaper residents in both communities have been inspired by the incorporation of Brookhaven.

Residents in the Sagamore Hills and North Briarcliff communities are exploring cityhood options as new municipalities in northern DeKalb County place more fianancial pressure on residents in unincorporated areas, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported Sunday.

The communities have been inspired by the recent vote to incorporate Brookhaven's 49,000 residents, the newspaper reported. News about Sagamore Hills and North Briarcliff was included in a larger story about the cityhood and annexation movement across northern DeKalb County that's claimed Dunwoody and Brookhaven while Chamblee and Decatur both chase large expansions into unincorporated territory.

From the story:

Nancy Love, a leader of the [Civic Association Network], an umbrella group trying to pull north-central DeKalb civic associations together, said the referendum in July to form Brookhaven, a city with 49,000 residents, has caused its neighbors to start buzzing about their options. She thinks a combination of areas south of I-85, bookended by Northlake Mall on the east and the proposed commercial development near North Druid Hills Road on the west, might make for a natural city.

"There's a lot of confusion as to what would be best," said Love, who lives in the Sagamore Hills area. "There's a substantial number of people who are serious at this point. But they don't feel they are ready to have their names in public discussion."

An AJC graphic also said the Druid Hills community is considering cityhood in addition to Sagamore Hills and North Briarcliff.

Love's organization, the Civic Association Network, represents neighborhood associations from communities including Medlock, Sagamore Hills, North Briarcliff, Dresden East, Lavista Park, Leafmore-Creek Park Hills and Laurel Ridge, totaling roughly 15,000 households. The North Briarcliff Civic Association is the largest in the North Druid Hills-Briarcliff area, however, representing 3,000 households.

Jeff Rader, DeKalb County's commissioner for District 2, told the AJC there was only one way to quell cityhood talk – pass a county budget with no tax increase next year.

"If we can keep the millage rate stable, we'll look like we're doing our part," he said.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The AJC story has not appeared online yet (as far as I can tell). When and if it does, I will link out to it in this story.

What do you think of the idea of forming a new city (or cities) in the North Briarcliff and Sagamore Hills area? Tell us in the comments section below.

