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Legislators file bills for proposed cities of Tucker, LaVista Hills

Annexation, new cities Avondale Estates D'ish Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake

Legislators file bills for proposed cities of Tucker, LaVista Hills

The Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Ken Lund, obtained via Wikimedia Commons

The Georgia State Capitol. Photo by Ken Lund, obtained via Wikimedia Commons

This story has been updated. 

Members of the state House introduced bills today on behalf of two cityhood proposals: Tucker and LaVista Hills.

Copies of the bills weren’t immediately available.

The Tucker bill’s sponsor is state Rep. Billy Mitchell, D-Stone Mountain. The LaVista Hills sponsor is state Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody. The cosponsor is state Rep. Scott Holcomb, D-Atlanta. Holcomb also cosponsored the Tucker Bill.

According to a press release from LaVista Hills Yes, if that bill is approved this year there will be a referendum in November.

The Tucker and LaVista Hills bills were the result of lengthy negotiations that were ultimately resolved by a special legislative subcommittee in December. That subcommittee approved a map that settled the overlapping boundaries between the two proposed cities. But there was an unresolved issue between the LaVista Hills proposal and an annexation proposal from a group called Together in Atlanta. That proposal would call for a referendum on annexing the Druid Hills community, as well as Emory and the Centers for Disease Control, into the city of Atlanta.

Holcomb said he wasn’t sure if the LaVista Hills map is still in conflict with Together In Atlanta’s map.

“I don’t know and I’ve been trying to get answers to all that as well,” Holcomb said. “What I have been told is the Governmental Affairs Committee, for whatever reason, isn’t going to entertain any changes to the map passed by the subcommittee. The subcommittee’s charge was only to address the issues of the northern border and southern border for Tucker. It was not to address any of the other border issues. He was under the impression that subcommittee took care of everything and that’s not the case. What I would say to those individuals who want to have some adjustments would be to make sure they speak up to the House Governmental Affairs Committee and their voice in the Senate and let their voices be heard.”

Here are the most up-to-date maps Decaturish has regarding the proposed boundaries of LaVista Hills and Tucker.

Holcomb said he did not know why Rep. Taylor is the lead sponsor on the LaVista Hills bill. Taylor does not represent the areas in the proposed city’s map.

“I don’t know the answer. You’d have to ask Tom,” he said. “I wasn’t involved in those discussions. Whatever communications there were between LaVista Hills and Tom, I wasn’t part of them.”

Taylor has not returned several messages from Decaturish seeking comment about the LaVista Hills bill.

Holcomb said his cosponsoring of the bills, “Is consistent with what I’ve said at town hall meetings and my newsletters and my reelection campaign and my testimony, that I would support referendum for these cities.”

“I feel pretty comfortable that my part of the district wants a referendum,” he said. “I know there are issues in other parts of the district and that’s a challenge in terms of having those addressed and those communities listened to, which is something I certainly am supportive of.”

The Tucker Bill is House Bill 515. The LaVista Hills bill is House Bill 520.

LaVista Hills Yes co-chairman Allen Venet said, ““Brookhaven, Sandy Springs and Dunwoody all have lower tax rates than DeKalb County and LaVista Hills will too. Instead of paying DeKalb County for services including police, zoning, and roads, the same tax dollars would shift over to a leaner city government.”

LaVista Hills supporters are currently obtaining an updated financial feasibility study. The study would determine whether the city could generate enough tax money to provide services. The LaVista Hills proposal actually combines to previous cityhood plans: a city of Briarcliff and a city of Lakeside. Those cities merged, and the new study would take that into account as well as the new boundary with the proposed city of Tucker.

“Studies by UGA’s non-partisan Carl Vinson Institute completed for the former Lakeside and Briarcliff cityhood proposals­­­ (the two groups that merged to form LaVista Hills) showed multi-million dollar annual surpluses. Using the new boundaries and CVI’s methodologies, LaVista Hills YES projects the new city will start with a surplus,” the press release from LaVista Hills Yes says.  “CVI is currently conducting a new study for LaVista Hills YES, the results of which will be released when the study is complete.”

In a statement released via Facebook, Tucker 2015 said, “The Tucker community took an important step forward today with the introduction in the House of Representatives of a Bill (HB515) that would allow a referendum to establish a City of Tucker. Sponsored by Rep. Billy Mitchell and co-sponsored by Rep. Scott Holcomb and Rep. Michele Henson, the bill has been assigned to the House Governmental Affairs Committee for consideration.”

This is a developing story. Keep checking Decaturish.com for updates.