The DeKalb Legislative Delegation scheduled a public hearing Wednesday night with two challenges:
- Fitting in comments from the interim CEO, the school superintendent and school board chairman, cityhood groups and the public.
- Holding a hearing after the Legislature is already in session and the issue of cityhood very much up in the air.
And one cityhood group did not show up at all.
"We learned late Monday evening about this meeting, via email newsletters from our respective representatives," Lakeside City Alliance's Mary Kay Woodworth emailed Patch before the meeting. "We were not contacted by either the House or Senate chairs of the DeKalb Delegation regarding the meeting, nor asked to make a presentation. We have a previously scheduled community meeting at Beth Jacob Synagogue (at the request of the neighborhood), so LCA will not be making a presentation at the DeKalb meeting."
The neighborhood association invited LCA and the City of Briarcliff Initiative to their meeting Wednesday night. Some Briarcliff board members stayed briefly at the county hearing before heading to the Merry Hills meeting.
The delegation scheduled the public hearing after the Jan. 9 "DeKalb Day" meeting at the Capitol, in which all three cityhood groups -- Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker -- made their case for their cityhood plans. Stonecrest, which pulled back on its plans for this year after a feasibility study found it not financially viable, also made a presentation that day to the legislators.
Some cityhood leaders were visibly miffed by changes in the format at Wednesday's county hearing. The original schedule for the meeting called for a 15-minute presentation followed by people speaking in support or against the cityhood proposals. That 15 minutes was trimmed to five. COBI board member Don Broussard also was concerned that audio-visual was not provided and told the legislators that he could not show everything he wanted them to see.
State Sen. Fran Millar (R-Dunwoody), who is sponsoring a bill supporting Lakeside cityhood, spoke briefly on behalf of LCA, saying they had made a full presentation Jan. 9 and had a "prior commitment." He said the group wasn't "ducking a meeting."
Millar told the audience that Lakeside and Tucker representatives had met as recently as Wednesday. As he recently told another legislative gathering, Millar said earlier efforts to form a "megacity" of 90,000 combining Lakeside and Tucker did not work out.
He told the audience that there is no final map or final version of his bill at this stage, "but I do anticipate it will go forward."
State Rep. Mike Jacobs (R-Brookhaven), who left the hearing to attend the Merry Hills meeting, told that audience that the Lakeside bill is the most likely to move forward. An earlier version of this article misstated what he said.
In comments appearing below, Rep. Jacobs wrote: "What I actually said was that Lakeside is most likely to move forward, not that it is the most "viable" in other uses of that term. It is a near certainty that Senator Millar will get the Lakeside bill out of the Senate, and then the House will have to address the proposal. I don't see how the other proposals have a path forward as of right now, but that could change. My apologies for cross-posting an article from another publication, but the Brookhaven Reporter pretty much captures what I said at Beth Jacob last night: http://www.reporternewspapers.net/2014/01/23/fate-proposed-new-dekalb-cities-unclear/. As an aside, I was at Beth Jacob because I represented Merry Hills for 8 years and they requested that I speak on the subject. I did tell MMO (Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver), their current rep, that I would be doing this speaking engagement. "
Tucker 2014's Frank Auman spoke at the county hearing about the history of Tucker and why the community should become a city.
A number of residents spoke up against cityhood or against specific aspects of the proposals. A number of speakers said the rush to cityhood was moving too fast.
Check back with Patch later Thursday for more of what they said, along with comments from interim CEO Lee May and schools Superintendent Michael Thurmond.