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Oliver Files Cityhood Bill for Druid Hills, Briarcliff Residents

The bill, which does not include a map, would allow for discussion among Mary Margaret Oliver's constituents, the state representative said.

State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver filed a bill in the state legislature Monday that she said allows residents in the Druid Hills and Briarcliff areas to discuss and study cityhood over the next year – the first official step toward creating a new city.

Oliver's bill, HB 665, does not include a map of a proposed city, and it's short – about two sentences. It does not name a specific area, including Druid Hills, and says it intends only to create a city in DeKalb County. Oliver, D-Decatur, said she did not want to specify an area because she didn't want to limit options. She has been a critic of cityhood movements and new incorporation, particularly in nearby Brookhaven, but said she didn't want her constituents to be "buffaloed into a new city or feel like they've been left behind."

"It’s really for my constituents over in Druid Hills and Briarcliff," Oliver said in a phone interview with Patch. "It will, in essence, be under my control."

The bill could not be considered by the General Assembly until next year. Oliver said she wanted to level the playing field between residents in her district and the Lakeside City Alliance, which seeks to file its own placeholder bill in the legislature. The most recent proposed cityhood map from the alliance would stretch from North Druid Hills Road north to the Mercer University area and east across I-285 to western Tucker.

Placeholder cityhood bills start a two-year process to cityhood. They must be filed a year before the legislature can consider them and include a state-mandated feasibility study by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia that costs roughly $30,000. (Thursday is the final day of this year's legislative session.)

One group, The North Druid Hills Study Group headed by former DeKalb County Planning Commission member Don Broussard, has already proposed a City of Briarcliff that would stretch from the Mercer University area south to Atlanta and Decatur's boundaries in Druid Hills. Broussard said Monday he would have preferred a bill that referenced his study group map as a starting point and fears that cityhood groups such as the Lakeside alliance, supported by a more specific bill, will have a fundraising advantage.

“We’re still studying Mary Margaret Oliver's bill, and we’re a little surprised by it and a little disappointed in it. It is not similar to other previous bills that initiated previous city incorporations, and it seems to create a free-for-all in the coming year with no guidance to us," he said. “The bill seems to reflect her ambivilance toward creating new cities. She’s definitely leading from behind on this.”

Oliver said she isn't leading a cityhood movement and seeks only to allow her constituents to choose their own direction.

"I'm not going to finance it or staff it," she said. "I think that the city of Brookhaven really destabilized DeKalb County in my area, and the discussions about cityhood in the Lakeside area are unnerving my constituents."

For more information about cityhood in our community.

intown.neighbor March 26, 2013 at 02:55 PM
I was under the impression that any placeholder bill proposing a new city was required to include a preliminary map. Is this true? Also, I think it would be in everyone's interests for the Lakeside City Alliance and the North Druid Hills Study Group to sit down and discuss the possibility of working together. The LCA's spokespeople have stated that an invitation has been extended to the NDHSG to do exactly that. Has that invitation been received? Was there a response? I don't understand the source of this disunity. Could someone please fill me in?
Frannie D. March 26, 2013 at 03:01 PM
I posted this in the other thread. While I remain open to hearing specifics on costs and benefits in assessing the need for cityhood, at least this bill defines a real sense of place: Druid Hills/North Druid Hills, a historic and established community with a sense of place, that anyone in Atlanta can pinpoint (unlike the cobbled-together political areas represented by LCA/Millar.) Thank you Mary Oliver, for representing the area and looking out for retaining our cohesion. We in North Decatur are not truly aligned with Northlake/Pleasantdale (much as Tucker wasn't a natural part either), and should not be tossed into one big city. Keep North Druid Hills/Emory together. And--very small point of terminology here, which I'm sure wasn't intended to sound the way it came off, but yes, we the citizens would like to feel that we are the ones "in control", not our elected officials. ;)
Amy Parker March 26, 2013 at 04:51 PM
According to Mary Kay Woodworth, the LCA people do not identify with the residents of the Emory and CDC areas. Isn't that special?
intown.neighbor March 26, 2013 at 06:28 PM
Tracy and Roger: Thanks for your observations. I find the LCA's position on this question a little puzzling. Growing up in Leafmore, it seemed that nearly everyone there had some sort of relationship with Emory or the CDC. Sagamore and Oak Grove are still among the most frequently mentioned neighborhoods for new arrivals to consider on the Emory and CDC listservs. Was there any elaboration on what those battles with Emory/Druid Hills may have been about?
Ralph March 27, 2013 at 01:10 AM
Leaders in Tucker should wake up and realize it is time oi incorporate, either by joining the purposed city or forming another one. Forming a separate city will result in at least a two year delay with a vote taken in 2016 instead of 2014. A lot can happen in that two years. Time to wake up and make some realistic decisions before matters are tken out of your hands and made for you. You may become part of the City of Dekalb if you chose to wait.

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