Are We Even Organized to Be a City?

Ben Vinson recently spoke to the Buckhead Business Association on the issue of cityhood, including the recent push in the North Druid Hills-Briarcliff area.

Even if the North Druid Hills-Briarcliff area could get legislation passed to start a new city and residents voted for it, is it properly set up for cityhood?

Ben Vinson said he isn't so sure.

Vinson, who chaired the Governor's Commission on Brookhaven, told members of the Buckhead Business Association that the momentum for cityhood may be slowing, according to the Reporter Newspaper.

Vinson spoke at the organization's Jan. 23 breakfast meeting.

He spoke specifically to unincorporated DeKalb (and presumably the North Druid Hills-Briarcliff area).

"There is a significant portion of DeKalb that is unincorporated. You also have to look at – and Brookhaven, perhaps, is an example of this – are there natural boundaries for a city? Do you really have a sense of a center of that area and community?" he said. "There aren't any other areas that I'd say it's likely that they're going to incorporate."

Here is previous coverage of the issue in North Druid Hills-Briarcliff Patch:

  • Levitas Avoids Press Question Regarding Cityhood Position
  • Leaders Offer Conflicting Views at Second Cityhood Forum
  • Most Residents at Meeting Unsure About Cityhood

What do you think of Vinson's comments and cityhood grumblings in our community? Tell us in the comments section below.

Tom Doolittle January 31, 2013 at 12:10 AM
I think this guy is talking about a broad area not going for incorporation--and he's right about the verve for incorporation dissipating with every mile from North Fulton toward town. Kinda goes in the direction of a comparative number of Democrats and less fervent independents (levels of diversity)--imagine that. My guess is you could persuade 30,000 residents centered on Druid Hills Rd going as far up Lavista/Clairmont as Oak Grove/Leafmore/Briarlake to do this...Of course, there would be a need for a larger economic development component, so you'd eventually plan a train station and some local industry using the tracks. Be careful though--if you need more, you'll have to deal with commercial property owners who want to CID, then "Semblerize". The CID is where your new zoning power (and economically minded council) would be in for trouble. It'd be a nice place to visit from where I live.
Tom Doolittle January 31, 2013 at 02:17 PM
I agree with the speaker that the fervor for forming new cities decreases as you move southward out of what will become Milton County (I include Dunwoody as part of that just as its citizens would like to). This is remarkably coincident with dissipating "enthusiasm" for Republican activism as you move toward Central DeKalb. However, I'd say a referendum might pass for carefully selected city boundary centered near North Druid Hills Road, just as Brookhaven's was--if you employ the same special election strategy. Some well timed hysteria inducing news and a federal investigation or two about DeKalb County couldn't hurt.
Don Broussard January 31, 2013 at 02:38 PM
I would not dispute Ben Vinson's assessment of the political mood at the Gold Dome regarding creation of new cities — since he is joined at the hip to Gov. Deal's administration and is a registered lobbyist at the General Assembly. But I do take exception to his opinion about whether an area like North Druid Hills needs a "center" in order to create an effective city. Neither Dunwoody nor Brookhaven had effective functioning town centers. That did not stop either from incorporating. Brookhaven did have some recognizable community boundaries — which Vinson and the other founders proceeded to completely disregard when they expanded the proposed city limits to encompass high tax value commercial areas along Interstate 85 and Buford Highway. Lawyers, and anyone else, should be careful when they venture opinions about city planning especially when their actions are inconsistent with principles they claim to hold.


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