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Carter Files 'City of Lavista Hills' Bill

The Decatur state senator's bill is yet another placeholder bill for another municipality in unincorporated DeKalb County.

Decatur state Sen. Jason Carter filed a bill in the legislature Thursday that would set up a proposed City of Lavista Hills.

The 45-page "placeholder" bill lays out the city's structure in detail except for its boundaries. (A small part of the proposed city would need to be part of Carter's district, however.)

Much of the bill seems to mirror another "placeholder" cityhood bill filed by Dunwoody state Sen. Fran Millar on behalf of the Lakeside City Alliance last month.

It is not clear how Carter's bill would conflict or coordinate with other cityhood bills in the area, including one from Decatur state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver.

More to come.

For more information on local cityhoood.

Herman Lorenz April 03, 2013 at 01:06 PM
Mary Margaret Oliver's original statement was that her bill was sort of on behalf of the "Briarcliff" group. Jason Carter's bill was on behalf of Druid Hills Neighborhood Association (his district). It is the same territory (Briarcliff City), but he changed the name to "Lavista Hills". Since Briarcliff and LaVista both go through the proposed city, the name was optional. "LaVista" sounds more exotic than "Briarcliff". But LaVista road goes into Tucker, which no one involved wanted to do. So Briarcliff became the first name. No doubt there will be more stories.
Frannie D. April 03, 2013 at 03:15 PM
I'm confused--is this bill holding space for a potential city to comprise (roughly) Emory, Medlock, Toco, Oak Grove, Briarcliff, Pangborn? If so, that would be completely in keeping with what most residents in that area seems to consider our natural "area of affinity."
rwf April 03, 2013 at 03:50 PM
Many in Tucker are interested in incorporating, in one way or another. The initial negative reaction to the Lakeside proposal was that it was dividing Tucker in two. A City of Lavista, that spanned from Druid Hills through Tucker and into Smoke Rise could make a lot of sense. If all that area were to be included, it would result in a city totaling 129,000+ residents, large enough to offer all the standard city services.
Bill Lowe April 03, 2013 at 05:06 PM
It is a good idea in concept to include all of Tucker within a city. Unfortunately, Tucker residents would never accept anything less than the name Tucker. If they truly want to compromise, then Tucker will have to learn how to. There are also many areas on the fringes of Tucker that do not want the name Tucker. When those that are spearheading an incorporation effort start drawing their own maps, they will find out just how many neighborhoods would rather be in some other city, much to the hard core Tucker residents dismay. It will be interesting to see if Tucker will remove areas from their map because residents want it---like the Lakeside group has done. Smokerise may prefer to be in Stone Mountain rather than Tucker as well. The leadership of Tucker--whomever that may be should probably be prepared to let go of whatever power they have accumulated over the years and start rallying support for some sort of change if they are serious about incorporation. The City of DeKalb if it comes to a public vote will pass. It is just a shadow government of the existing DeKalb County government with no benefit of better services, but higher fees by way of franchise fees on your power bills, cable bills, phone bills, etc.
Frannie D. April 03, 2013 at 05:44 PM
Conflicting info here. Herman, can you elaborate? If I'm reading correctly, you say that Jason Carter is filing this based on the Briarcliff/Druid Hills proposition--which does not including any of Tucker past 285 on out. But MMO already filed a "Briarcliff" bill. Anyone have a clearer idea of what this is?
rwf April 03, 2013 at 06:53 PM
"Tucker residents would never accept anything less than the name Tucker." - I really don't think this is true at all. If a City of Lavista or LIvista Hills were to form, it would be large enough to allow all the distinctive neighborhoods or communities to maintain their unique identities, much like Buckhead and Little Five Points within Atlanta. Druid Hills, Tucker and Smoke Rise would all continue just as they do today. The advantage of the Lavista name is that Lavista Road runs through all the communities and no one has any distinct claim to it. It would be a unifying factor. The few vocal hotheads who have focused on 'Lakeside' do not speak for the Tucker community in any way whatsoever, and most of us wish they would just go away. As a resident of Smoke Rise, I feel safe in assuring you that no one here has any real desire to join up with Stone Mountain. We may have a Stone Mountain USPS address, but our post office is actually in unincorporated Gwinnett. There may well be a debate in Smoke Rise on whether to join Tucker or not. I think it would be a mistake to not do so, as staying out would leave us as an isolated unincorporated island distant from county services.