ITPNative September 25, 2012 at 05:33 PM
@Jonathan Cribbs - absolutely, sort of like we are in the Wild, Wild, West - we have no name - In my 20s, I was upset that we didn't have the cool factor like Virginia-Highlands or Little Five Points or now, the "Westside", but in my 30's, I appreciate living under the radar in a top secret pocket of the ATL where it takes only 15 minutes to get anywhere, with decent schools, big yards, neighborhood pools, a government that mostly leaves me alone, but picks up my trash 4 days a week, and highly educated neighbors. What more could you ask for - maybe some additional sidewalks and perhaps a Trader Joes?
Jonathan Cribbs September 25, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Again with the Trader Joe's. I'm beginning to think Trader Joe's is transitioning more and more from a grocery store to a fetish in the minds of many in the Atlanta area.
ITPNative September 25, 2012 at 06:12 PM
Honestly, I could take or leave Trader Joes, it is just always fun to mention. The real game changer will be when the flagship QT opens with soft serve ice cream with mix-in options.
Jonathan Cribbs September 26, 2012 at 10:13 AM
You talking about the QT coming at Clairmont and Briarcliff?
Medlock Park Resident September 26, 2012 at 11:53 AM
What areas would be included in these "cities"? Where would Medlock Park fall?
Sally September 26, 2012 at 01:11 PM
That is the way all the "changes" happen. Remember RIOD? Those folks tried to scope out who would be for it and who would be against it. Then actively worked to keep those against it unaware until it was almost too late to stop it.
Sally September 26, 2012 at 01:17 PM
Right now, I'm probably in favor of it. Mostly because we are the only north Dekalb area still under the lousy Dekalb County government. As we have been seeing for awhile now. The majority of Dekalb County government only wants to put resources into south Dekalb. I am sick to death of the corruption and bad governance of Dekalb County. What a shame. Dekalb County used to be where people came to escape bad government. Of course, having said that....... I'm not 100% sure we would get good government from the liberal crew in this area either. Someone said we have good schools. Really? Then why are we at risk of losing accreditation.
Lucas Roberts September 26, 2012 at 01:32 PM
Im in Sally's boat. I keep seeing money being throw at South DeKalb
Tom Doolittle September 26, 2012 at 08:13 PM
Its interesting that annexation and new cities happen in many places in the US without a fight from county government. Its also interesting that suburban cities have school systems and adjacent cities have shared schools--rather than county school systems. Obviously a transition would need to occur to divest services at the county level and cede them to cities--and either the entire county would be made up of adjacent cities or remaining unincorporated areas would buy city services. In Georgia, that would mean "urbanized" counties would be legislated differently than rural ones. All needed or those remaining outside of cities will pay more and more of the urban services that we currently have as more cities are formed. Seems to me we need a two year moratorium on city formation legislated from the Gold Dome while this is worked out--instead of the Republican legislature stoking this fire. Without this you get a Druid Hills/Sagamore with no natural center, no common sense boundaries, no history of cohesive local leadership organizations, acrimony...sounds like most government-by-referendum, no?
HamBurger September 26, 2012 at 10:20 PM
Folks, careful of what the people that will be pushing your new city foists upon you. They will be organizing early in well funded numbers, fabricate a Vinson study, and manipulate the numbers to lull you into a sense of government security. Unincorporated DeKalb was once a well kept secret. I have lost mine; I hope you do not loose yours. Work hard to make changes to your existing government and school system and enlist the assistance of your elected state officials. If they won’t help, vote them out and find someone that will. Study all you can about Dunwoody and Brookhaven’s path to cityhood. The Brookhaven forums on the Patch will show you how divisive the new city has been in the various new city neighborhoods. And, if this issue comes to a vote and your area looses, and you want to live in a city, you can always move to Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Milton, Peachtree Corners, or Brookhaven. Track the names and if possible follow the dollars. Reading assignments, research them well: The Other Dunwoody – Research Index For City Related Posts http://theotherdunwoody.blogspot.com/ The Other Dunwoody – Be Sure To Review Older Posts http://theotherbrookhaven.blogspot.com/ Rep. Mike Jacobs – Scroll To Beginning And Read Forward To Track Cityhood http://repjacobs.com/ Brookhaven Patch http://brookhaven.patch.com/ Brookhaven Reporter http://www.reporternewspapers.net/ Special hamburger and a Cheerwine anyone?
Eric H September 27, 2012 at 03:25 PM
I think it makes perfect sense to study the incorporation into different cities of the entire county or different counties. And I and others have called for that since before Dunwoody was incorporated. Yet the County has not undertaken that. When Dunwoody happened the writing was on the wall. The Chamblee annexation of land up to Dunwoody's and Doraville's border at 285 was further indication of that. Had the study started we would be well past 2 years now. But all is not lost, if Chamblee annexes to the south/I85 this November then there is a fairly clean line along 85 that actually makes the incorporation study easier since it covers a smaller area. DeKalb doesn't need a moratorium or an act of the legislature, they should serve their constituents and begin the process of looking into how the rest of the county can be sensibly put into various cities. The process didn't kill Fulton, and if the County aggressively adjusts its focus and staffing as the new cities take over a limited set of roles the County can also become stronger. After all even for those living in cities in DeKalb, the majority of our County property taxes (not even including schools) still goes to the County, so we all still have an interest in seeing the County prosper.
