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LaVista Hills co-chair says feasibility study recommended, not required

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LaVista Hills co-chair says feasibility study recommended, not required

Proposed map of LaVista Hills. Source: LaVista Hills Yes
Proposed map of LaVista Hills. Source: LaVista Hills Yes

Proposed map of LaVista Hills. Source: LaVista Hills Yes

The General Assembly made a few exceptions to its rules for creating new cities so legislation could move forward in this year’s session.

Typically new cities are a two-year process, but the two year rule has been waived this year for the proposed cities of Tucker and LaVista Hills. Another was waiving the need for a new feasibility study for the revised proposals for the cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker. Feasibility studies typically are required to ensure that cities will have enough tax revenue for the services they plan to provide.

In December, a special subcommittee settled a key boundary dispute between supporters of Tucker and LaVista Hills, splitting up property around Northlake Mall, a source of commercial tax revenue. At the time, it was thought that each city would need a new feasibility study. Tucker’s proposal has some slight variations. LaVista Hills combines the two previous proposals for Briarcliff and Lakeside. Since both already had feasibility studies, conducting another for LaVista Hills would’ve meant going back to donors for an additional $20,000 or so for a new one. Previous studies for Lakeside were conducted by the Carl Vinson Institute of government at the University of Georgia.

The new study won’t have to be completed for a bill to move forward, however.

LaVista Hills representatives clarified that point during a presentation at Young Israel on Sunday, Jan. 11. Allen Venet, co-chair of LaVista Hills Yes, said that a feasibility study is recommended, but not required. 

“A number of members of the legislature have told us to get one done anyway,” Venet said. “And it will be important for us to get one done anyway, so that’s our plan.”

Daniel Chapman, another member of LaVista Hills Yes, presented an optimistic picture of the proposed city’s finances, based on his estimates in the Lakeside feasibility study

Chapman said there would be no tax increase for residents of the proposed city.

“We believe that we are as strong if not stronger that the time the Carl Vinson study was conducted for Lakeside,” Chapman said.

According to LaVista Hills figures presented at the meeting on Sunday, projected revenue would be $35.9 million and expenditures would be $29.1 million, meaning the city could operate with a $6.8 million surplus. LaVista Hills also claims $46 million in commercial property has been added since the Carl Vinson Lakeside study. Properties gained include properties along Briar Vista, North Druid Hills Road and North DeKalb Mall, according to the presentation given on Sunday.

Like the newer cities of Brookhaven and Dunwoody, LaVista Hills would outsource some city services, like public works, Venet said. The Lakeside study estimated that city could pay for 83 police officers to patrol the streets.

There are still issues to work through with the LaVista Hills proposal. While the boundary with Tucker has been resolved, there is overlap between the LaVista Hills map and an annexation proposal from Together in Atlanta. TIA wants to bring areas around Briar Vista and Fernbank Elementary schools into the city of Atlanta.

Mary Kay Woodworth, co-chair of LaVista Hills Yes, said discussions with TIA have focused more on residential and not commercial property.

“They have said to us, ‘We don’t care about the commercial. Why don’t you go ahead and carve out all of the commercial property, including Toco Hill, Briarcliff area? You take that and we just want the people,'” Woodworth said. “We don’t think that’s right. We don’t think it’s proper and fair to the residents of these communities.”

Read more: This is the presentation from the Jan. 11 meeting at Young Israel.