rwf April 03, 2013 at 07:09 PM
"The leadership of Tucker . . ." - An interesting aspect of the so-called 'community leadership' in Tucker is that it is almost totally business based. The business leaders have been making false claims regarding the reason Tucker did not pursue incorporation 6 years ago, blaming a non-existent conclusion that there was insufficient commercial areas within Tucker to make the city finances work. That is simply untrue. The study group, of which I was a part, never came to that conclusion simply because we did not have the means to review the tax data base to come to ANY conclusion, pro or con. I believe the Tucker business folks have been spouting this line to justify their business centric conclusion that city-hood would not be in their best interest. They have been working effectively with the state and county to achieve local priorities (kudos to them!) but incorporation would present a threat to their central role in the community. They may have no wish to answer to an entirely new set of folks running the new city. We should note, however, that what they have achieved with the LCI study and the CID district would most likely continue unchanged. Regarding the TCA as an organization, it will not have a voice in the incorporation movement, as it is legally prevented from doing so. I would further note that the TCA board currently consists of one resident of Lillburn, and three residents of Smoke Rise, hardly spokesman for Tucker as a whole.
rwf April 03, 2013 at 07:29 PM
City of DeKalb - I understand today that there was also a city incorportion place-holder bill filed in the General Assembly on behalf of a City of DeKalb. I'm assuming the intent of this city would be to include all the remaining unincorporated portions of DeKalb County, as has been published before in the past year. At the same time we do have several elected representatives who have already gone on record as being absolutely against such a city, and that this bill will never pass. If the effort were to actually proceed, I am sure that those areas of north DeKalb that do not wish to be included will certainly be taken out of that map. So I do not believe a City of DeKalb will ever be a credible threat to our areas. However, if the residents of portions or all of south DeKalb choose to incorporate, they will certainly be free to do so. It may even be in their best interest. For what it's worth, there was also a place-holder bill for a City of Stonecrest filed (Stonecrest Mall?) which may actually be for that purpose.
Ralph April 03, 2013 at 08:00 PM
I would like to be in a city of from 50,000 to 150,000. Not concerned about the name. Live outside 285 and not presently in the Lakeside city map although I was in the original map. Don't see I-285 as a natural boundary, Putting the boundary at I-285 splits the Northlake community. People outside 285 west of Henderson Road consider themselves more as part of the Northlake - Henderson-Lakeside commnity than the community of Tucker and don't want to be split off from the west. Some peo[ple in the same location feel more a part of Tucker. If the boundary is as now shown in the Lakeside map there will be a community split' Tucker should join the the city to avoid splitting the community. And Smoke Rise should join in also. They are a part of the community. Which goes by many names but all merge together at the so called boundaries.
Carrie Redwine April 04, 2013 at 03:47 PM
Yes I am a resident of Atlanta in Northlake and I have no interest in the City of Lakeside agenda - looks like a big mess and I can't believe it is receiving the support it has. I wish our area would focus on making Northlake better - the mall needs a full facelift, parking lot and all - and the all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet on Northlake Parkway needs to be torn down and that parcel captured for a park and green space on North Lake which is blocked from view by the restaurant!
Ralph April 04, 2013 at 04:59 PM
Agree with you about the Chinese restaurant. Sould be torn down for a parkby the lake. That's something a city could do. Condemn the property for a park. Best argument for a city with local control I have heard so far. I don't see anything wrong with the Lakeside map except that is does not include me anymore. I live just outside 285 near Midvale school. Always considered myself as living in the Northlake area. Not Tucker. Too far away from Tucker to be part of Tuker. But I woilf like to see the place become a city. Take in DeKalb to the Gwinnett county line and south along the railroad tracks. Then people could stop complaining about their community being split. Those that think there is some cohesive community at all. Local contol is the goal. Put a park be Northlake . A city can do that.
Tom Doolittle April 04, 2013 at 06:29 PM
