Cityhood Bills “Cross Over” for Tucker, LaVista Hills, South Fulton
(APN) ATLANTA — Three proposed cityhood referenda bills–Tucker, La Vista Hills, and South Fulton–are zooming through the General Assembly. All three bills have passed the Georgia House in advance of last Friday’s Crossover Day, which was March 13, 2015, and are up for consideration by the Georgia Senate.
The cityhood bills were introduced on Monday, March 02, 2015; passed by a subcommittee on Tuesday, March 03; and by the House Governmental Affairs Committee on Wednesday, March 04.
HB 515 City of Tucker was introduced by State Rep. Billy Mitchell (D-Stone Mountain), and co-sponsored by Reps. Scott Holcomb (D-Atlanta) and Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain).
HB 520 City of LaVista Hills was introduced by State Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody), and co-sponsored by State Reps. Holcomb, Barry Fleming (R-Harlem), and Ed Rynders (R-Albany).
HB 514 City of South Fulton was introduced by State Rep. Roger Bruce (D-Atlanta), and co-sponsored by State Reps. Virgil Fludd (D-Tyrone), Margaret Kaiser (D-Atlanta), Ronnie Mabra (D-Fayetteville), Sheila Jones (D-Atlanta), and Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs).
On March 11, 2015, Tucker and LaVista Hills passed the full House. HB 515, Tucker, passed with 128 yea and 31 nay votes. HB 520, LaVista Hills, passed with 129 yea and 37 nay votes.
On March 13, 2014, South Fulton passed the full House, with 148 to 21.
All three proposed cities have border disputes with adjoining cities or proposed annexations by the City of Atlanta. The Governmental Affairs Committee adopted rules at the beginning of the session that a city can’t move forward with border disputes.
The way they got around the violation is that, at the time the cityhood bills passed out of committee, the annexation bills with conflicting boundaries had not been introduced yet.
Annexations are local legislation and can pop up at any time and are not bound by the crossover day deadline.
The annexation legislation may cause problems when it gets to the Senate.
State Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur) is the only member who made an objection to passage based on rule violations. Specifically, she was objecting to a conflict between Stone Mountain and the proposed Tucker, but because that annexation had not been formally introduced yet, the committee ignored it.
State Rep. Pat Gardner (D-Atlanta) has filed two annexation bills recently for the City of Atlanta.
Atlanta Progressive News broke the news regarding one of these bills, for south Fulton annexation, before it was filed.
The other calls for a referendum on annexing the Druid Hills community. HB 586, filed on March 10, 2015, will include parts of Druid Hills, Briar Vista, LaVista Park, Clairmont Heights, and Medlock Park.
“My constituents in the 82nd House district have clearly stated a wish to vote on whether to be annexed into the city of Atlanta. HB 586, local legislation of the Atlanta delegation, will give them a referendum, which will be held in November 2015. If passed and signed by the Governor, all citizens of the proposed annexed area in unincorporated DeKalb can engage in the democratic process through public conversation, asking questions about schools, taxes and services, and decide how they wish to vote,” Rep. Oliver wrote in a recent newsletter to constituents.
“I have not seen the map that has been circulated most recently, we did not design it. We understand there is overlap. We know members of the legislature are discussing what the final map should look like and we hope we will be pleased with it and we remain cautiously optimistic,” Allen Venet, La Vista Hills Yes, said in a voicemail message left for APN.
There are three local legislation bills to reform DeKalb County Government, and they are also not bound by the Crossover Day deadline. They are SB 118, SB 120, and SB 121.
A group called DeKalbStrong.com is calling for a moratorium on cityhood and annexation proposals in DeKalb County. They believe the process is too rushed without adequate input from citizens. They say the cityhood movement is bad policy with huge consequences for schools, quality of life, and taxes in DeKalb County.
“We have fourteen hundred signatures on a moratorium petition. That is more people than signed the petition for La Vista Hills,” Marjorie Hall Snook, President of DeKalbStrong.com, told APN.
“Because so many people signed the moratorium, they had a hard time getting local sponsors for the La Vista Hills bill. Local legislators did not want to touch it because the people in the area was asking them not to do it. Unfortunately, because this is handled as general legislation not local legislation, we had a bunch of rural legislators voting who don’t care what people in this area want,” Snook said.