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State representative from Gwinnett County files bill for new DeKalb city of Vista Grove

Annexation, new cities Editor's Pick Metro ATL

State representative from Gwinnett County files bill for new DeKalb city of Vista Grove

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Time may be running out for the proposed DeKalb County cities of Vista Grove and Greenhaven in this year’s Legislative session, but a legislator from Gwinnett County has stepped in at the last minute to push a bill on Vista Grove’s behalf.

Andrew Flake with the Vista Grove Initiative said that state Rep. Timothy Barr, R-Lawrenceville, filed the bill on Vista Grove’s behalf on March 5. Crossover Day, the last day legislation can cross from the House to the Senate, is March 7.

Decaturish left a message with Barr seeking comment. A copy of the legislation was not immediately available.

Vista Grove, a proposed city for central DeKalb, includes much of the territory that was in the proposed city of LaVista Hills, which was defeated in 2015. Vista Grove would have a population of around 60,000 people. A feasibility study for the proposed city shows the city would bring in $10 million more in revenue than it would spend on providing services.

In an interview with Decaturish on Tuesday morning, March 5, Flake said that the cityhood movement would likely find a sponsor outside of DeKalb County because the entire delegation is now represented by Democrats, and Flake said Vista Grove wants to demonstrate bipartisan support.

“If we’re serious about getting bipartisan support, that’s necessarily going to be the case,” Flake said.

The bill has to go through hearings before it gets a vote in the House. Marjorie Snook with DeKalb Strong, a group opposed to cityhood, said the Governmental Affairs Committee amended its rules to rule out discussing any bills with a non-local sponsor. But committee members can always change the rules.

The news about the Vista Grove bill recalls some of the partisan history of the cityhood movement in metro Atlanta.

The partisan history of cityhood can be traced back to the formation of Sandy Springs in Fulton County. New cities have been vehemently opposed by Democrats that control the delegations of some Atlanta counties. To get around this, when the Republicans took control of the Legislature they changed the rules so that city legislation could be general legislation. This is why Sandy Springs finally formed in 2005 after decades of trying to become a city.

The Democratic sweep of the delegation in the Nov. 6 election raised questions about how cityhood bills would fare under a new political dynamic. DeKalb County cityhood bills have lost their greatest champions, notably state Sen. Fran Millar, who lost his seat to Sally Harrell.

This story will be updated if more information becomes available.

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