The next 1 1/2 years will be very interesting around here. I still can't figure out the logic behind the placeholder requirement if there really isn't a city being proposed (no boundaries, no specific communities). What is the purpose of setting aside the "right" to file for a constitutional amendment at a later date? If it is a general requirement for all constitutional amendments, maybe city-making under the current rules is inapplicable (inappropriate) to amending the state constitution...hmmm??? So lets inventory the latest state of affairs. We have one placeholder bill with a specified boundary that can be modified at any time and any number of times (Millar/LCA) and we have three placeholders (Sens. Carter, Mighty Mo and Henson) that are not established civic groups that essentially say the same thing--reserving the right to form a city of any definition the only limitation being that part of the city has to "touch" the sponsoring legilslator's district. At one time, a few short six years ago, it seemed so simple to amend an entire state's constitution so that a formalized unincorporated community that had been organized and affiliated for 40 years could become a taxing jurisdiction. Does anyone see any problems writing a state const amendment for one silly jurisdiction and try to apply it to other areas in the state? Clusterf__k.
Ralph April 04, 2013 at 06:55 PM
The only logic I can see is that requing a bill to be filed gives peolpe notice that someone wants to incorporate an area and they can take steps on their own to find out the details and get ready to support it or fight it the next year in the legislature. It prevents sneak attacks where the bill is introduced and passed quickly without prior notice and without giving everone a chance to organize against it. I agree that it makes no sense not to require a name, map and boundaries. Mary Kay claims that her legal advisors told her that those were the requirements and tat is why the Lakeside bill has a map.etc. Brookhave's placeholder bill did not have boundaries. Neither, as you pointed out do the others filed this year. If I were the judge or jury hearing the case, I would rule that a placeholder bill with no name or boundaries is not valid and rule it invalid. I also would not allow an increas in the area, simce people outside the area in the map would not have had notice. I would allow a reduction in area. But I am not going to be making those decisions. Just because something makes sense or is logical does not mean that is the law. And the reverse is also true. Laws don't always make sense or follow any logic.
Tom Doolittle April 04, 2013 at 08:12 PM
My bottom line point. Current legislation causes chaos--maybe the legislation itself is chaos. It's not just illogical--its damaging, irresponsible (note us hating our neighbors over it) and manipulative. Ugly, ugly business that isn't just legislator-on-legislator combat--it is now you and me. Local legislation that is appropriate for a small section of the state has no business being the basis of an amendment to a state constitution. We are now STARTING to see the consequences, we simply haven't articulated the pain we are feeling in that conext. All will become clear as this progresses. The next thing you will see is the full legislature viewing any proposal for local legislation by their North Atlanta area provocateur brethren with jaundiced eyes and telling them to cease and desist. The state's attack on urban county governments was really never the state's attack, it was North Atlanta Region legislators slipping a coordinated assault before the full legislature understood the implications. Our community will have done the entire state a huge service before this is done--as it should be for an awesomely intelligent area. I'm sure we'll have a new city (or township, once new legislation goes into effect), but it will be a small, tight knit area of like minds (say 15,000 people)--and it will take much more than 2 years to get it done.
Ralph April 04, 2013 at 09:18 PM
The purpose of a constitution is to set out guidlines for the passage of laws, and broad limitations as to what laws can be passed, as set out in the bill if rights to the US constution. Not to make laws, There is only one law set out in the US Constitution and that is the law defining treason. There is a problem with th Georgia stae constitution as it requires to many amendments for things that should be decided by the legislature. We don't require a statewide vote to amend the constitution to form a city. Just a vote of the legislature and a vote by people wirhin the propsoed city. Seems like you are under the impression that a statewide vote is required to form a city. That is not correct.
Cheryl Miller April 05, 2013 at 02:25 AM