Eric H September 27, 2012 at 03:48 PM
"how divisive the new city has been" including the disclosure of non relevant personal information and/or personal attacks on identifiable posters by a few anonymous posters. The bright side is the Patch is getting more clicks, add revenues from the candidates = they are cool with it. And the campaign flyer printing business and other local papers have also benefited from increased revenues. And some of the local restaurants/pubs have benefited from increased revenues from campaign events and from what I hear on the patch secret strategizing sessions held at a numbered pub. Another good thing about doing a cityhood vote is you will experience a period of increased attention and services from the county. Granted like dating once this election is over you may suffer from a rebound effect where your suitor is either rejected and then leaves and the new person can't deliver, or your suitor wins and realizes the competition is gone and is now too tired to care. Anyway, Mr. HamBurger is right as far as Brookhaven, we aren't Dunwoody and it was very divisive. Though in someways I think that could be helpful. I also agree: You can always move to an incorporated area in DeKalb. It definitely won't effect the Schools. That is a separate county function that even the commissioners don't control. And you will still be in DeKalb and most of your tax dollars will still go to them. But that's not necessarily a bad thing.
Tom Doolittle September 27, 2012 at 04:24 PM
Eric--you said "It definitely won't effect the Schools." I say, "yet". On one level, city limits may one day be the principal determinant for school zone boundaries. Not yet--but maybe when there are enough of them. Ideally, high school zones are at least in theory good approximations of well networked communities. However, its the next level that should make us twitch a bit: Cityhood dovetails with the proliferation of charter schools. The same drivers for forming new cities exist for forming what will become the largest growing subset of state-sponsored charters...those being in affluent, well organized communities with no end of access to unelected "deciders". Heck-- existing cities are already sponsoring charter schools--note the bonds issued by the city economic development department in Alpharetta for charter school construction.
Eric H September 27, 2012 at 04:41 PM
Tom good point, and a real concern re Charter Schools. I hope we don't repeat the mistakes of the past and recognize the state and region have to be actively involved in assuring that School systems don't devolve into the haves and have nots. Giving all our youth good access to a good education is as important to protecting our future as the military is.
Tom Doolittle September 27, 2012 at 06:48 PM
For every one charter school in the Lithonias of the world (low-performing schools), four will be opened (probably constructed too) in areas with means. Racket, pure and simple. Any guesses how many commission approved charter schools we'll have within five years in DeKalb if the November vote passes?
Sally September 28, 2012 at 10:23 PM
Gosh, I would HOPE it would lead to a better school system. Be that charter or a different school system separate from Dekalb County.
Eric H September 28, 2012 at 10:29 PM
The below link is for an Interesting article which has good substantive posts discussing both sides of the Charter School . http://clatl.com/freshloaf/archives/2012/09/25/georgia-charter-schools-amendment-opposition-ramps-up
Ms. September 28, 2012 at 11:21 PM
Couldn't respond to Eric above for some reason. Eric- I wouldn't like to see schools further devolve into the have and have nots, but that's where we are now. So at what point do you break yourself away from the ingrained corruption that will never change in Dekalb? Sure there are some good schools, but the board & superintendent overall are dishonest and have no interest in backing away from their business as usual attitudes. Only a few are willing to acknowledge it, while the others just want to hide all their deeds and communication like cowards. How much debt do they need to be in 70 million, 100 mill, 200 mill, 300 mill, before people realize, this isn't working?
Eric H September 29, 2012 at 01:24 AM
Ms. good point. And I'll readily admit I don't the state of public schools, problems and possible solutions is not something I'm well versed in. My personal experience with the Chamblee High School was that the teachers seemed to be overwhelmed and it was difficult to keep track of your kids progress/status. Anyway, it seems everyone agrees we must do something about the drop out rate and we don't want to see a further divide in education availability to the kids who were born in to the have and have not camps. So the question is what is the answer. The GA Charter bill seems to have some flaws as pointed out by sources I respect. But I don't have a firm opinion because I'll admit I don't know enough yet.
Tom Doolittle September 30, 2012 at 04:10 PM
Interesting how the original discussion about Druid, etc citihood can easily morph into a thread about possible PROLIFERATION of charter schools under a new (activist) charter school commission. Keep that in mind, because many people easily can see the connection between the two--in political and financial motivation and ultimate effect. Exoficio new city schools would mean: 1) channels for bonds and infrastructure spending (see Alpharetta) 2) real estate deals in a new economy with no private sector demand 3) business for "playas" traditionally left out of county business 4) (more) school bus and other contracts There's more of course than even my furtive imagination can immediately come up with. This would literally be a PARALLEL education and new city industrial complex (we already have one). That's enuf motivation to "turn" even the most honest of legislators--way beyond the radical conservative agenda of wrecking the traditional neighborhood school system.
