City of Stonecrest Passes Out of Committee; Greenhaven is Tabled

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greenhaven cmte(APN) ATLANTA — Two cityhood bills involving DeKalb County are making their way through the Georgia House of Representatives: HB 613, provides for the incorporation of the City of Greenhaven; SB 208, provides for the incorporation of the City of Stonecrest, both in south DeKalb.

 

Stonecrest passed the House Governmental Affairs Committee, while Greenhaven was tabled in the House Governmental Affairs subcommittee.

 

Proposed City of Greenhaven

 

State Rep. Pam Stephenson (D-Decatur) is the sponsor of HB 613, which was tabled, for now, on Tuesday, February 16, 2016.

 

Members of the subcommittee agree that creating a City of Greenhaven would be a massive undertaking that needs more study and work before it is ready to be a city.

 

The current map of Greenhaven would create the second largest city in Georgia, after Atlanta,  with nearly 300,000 citizens.  It would incorporate almost forty percent of DeKalb County.

 

Greenhaven includes everything in south DeKalb County except the City of Lithonia and the proposed City of Stonecrest.  Its boundary runs across DeKalb County, from Fulton County to Gwinnett County.

 

The disputed north boundary runs south of U.S. 78 and encompases the City of Stone Mountain, Stone Mountain Park, and Pine Lake; and abuts the south side of the City of Clarkston.

 

The boundary lines between Greenhaven and Stonecrest are not disputed, but the City of Lithonia will be surrounded by those two cities without future opportunity for growth or development.

 

Both proposed cities say that economic development and self-determination are the main reasons for seeking cityhood.

 

Greenhaven would initially provide three services:  code enforcement, planning and zoning, and parks and recreation.  They plan to add other services later.

 

“We are taking on three services but we are not city lite.  City Lite limits the powers of government [by city charter, possibly unconstitutionally] and we are not doing that,” Dr. Kathryn Rice, Chair of Concerned Citizens for Cityhood of South DeKalb, Inc. (CCCSD) said to the subcommittee.

 

Dr. Rice said that because South DeKalb is underdeveloped, the only way to fiscal viability was by having a large city.

 

“Our revenue is 45 million dollars, our expenses 18 million which leaves us with a surplus of 27 million dollars,” Dr. Rice said.

 

The University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute found Greenhaven to be fiscally feasible.

 

State Rep. Tom Taylor (R-Dunwoody) was concerned about how they would pay for almost 300 police officers, which they would need with only a 45 million dollar budget.

 

“In Dunwoody, we got two officers for four hundred and twenty thousand a month,” Rep. Taylor said.

 

Dr. Rice replied the budget did not include police now, the city would have two years to take on that service.

 

State Rep. Michele Henson (D-Stone Mountain) said she had major concerns with the map cutting into currently existing cities without an opportunity for growth or annexation.

 

“I have a packet of annexations from existing cities… the City of Greenhaven abuts all the existing cities, which does not leave any room for future growth.  I am happy to work with them to construct boundaries that would allow existing cities to honor their annexation plans,” State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale) said.

 

Several City Council Members from Clarkston expressed similar concerns that Greenhaven boundaries would landlock several cities, including Clarkston; and leave no opportunity for growth and development.

 

Representatives said they support the concept of the City of Greenhaven, but that CCCSD members need to get with other cities on unresolved boundary lines.

 

Proposed City of Stonecrest

 

SB 208, the Stonecrest cityhood bill, has unanimously passed the House Governmental Affairs Committee this month, after it passed the State Senate last year.

 

Sponsors of the SB 208 are State Sens. Gail Davenport (D-Jonesboro), Gloria Butler (D-Stone Mountain, Emanuel Jones (D-Decatur),  and Steve Henson (D-Tucker).

 

The proposed new City of Stonecrest includes the southeastern corner of DeKalb County, including Stonecrest Mall, running next to the City of Lithonia boundary line and stretching above I-20 at one point.  It would include 50,000 residents.

 

Stonecrest also has a shared boundary line with the proposed City of Greenhaven

 

Stonecrest will offer three basic services   parks and recreation, code enforcement, planning and zoning.

 

As with Greenhaven, Stonecrest will not purport to limit the powers of the city government by charter.

 

Other services not provided by the city, like police, will continue to be provided by DeKalb County.

 

A University of Georgia feasibility study estimated that Stonecrest would have an annual revenue of ten million dollars, and expenses of eight million dollars.

 

If passed in a full House vote, a referendum vote will be scheduled either May 24, 2016; or November 8, 2016.

 

New cities in North DeKalb have been sucking up money by grabbing commercial properties so they can keep profits close to home and not share with other unincorporated parts of DeKalb.