rwf, if your comment is directed at Bill Lowe, then you are talking to one of the "local hotheads" whom you said most of us wish would just go away. If you are familiar with the Tucker, already named and already having defined borders and a single zip code, then you should know that there is a portion of our community that is called "Smoke Rise" and then there is a school named "Smoke Rise Charter Elementary" and one now called "Smoke Rise Prep." This is a ridiculous way to try to hold any kind of realistic conversation about any city forming when the people talking about how to parcel up and rename Tucker are not even familiar enough with the area to know what they are talking about. Smoke Rise the community is very much a part of Tucker. Smoke Rise, the charter school is located in Stone Mountain, but has a district that draws some from Tucker, as well as from all over DeKalb as it is a charter school. Smoke Rise Prep is a new hybrid between online school and home school. It was created by a group of concerned parents who felt they were forced out of their neighborhood school and have still been unable to get any answers or support from the school administration. Much the same has been claimed for the Tucker schools of Brockett and Idlewood. Bill appears to think the school and the community are one in the same. But he is wrong, again.
Bill Lowe April 05, 2013 at 03:20 AM
Hi Cheryl Miller, This is directed at you. I grew up in the area, know exactly what I am talking about. I did not come from the part of the USA where the majority of people on Jerry Springer are from. You know, Florida. Notice that Smokerise the community prefers to be located within Stone Mountain rather than Tucker. Their association with a mailing address is Stone Mountain. Sometimes they even use Smokerise, ga as their address. I am perfectly ok with being wrong. It keeps me humble. Now prove me wrong, so I can admit it. Tucker will not incorporate under any name except for Tucker. Smokerise will want to be excluded from a city of Tucker if it is included.(The Tucker name would be a drain on their property values.) Thanks for calling me out to play Cheryl, I do need some useful activity from time to time.
Tom Doolittle April 05, 2013 at 03:54 PM
What I was trying to say is the legislature represents is a statewide body that has underestimated (poorly estimated unforseen circumstances) of applying current law to facilitate the formation of cities with very particular circumstances--one map, one placeholder, one civic organization--indeed, one political party, homogenous demographics and political affiliation. ("orderly" if you will). That clearly isn't applicable here, nor in many places-- and instead of the current process creating an orderly vote--has done just the opposite. The process also isn't very clear, for example what a "placeholder" constitutes. Its a mess--a new law is needed and this is just the community to point that out.--and I predict the use of local referedums in general to disrupt local governmental bodies will be sharply curtailed informally among Republicans--or in the case of city-making, new amendments are on the way.
Cheryl Miller April 05, 2013 at 04:28 PM
FYI... His district also covers Lakeside, FYI. I was wondering why the bill to create Lakeside City had been entered by Sen. Fran Millar who doesn't cover any part of Lakeside and only a tip of Tucker's CDP/zip code area. Based on the census, the state and local political districts must be reapportioned by law. (It was falsely stated that the school board districts would only be remapped if the voters agreed to the E-SLOST in Nov. 2011. They did, but the maps would have been redone either way and the number of board members was not reduced as it had been claimed would happen.) If you have not seen the new maps, you can view them at www.dekalbvotes.com. And here is info. about Carter's district: http://www.senate.ga.gov/senators/en-US/district.aspx?District=42.
Cheryl Miller April 05, 2013 at 04:37 PM
You typically have to have the commercial revenue before you can be called a city, unless you wait till a nearby area builds up their commercial district and then you can just try to lay claim to it, but exclude the vast majority of their residential areas. That's a brilliant strategy, don't you think?
Ralph April 05, 2013 at 05:27 PM
Mary Margaret Oliver introduced House Bill 22 this year which if passed will eliminate some of the problems you have mentioned. It will add requirements includingbut not limited to the following; Any bill to incorporate a new municipality may be introduced in the General the second year of the term of office of members of the General Assembly. During the session in which a bill to incorporate a new municipality is introduced, the committee to which such bill is assigned shall determine the proposed boundaries of the new municipality, and such boundaries shall not be changed thereafter in the second year of the term in which such bill is introduced. (d) During the interim between the first and second sessions of the General Assembly, a financial viability study shall be conducted on the proposed municipality and, if the provisions of subsection (a) of this Code section are applicable, on the proposed plan forthe remaining unincorporated area of the county. Such study shall include, but shall not be limited to, the following issues: The economic viability of the proposed municipality and the proposed plan for the remaining unincorporated area of the county, if applicable, and the amount of taxes necessary to sustain the appropriate levels of services required by the municipality to meet the needs of its inhabitants; The financial impact of the incorporation of the municipality on the county in which such municipality is located;