Tom Doolittle October 23, 2012 at 01:50 PM
Eric--here you go--note reference to new city school systems http://www.thecrier.net/our_columnists/article_5bd46dc2-121d-11e2-a5cb-001a4bcf887a.html
Eric H October 23, 2012 at 05:03 PM
thanks Tom. I don't believe Brookhaven, Doraville or Chamblee fall neatly into school districts. I wonder how they would deal with that. And would passage of the Charter School bill help that city school bill pass or hinder its passage?
Tom Doolittle October 23, 2012 at 05:29 PM
I suppose you mean school "zones". DeKalb is a "district" and a city school system would be a "district". So the current boundaries for public schools (er--real public schools, including conversion charters like Chamblee) overlap several jurisdictions. Presumably, those school zones would remain intact. What this conjures is the mess that I referred to in my blog piece. Its a law that is fundamnetally underpinned by charter schools being defined as "community" schools, but leaves the definition of "community" to be made by the applicant. It also is only one example where implementation of the law is more than unclear--its unimaginable. On the charters as city schools issue: so you have Cross Keys serving Brook/Cham, but someone starts a charter high school in both cities and defines their "community" as the city. Private school kids flood applications into their city's new schools. Assuming the lotteries for each are fair and don't penalize low-income students (at Cross Keys), 50% of Cross Keys leaves. You still have a multi-jurisdictional public school, but now have two (popular) city schools defined by their "community". The city-school system legislation then goes thru and the entirely new impetus exists in public schools. Underutilized public school buildings and charter schools that will continue adding space until the county school has no students.
Tom Doolittle October 23, 2012 at 05:33 PM
Here is a comment from the Crier, probably clearer than my article: "A couple of concerns - we currently have a law in Georgia which affords an appeals process to petitioners who have been denied a charter by a local board. Why isn't this adequate? The enabling legislation, HB 797, allows charter petitioners the option to declare a state-wide attendance zone and submit directly to the 7 member appointed commission. You may not feel that you have a voice with your locally elected school board ( maybe you are on the school board?) but I can guarantee that you will not have a voice with the Charter Commission. Why is this a beter option. What does the 7 member commission know about the hundreds of communities around Georgia? How are they supposed to determine if the petitioner is actually filling a gap in the local community? What recourse does any taxpayer have if a petitioner wants to compete with a school that is not failing? How many "competing schools" can our taxes subsidize? There is nothing in HB 797 which specifies where state schools can be set up. What is the budget for state charter schools 5 - 10 years down the road? Where is the money coming from? Who will monitor the schools? None of these questions have been answered in the legislation or by our legislators or governor. I don't like writing blank checks. The devil is in LACK of details in the case of Amendment 1. I will be voting NO."
Eric H October 23, 2012 at 05:36 PM
You are saying the city school would be a new school? As in build one or buy a building and convert it? Seems expensive.
Tom Doolittle October 23, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Eric--I'm not sure if you're question is tongue-in-cheek or not. If it isn't, we can include your nature to believe our leaders do things in good faith as one of the issues that will deliver a "yes" vote regarding 100% funding and establish Charter School Commission--and allow the unlimited proliferation of new charter schools (not conversion charters, which convert current schools). The entire intent of the new law is to remove the funding and procedural "caution" to forming independent schools. The only way those schools will inhabit existing school buildings is if the school buildings empty out (that will take years) or empty to a point where a (privatized) charter operation can co-inhabit the traditional schools' buildings. This is once again, just another example of how no-one but the lobbyists and purveyors of this hellish madness have thought ahead and detailed how this will look in our communities. It is precisely the approach that was used to intitiate TSPLOST--and much of the reason that it was rejected--throwing crap against the wall and seeing what sticks. However, in this case, we are led to believe THIS initiative will not cost us a dime, unlike TSPLOST--and it has not been vetted as well in the press, nor is there a dedicated "defense fund" fighting it.
Tom Doolittle November 20, 2012 at 02:24 PM
This didn't take long--http://www.wsbtv.com/news/news/local/dunwoody-push-separate-school-district/nS9fX/ Certainly may sweeten the pot for possible new city votes?
Sally November 20, 2012 at 11:59 PM
If we could get a new school district I'd be thrilled. Especially with the news today about Dekalb County and the accreditation group. It's criminal how this system went from the absolute best in the state to one on the verge of losing accreditation.
Tom Doolittle November 21, 2012 at 12:38 AM
If "new school district" required a new city, would that be the deal-maker for a new city? What other options can you envision to form a new school district? I'm sure there are a few. In fact, I believe the person who is leading the North Dekalb New City inquiry once articulated a route for that.
Robert Young February 08, 2013 at 12:21 AM
Brookhaven has a population of about 49,000 and Dunwoody about 47,000. Both have sufficient density to be a city. Dunwoody's tallest building is 444 ft tall and Brookhaven's tallest is 381 feet tall. On the other hand, areas like central DeKalb are just a bunch of neighborhoods.

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