Levitas Avoids Press Question Regarding Cityhood Position

The former state representative, who has organized cityhood panels in Oak Grove, declined to say whether he supported the creation of another city in the North Druid Hills-Briarcliff area.

Kevin Levitas, a former state represenative and organizer of two recent cityhood panels in Oak Grove, declined last week to tell a reporter whether he supported cityhood in the North Druid Hills-Briarcliff area.

The former District 82 representative was quoted in an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story published Saturday about DeKalb County's image problem in the wake of recent county government and school system scandals.

From the story:

Some residents are doing more than complain. Home owners in north-central DeKalb, around the Oak Grove neighborhood, are talking about incorporating their own city. And a Dunwoody legislator is pushing to change the State Constitution to empower the city to create its own school system separate from the county.

Former legislator Kevin Levitas, an Oak Grove area resident, has held panel discussions on the pros and cons of incorporating.

“People are scratching their heads asking, ‘What is going on?’ ” said Levitas, who declined to say how he leans on incorporation. “There is a concern that money is being raised in one part of the county and not being spent there.”

Levitas organized two cityhood meetings – one in November and one earlier this month – on behalf, he said, of the Briarcliff Woods East Neighborhood Association. Both meetings were held in Oak Grove United Methodist Church. Levitas also created North DeKalb Cityhood Blog.

Levitas said both meetings were held only to provide local residents information on the cityhood process after media reports last year said Sagamore Hills and North Briarcliff residents were considering incorporation. (So far, no movement has materialized.) The first meeting included legislators who had been involved and supported the creation of other DeKalb cities. After some audience members complained that the speakers seemed to be promoting cityhood, Levitas organized a second meeting that would include speakers who could speak to the negatives of cityhood.

Here is Patch's coverage of those meetings:

  • Leaders Offer Conflicting Views at Second Cityhood Forum
  • Most Residents at Meeting Unsure About Cityhood
Kevin Levitas January 21, 2013 at 02:43 AM
I find Mr. Broussard’s statements directed toward me to be, at best, disingenuous, albeit revealing. As he is well-aware, I decided not to attend the subsequent meeting that he organized because his conduct prior to that meeting demonstrated to me that he lacks the above-described traits necessary to move forward in an open, inclusive and even-tempered manner. In addition, I do not share his views that the public meetings attended by 200 people were not as important hearing from him in a select forum the agenda and process for which was determined autocratically.
Kevin Levitas January 21, 2013 at 02:44 AM
If the citizens in northern DeKalb believe that cityhood is a worthy pursuit—and it very well may be—then I hope the effort is led by a group populated by those with the skill set necessary to move forward in a positive and productive way. I simply do not share Mr. Broussard’s vision of a top-down led movement.
Ms. January 21, 2013 at 12:19 PM
Wouldn't this idea get a lot more support if the Constitution were changed to allow cities to create their own schools? Why not start getting a movement together to get that done first? Having control of your trash is great, but I don't see the urgent need to create cities unless they're able to manage education and schools.
Tom Doolittle January 21, 2013 at 04:08 PM
It's gratifying that the interest in this subject can generate discussion in such a short period of time after publishing the article. Keep those card and letters coming. BTW--I'm not sure what a bottom up movement would look like toward some form of localized representation (whether city or not), but it would certainly be a first in a situation that the subject wasn't formulated over a very long period of time (Sandy Springs being the only case I'm aware of). Dunwoody and Brookhaven (indeed any that have been formulated in three years) are simply apples and oranges to Sandy Springs. These were purely top-down from a stand-point of getting referendums on the board (although the issues were decided by a small % of the electorate) and are just one category of the current legislature's clear intent to change the entire state constitution one amendment at a time--and lack of respect for the power and unforseen consequences in making such dramatic changes. One amendment poorly considered (and poorly represented) will most certainly yield more to remediate those unforseen consequences. The electorate should wisely not play the game.
Tom Doolittle January 22, 2013 at 01:59 AM
Don--one thing that might result from a more patient process, admittedly not one pursued by other areas, would be a thorough understanding of what alternative forms of local (extra-local) representation might be available--and yet quite effective on zoning and development issues. As an example, CIDs: although these represent commercial property owners, when a CID is applied over a large area, with several business areas, such as 15+ sq mi Gwinnett Village CID, most of the top priority planning and zoning issues are managed. Not only that, but economic development, walkability and host of other quality of life matters that county citizenry have never really gotten their hands around. When a city is formed, have no illusions, these are topics that city leaders (no matter how small and how recent they were lowly private citizens) are most interested in--NOT the democratic interests of the public. So why not look at alternatives that do the same thing at much less expense and more importantly, no long term risk? My problem with the discussion in the Oak Grove Civic Assn meetings and the process Don describes is the question is a false choice: CITY or NO CITY.


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