 

This has created a domino effect with one unincorporated area after another rushing to grab commercial property or land, while they can.

 

Some residents of South DeKalb, with the proposed cities of Stonecrest and Greenhaven, hope to protect their area from future negative financial consequences by becoming municipalities

 

South DeKalb fears that, with so much tax revenue moving away from DeKalb County, to new cities, that remaining unincorporated may become quite burdensome, if not unfeasible.

 

But is it a race to greater problems and more corruption, for it is naive to believe new cities will be immune from similar problems.

 

New cities add another level of government, more bureaucrats, and often higher taxes in one form or another, because, for example, cities can levy franchise fees on utility and cable bills.

 

(END/2016)

6 comments

  • Stonecrest must stay south of I-20. How can state politicians be so damn shortsighted to land-lock and minimize the importance of Lithonia, a city that has been around for over 200 years?! It’s all a greedy land grab by people that want to be politicians themselves.

  • TiredOfWaiting4Change

    I’ve lived within the boundaries of Lithonia and unincorporated Lithonia for 20+ years. If it was going to grow, I think it would have done so by now. It has been around for 200 years right? The City of Lithonia unfortunately doesn’t even have the money to fund a feasibility study to determine if its annexation goals will help. As a tax payer I want more than what the county is doing for my area. So a local government that focuses on my part of the county is something I’m willing to try. I’m tired of waiting on the county, watching all projects go north of highway 78. Brookhaven, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Tucker and Lavista Hills have all had their chance at cityhood – it’s our turn! I will be voting YES to Stonecrest in 2016.

  • There’s nothing “local” in an area of that size. (And definitely not Greenhaven.) Also, where is downtown Stonecrest? The mall?

    It’s ridiculous that the people proposing a city are bossing around the officials of an already-existing city. Are you listening Steve Henson and others, because that was your argument as you defended historic Tucker against LaVista Hills, and Tucker wasn’t even an official city yet.

  • What you should know about Stonecrest or Greenhaven
    1. There is no demographic diversity in these cities populations for either Stonecrest or Greenhaven. it would be 95% African American. Dunwoody, Brookhaven, Sandy Springs, Tucker, Peachtree Corners do not have any similar or reverse demographic.
    2. There is no term limits for mayor or council members in Stonecrest
    3. There is no term limit on the number of successive terms for Mayor of Greenhaven (South DeKalb)?
    4. Stonecrest would be twice the land size of the cities in the north
    5. Greenhaven would be ten times the land size of Dunwody, Smyrna or Brookhaven, Peachtree Corners, etc.
    6. The proposed city of Greenhaven would be the 2nd largest city in Georgia and one of the largest cities by land area in Georgia.
    7. Greenhaven would comprise almost half of DeKalb County by land and would be 40% of its population.
    8. There are no industrial park areas in Greenhaven.
    9. Unprecedented to create a city of Greenhaven 300,000 overnight. It took Atlanta 150 years to reach a size of 450,000.
    10. A cityhood referendum should not be be held in May or in the summer, if there is to be a referendum it should be in November.
    Did you know that Stone Mountain Park would be in the proposed City of Greenhaven and not in the City of Stone Mountain? Did you know that Arabia Mountain Park would be in the proposed city of Stonecrest? Did you know that Stonecrest Mall would not be in the proposed City of Greenhaven? The proposed City of Greenhaven would be the 2nd largest city in Georgia and it would have South DeKalb Mall, Walmart on Gresham, a landfill, Jail and no hospital. The DeKalb Hillandale hospital would be in the proposed city of Stonecrest, and the DeKalb Medical Center hospital would not be in the proposed Greenhaven or Stonecrest boundaries. Why do the supporters of Stonecrest want to be in a separate city from Greenhaven in South DeKalb? What are they not telling you? Do the residents in the proposed Stonecrest know something we do not know? The proposed city of Greenhaven would land lock Lithonia, Pine Lake, Stone Mountain, and the proposed city of Stonecrest..
    City Comparison by Land Area
    Atlanta 132.4 square miles – population 450,000
    Sandy Spring 39 square miles – population 100,000
    Smyrna 15.4 square miles – population 55,000
    Peachtree Corners 17.3 square miles – population 40,000
    South Fulton (proposed city) 105 square miles – population 100,000
    Greenhaven (proposed city) 126.2 square miles – population 300,000
    Stonecrest (proposed city) 29.6 square miles – population 50,000
    Dunwoody 13.7 square miles – population 50,000
    Brookhaven 12 square miles – population- 50,000
    Avondale 1.1 square miles – population 2960
    Doraville 3.6 square miles – population 8330
    Stone Mountain 1.6 square miles – population 5800
    Lithonia 0.8 square miles – population 1924
    Decatur 4.2 square miles – population 20,000
    Clarkston 1.1 square miles – population 7,500

