UPDATE- News on new cities could come MondayBriarcliff Initiative member Allen Venet left, talks with Lakeside City Alliance Chairwoman Mary Kay Woodworth during a July 2 DeKalb Operations Task Force meeting. The two groups merged and became LaVista Hills YES. File Photo by Dan Whisenhunt
This story has been updated.
Supporters of creating a new DeKalb County city that combines the proposed cities of Briarcliff and Lakeside haven’t released a map as of today, Nov. 15.
The Nov. 15 deadline for a new map was established by the state House Governmental Affairs Committee. Proposals to create new cities failed in the 2014 session. In July, Briarcliff and Lakeside supporters announced they would be working together. Mary Kay Woodworth, with LakesideYES, said earlier this week, “We have made multiple offers to the Tucker cityhood movement and we’re still hopeful they’ll join our two groups in compromising.”
House Governmental Affairs Committee Charwoman Rep. Amy Carter, R-Valdosta, told Decaturish early Saturday afternoon that she hasn’t received any maps yet.
“I guess we’re going to give them the weekend,” Carter said.
Carter also said there would be a press conference on Monday, but Woodworth said Sunday that is not the case.
“Maps will be delivered to the Capitol tomorrow,” Woodworth said. “We do not have a press conference scheduled for Monday at the Capitol, I do not know where Rep. Carter received this information. At present we have not further comment.”
Woodworth also included this email the groups received from state Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-Brookhaven:
As you know, tomorrow is the deadline for reaching a compromise on proposed city boundaries in Central DeKalb. This deadline will not be extended.
If there is a compromise map which all three parties have signed, please deliver it to Craig Foster in Room 218 of the Capitol no later than Monday. If not, Chairman Carter will announce the next steps sometime very soon.
If there is a map to which at least two of the three parties have agreed, you may feel free to deliver it to Craig for purposes of showing your progress. This is not a requirement, however.
– Rep. Jacobs
The new map will also have bearing on the discussion among DeKalb cities about their annexation plans. One question: will the new map include any of the commercial area desired by existing cities, like Decatur and Avondale Estates?
If the three cityhood groups did not turn in a compromise map, Carter has said she will appoint a panel of five House members to draw the maps for them. The prospect of a representative from Valdosta appointing a committee of five people who don’t represent DeKalb has everyone here a little spooked.
Carter said there likely will be a member of the DeKalb delegation on the panel, if she has to appoint one. She said the panel will most likely be made up of members from the House Governmental Affairs Committee, which includes DeKalb delegation members.
“I heard from those who wanted to go with one city and those who wanted to go with another city,” Carter said. “There are way too many opinions about what should happen with that part of the county as it is. I’m sympathetic to it, definitely, and I understand the emotional toll it’s taken on many.”
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So did Carter ever think she’d spend this much time on a county that isn’t even in her district?
“No, I did not think that I would have to spend really the enormous amount of time I’ve had to spend …,” Carter said. “It is a part of the job. It is a part of the chairmanship. I accepted that position, and this comes with it.”
Carter said she’s worked to be transparent and fair to everyone involved. She said transparency was lacking at the end of the 2014 session when representatives from DeKalb tried to move forward with cityhood bills. This year’s session was shorter than usual due to the 2014 elections.
“I feel like I have been extremely thoughtful with the process,” Carter said. “I have not been urgent in any way. I’ve listened to every person, every citizen who spoke. I was fair in the process in giving each one of the cities an allotted amount of time, and gave each one the same amount. You know the committee as a whole did not move on it because of the lack of transparency at the end of this past session. We feel like we’ve been as fair as we possibly could be.”
Anne Lerner with Tucker 2015 said that Tucker supporters aren’t involved in the last-minute discussions between Briarcliff and Lakeside. She hasn’t seen any new maps and said Tucker’s hasn’t changed.
“I do know that (state Rep. Mike) Jacobs sent an email yesterday just saying that they would expect maps to be brought down there on Monday if anything is worked out over the weekend,” Lerner said. “I don’t know if the Briarcliff, Lakeside people will bring whatever their map is. It puts us in an unfair disadvantage. They should be working as one group now. It’s kind of a bizarre situation.”
Attempts to reach Jacobs have been unsuccessful.
Lerner said she’d like to know if the new maps will overlap with Tucker’s.
“We were told several times, we know there’s going to be a Tucker and we know there’s going to be something else,” Lerner said. “What is that something else?”
Correction: An earlier version of this story misquoted Anne Lerner. The quote has been corrected.