Dill April 05, 2013 at 10:34 PM
How is it Ralph that you live off Midvale Road but feel you can speak for most of the residents of Henderson Road as well? Make up your mind - are you off Midvale aka the Northlake area as you like to call it or are you off Henderson aka the Tucker area that the people I know who live there call it. Please note how I did not say MOST people call it Tucker but clarified it to only the people I know there.
Ralph April 05, 2013 at 11:35 PM
Dill - Don't think you read my comment very closly.
Tom Doolittle April 07, 2013 at 06:18 PM
In almost any city, town or even formalized unincorporated village, civic leadership is principally business leadership--banks and media primarily...and institutional--colleges and academies, hospitals, women's leagues. They are all members of Chambers of Commerce. Particularly true in small cities and towns, well beyond sprawling (amorphous, nameless, heritage-less, ill-defined, sterile) suburban/exurban areas. The extreme version of this is the proverbial "company town" or "mill town", where the primary industry was a philanthropist who's only requirment was for everyone to simply shut their mouths and fall in line. Some say the City of Atlanta never fully emerged from that ethos (see Coca Cola, Cox and King and Spalding--in "white world" anyway). Falling in line here is a bit softer, done via Leadership Networks and the Commerce Club. If you want an example of the development of area leadership, Decatur is a good example. Essentially, never a democratic paradigm. So-called "civic associations" are a suburban construct and are really neighborhood associations whose political contribution only moved beyond picnics and gardening in areas where there was little contact or affiliation with the business (leadership) community. The relationship of neighborhood associations and progress is typically at best irrelevent--at worst, inverse.
Tom Doolittle April 07, 2013 at 06:35 PM
More mess in my view. Needs to start over with an eye on the state's exisiting requirments for comprehenive land use plans by counties. This puts the state/county and local civic initiative in an equal negotiating stance for the purpose of "remapping" the county. You would do this for counties above a certain population where county services have become "city-like" and not "basic". The benefits: (1) A new county map with defined cities across the county with the legislature responsible for the final decision and most importantly, implementation. (2) All cities formed either simulataneously or a planned sequential timeline--with no financial "penalty" for unincorporated residents remaining as the process unfolds. (3) The county and new cities as either "willing" partners or at least with equal negotiating status, with the legislature not favoring one over the other. (4)A complete plan for divestiure of "city services" from the county to individual cities or cities with joint services agreements (mini-counties). This would eliminate the use of "city-lite" services which have been used to form psuedo feel-good cities in name only, cherry-picking low hanging fruit to get cities started and provide the appearance of financial stability.
Georgia April 12, 2013 at 08:52 PM
Carrie, Simon owns the mall, and they don't want to put money into it. DeKalb County isn't helping bring new business into this area. A city can potentially change that. The LCA folks want to fund a feasibility study to determine if a city would work, and make the area better. You call the City of Lakeside an "agenda". What's your beef with it and the folks on it? Members of the LCA and hundreds of the people that have attended meetings and are frustrated with trying to "fix" the County and Northlake are involved in the community and have been for years, making it better - as PTA officers, legislators, community and church leaders, soccer, swim and softball coaches and team parents , neighborhood and school club boosters and leaders, tree planters, master gardeners - the list goes on and on. They have tried to work with and sometimes around the county government to improve the community. How about you? I live on the fringes of the map, and hope that more parts of Tucker will be included. I can't count on DeKalb County, the Tucker CDP and it's self-appointed leaders to improve this area. Kudos to the folks at LCA for stepping up.

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