DeKalb County, GA, September 30, 2014 – by Tom Doolittle, Contributor
As State Representative Scott Holcomb, (D-81, Northlake/Brookhaven) spoke during a Town Hall meeting at Evansdale Elementary Monday night, he was adamant about having a seat on a possible subcommittee, if formed, to settle the “next new city” boundary dispute affecting his district.
In an admittedly excruciating explanation, he bottom-lined a new legislatively-mandated process to voters from the pivotal OTP area disputed by Tucker and Lakeside (the proposed City of Briarcliff doesn’t include the residential area).
The House Government Affairs Committee (HGAC) has accepted a process advised by State Representative Mike Jacobs (R-80, Brookhaven/Chamblee), which mandates three dueling cityhood groups to negotiate boundaries by November 15. Short of an agreed settlement by the groups, a Government Affairs subcommittee of five House members will “do the job”. A subcommittee process would require public hearings and be more time consuming than if the proponent groups worked out new maps.
Rep. Holcomb, who lives within walking distance of Northlake Mall, wants a bi-partisan subcommittee. He says it would be expected to provide a “two-city” solution (Tucker and one other) for the HGAC to move forward. The three proponent groups can do whatever they want as long as they agree before their November 15 deadline. The discussions have been sticky enough since the 2014 legislative session that the Northlake resident says former Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd has offered himself as a mediator. Floyd is currently with influential Pendleton Consulting Group ( http://www.pendletonatlanta.com/pg/ )
The conundrum is described in this recent article by Decaturish.com, which includes important annexation issues at the fringes of the broadly consuming new city(ies) map: http://www.decaturish.com/2014/09/sunday-morning-meditation-game-zones/
Holcomb said he planned the Evansdale meeting to inform residents about the status of the legislative process that is forcing the boundary negotiation.
Holcomb said he was provided no formal leadership opportunity last year by decision-makers, and lawmakers faced a decision last year that would have to kill two cities if they chose the third. He said last year’s final hour attempt at a “compromise map”, brokered by Brookhaven’s Jacobs, was abandoned principally due to criticism by the Northlake Business Association objecting to the map’s splitting the Northlake Mall area. That was the first publicly described business interest involvement in a confusing last minute 2014 decision process that has never been fully sorted out and explained.
As leaders of the North Central DeKalb corridor’s three cityhood advocacy groups looked on—Mary Kay Woodworth, Allen Venet and Frank Auman of Lakeside, Briarcliff and Tucker respectively, Holcomb said that this year, the process is directed at a “two-city” solution. Holcomb expects there to be no delay in providing a referendum this year if legislation is passed by the HGAC—and projected that deferring to 2016 is not in the cards.
“Frankly the rest of the state is tired of DeKalb County”, he said referring to the amount of attention and energy the General Assembly has spent on cityhood matters.