Cityhood Poll Results & Town Hall Meeting

Please join me, State Senator Fran Millar, and State Representative Tom Taylor for a town hall meeting on cityhood and annexation this Tuesday, March 29, at 7:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall of Chamblee United Methodist Church, 4147 Chamblee Dunwoody Road.

I have received numerous questions regarding exactly what neighborhoods are being considered for incorporation into a new municipality or annexation into an existing one.

Click here to see a PDF map. The neighborhoods shaded in yellow are neighborhoods that could be annexed into Dunwoody or Chamblee, or could be joined with the neighborhoods shaded in green to form a new City of Brookhaven. If the neighborhoods shaded in yellow were to join Dunwoody or Chamblee, then the neighborhoods shaded in green nevertheless could form a City of Brookhaven.

Please keep in mind that none of the boundaries reflected on this map are etched in stone. I drew up the map to make it easier to discuss the neighborhoods that could be involved, but the map is subject to change to meet our community’s needs. I will discuss this map in greater detail at Tuesday’s meeting.

Recent discussion of the possibility of cityhood or annexation for the neighborhoods surrounding Murphey Candler Park, West Nancy Creek Drive, and Silver Lake prompted me to commission a reliable public opinion poll of registered voters in these neighborhoods.

The poll included 227 registered voters who vote at Montgomery Elementary School, Ashford Parkside, and St. Martin in the Fields Episcopal Church. Nobody was left out of the pool of registered voters that was sampled. Unlike the various computer surveys that are circulating around these neighborhoods, it was impossible to vote multiple times by deleting the “cookies” in a web browser.

The results of the poll reveal overwhelming support for legislation that would give Murphey Candler, West Nancy Creek, and Silver Lake residents the opportunity to choose whether or not to join a city.

When asked whether residents of these neighborhoods would favor or oppose legislation that would enable them to choose whether to annex into a neighboring city (Dunwoody or Chamblee) or create a new city, 63.5% responded that they would favor such legislation, 18.0% would oppose it, and 18.5% have no opinion.

When asked to choose between annexing into Dunwoody, annexing into Chamblee, creating a new City of Brookhaven, or remaining in unincorporated DeKalb County, residents in these neighborhoods gave an interesting response that merits further exploration: 30.8% prefer a new City of Brookhaven, 19.0% prefer to join Dunwoody, 10.3% prefer to join Chamblee, 21.6% prefer to remain unincorporated, and 18.3% have no opinion.

Two things are evident from these results: (1) approximately three-fifths of residents in the Murphey Candler, West Nancy Creek, and Silver Lake neighborhoods support further exploration of some kind of municipal solution, and (2) approximately one-fifth of residents oppose continuing this discussion and would prefer to remain in unincorporated DeKalb.

With the significant level of interest in a new City of Brookhaven, I am going to prepare a skeletal charter for such a city and introduce it prior to the conclusion of this year’s session of the General Assembly, which will end in less than a month.

This is important because it will enable us to comply with a rule of the House Governmental Affairs Committee which says that legislation to create a new municipality must be introduced in the first (odd-numbered) year of a two-year legislative term and cannot be passed until the second (even-numbered) year of the term. This will make the creation of a new City of Brookhaven a possibility for 2012 instead of having to wait three years until 2014.

Of course, the only way there will be a City of Brookhaven is if interest in cityhood exists south of Windsor Parkway in Historic Brookhaven and in neighborhoods east of Peachtree Road such as Brookhaven Heights, Brookhaven Fields, Ashford Park, and Drew Valley.

It is important to reiterate that living in a city does not add “more taxes” to your property tax bill. To the contrary, the existing “Unincorporated District Tax” line item would be transferred from the county to the new or annexing city. The city, in turn, likely would do a more efficient job of delivering services with these tax dollars. That has been the experience in both Chamblee and Dunwoody.

We deserve a choice. We don’t have to remain under the thumb of a county government that chooses to divert funds from providing crime scene investigators for burglaries and car break-ins so that the $150,000 salary of a do-nothing bureaucrat can be paid (follow the links for recent AJC articles). This $150,000 could be used to pay some police officers. Cities like Chamblee and Dunwoody routinely make decisions that avoid top-heavy administration and invest their tax dollars in ground-level resources that directly benefit local neighborhoods.

I look forward to continuing this conversation and hope to see you on Tuesday.

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