    Ed Williams. Ed.D. Chair
    Concerned Citizens For Effective Government
    Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb
    facebook.com/ccegdekalb
    ccegdekalb.blogspot.com
    (678) 304-7736
    Twitter @truthcrushthee2

  • The proposed city of Stonecrest would be one of the largest cities in DeKalb County with a population of 50,000 residents and the largest city in terms of land area 29.6 square miles. In order for it to be feasible the land size and the number of people had to be large to make it feasible. The proposed city charter for Stonecrest only has three services in it. Parks and Recreation, Zoning, and Code Enforcement. If Stonecrest was a full service city like Dunwoody and Brookhaven it would not have passed it’s feasibility test.

    The CVI feasibility studty used Peachtree Corners, Brookhaven, and Dunwoody for Greenhaven estimates. The CVI feasibility used Peachtree Corners and Smyrna for the proposed city of Stonecrest but also utilized data from other metro Atlanta area cities. The proposed city of South Fulton the feasibility analysis included all cites in Fulton County with a population of 10,000 or greater as determined by the 2010 Census. The cities with populations are: Alpharetta, 57,551; East Point, 33,712; Fairburn, 12,950; Johns Creek 76,728; Milton, 32,661; and Union City, 19,456. We do not include College Park with a population of 13,942 for several reasons. And also do not include Atlanta; with a population of 420,003 it is just much bigger than all other cities.
    Did you know that in the Stonecrest charter the number of successive terms an individual may hold a position as mayor or as a council member shall be unlimited.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6rHTsNOsLE_MVAtc0VsQUg1RFE/view?usp=sharing

    Ed Williams. Ed.D. Chair
    Concerned Citizens For Effective Government
    Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb
    facebook.com/ccegdekalb
    ccegdekalb.blogspot.com
    (678) 304-7736
    email: truthcrushtheearth@gmail.com
    Twitter @truthcrushthee2

  • Reasons to vote “NO” Against creating a city of Stonecrest

    (1) The residents are not being told the truth as to the cost of a full service city. The feasibility study was done for 3 services, however the charter is a full service charter. There are no limitations on the services it can offer. A city the size of Stonecrest would cost more than 32 million dollars to operate, not the 8 million as being portrayed. Stonecrest has the same population size as Dunwoody.

    (2) No consecutive term limits for Mayor or City Council. All the other new cities had term limits in their charters.

    (3). Another level of government, increased property taxes.

    (4) Stonecrest budget of 8 million is not budgeted for police services. Their feasibility study was done for 3 services, residents want to know about police protection. No budget for Police (it would be cost an additional more than 8 million to add police services) Dunwoody and Brookhaven have police services.

    (5) No plan for Crime reduction

    (6) No credible economic model or budget for a city of 50,000 people which would be poised to become the largest city in DeKalb. The DeKalb / Stonecrest LCI economic plan cites poor performing schools, lack of infrastructure and class “A” office space as an impediment for future economic development and growth

    (7) The Stonecrest charter is the only cityhood charter with a CID included in it. None of the other new cities included a CID.

    (8) How will the East Metro CID boundaries be worked out with the proposed Stonecrest CID? The Stonecrest CID boundaries are not defined

    (9) Lack of demographic diversity

    (10) No major Industries; and no prospects of any coming. No major education Institutions.

    (11) Most of the businesses are retail and fast food. The area lacks business diversity , and the trend is that businesses are leaving the retail and industrial sectors in the Stonecrest area.

    (12) No real study on the impact of the new cities on the County budget and property taxes from the County perspective. The feasibility study did not conduct a study on the impact of Stonecrest on the County. In addition, the proponents of the city of Stonecrest are citing a suspect report that misrepresents the facts of the impact of Stonecrest on the County.

    (13) The city charter is a power grab. A city and the CID are corporations to protect the interest of the property owners. It does not give any additional rights to the individual. The word self-determination is not mentioned any where in the charter. The city will allow a small group of people to control the many. Self-determination will be for the business owners not the residents.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B6rHTsNOsLE_NVVFeVVMWFE0emM/view?usp=sharing

    Ed Williams. Ed.D. Chair
    Concerned Citizens For Effective Government
    Citizens Against Cityhood in DeKalb
    facebook.com/ccegdekalb
    ccegdekalb.blogspot.com
    (678) 304-7736
    email: truthcrushtheearth@gmail.com
    Twitter @truthcrushthee2

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