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Greenhaven city proposal gets sponsor

Annexation and new cities Avondale Estates Decatur Metro ATL

Greenhaven city proposal gets sponsor

The new logo for the proposed city of Greenhaven.
The new logo for the proposed city of Greenhaven.

The new logo for the proposed city of Greenhaven.

State Rep. Pam Stephenson, D-Decatur, has agreed to sponsor a bill that would begin the process of turning most of unincorporated South DeKalb County into Georgia’s second largest city.

Greenhaven, formerly the City of South DeKalb, held a press conference Jan. 30 to announce its new name and outline its vision for what a new city would look like.

The proposed city would have a population of 300,000 and would include everything in DeKalb south of U.S. 78 up to I-285, excluding a proposed city of Stonecrest, and everything south of Memorial Drive on the other side of 285.

CCCSD President Kathryn Rice told Decaturish the group expects its feasibility study back sometime in February.

The primary goals of forming the city are economic development and ensuring the community isn’t stuck with the burden of paying the county’s pension obligations. The new cities that have formed, like Dunwoody and Brookhaven, aren’t required to support those pensions, something state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver mentioned during a recent interview. If the rest of DeKalb County incorporates, that could potentially shift the debt burden onto South DeKalb residents. CCCSD estimates the costs for unincorporated residents could increase from $91 per person to $141 per person.

But a new city could provide the impetus to reform the way the county’s pensions are funded, a handout from the group says.

“Once the city is formed, as 41 percent of the county population it can provide strong support to the county by advocating for an equitable payment from all cities,” the handout says.

Handout_Legislative 1-26-15

Greenhaven is one of several cityhood movements in DeKalb County hoping to advance in the state legislature this year. Others include LaVista Hills, Tucker and Stonecrest. No bills for new cities or annexation proposals have been introduced in the legislature. The Atlanta Journal Constitution’s analysis of the situation said the proposals for Tucker and LaVista Hills area ahead of their neighbors to the south in terms of the legislative process.

The story also said that while the House Government Affairs Committee set up rules for the cities going forward, like requiring a feasibility study before next year’s session, there could also be exceptions considered “on a case-by-case basis.” To read the full article, click here.

Feasibility studies, usually conducted by an institution like the the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, determine whether a proposed city can generate enough tax revenue to provide services.

Tucker supporters are already updating their feasibility study. On Jan. 30, the LaVista Hills Yes supporters put out another call for donations to help pay for a new feasibility study, which could cost $15,000. LaVista Hills combines the previous proposals for Lakeside and Briarcliff.

Until December, LaVista Hills and Tucker were in competition and had boundaries that overlapped in the Northlake Mall area. A legislative panel settled that dispute. LaVista Hills is also rooting on Greenhaven from afar.

After the name was announced, LaVista Hills Yes posted a message on its Facebook page, saying, “Our good friends from South DeKalb have chosen a name for their proposed city! We congratulate them on moving closer to a new city in their part of the county.”