Chamblee, GA, February 10, 2016 – Commentary, by Mary Kay Woodworth – From 2012-2015, residents of north-central unincorporated DeKalb worked together with the goal of creating a new city for our community. The shared vision of LaVista Hills, a city that would provide local representation, efficient and accountable governance and a sense of place and community, vanished when the referendum was lost by a mere 139 votes.
As a leader of the former LaVista Hills cityhood effort, I fully support the idea of annexation of the areas that strongly supported the city of LaVista Hills into the city of Chamblee. Why the shift in support from a new city to annexation? The opportunity to create a new city of LaVista Hills has passed; there is no legislative support, which makes it a non-starter. For those who do not believe that this area’s commercial property will be annexed by Tucker and Brookhaven (thus making a future “residential-only area” unattractive for future annexations), review the video of the Chamblee Town hall meeting (2/8/15), where elected officials discuss this topic.
I urge my neighbors to take a hard look at the benefits of this annexation or be relegated to the status quo of unincorporated DeKalb County – and you can take this bet to Vegas – higher taxes and continued poor services. Will taxes be higher for non-senior citizens? It is a possibility. Will services be better? Absolutely.
Chamblee’s city manager and staff are currently preparing a detailed analysis of the economic feasibility of the proposed annexation area and considering both the financial implications and the impact of more than doubling the population on current citizens and service delivery. They have confidence, based on their history with two recent annexations, that their analysis and calculations will provide accurate data of feasibility. That is critical information to consider to move forward.
I’m not a “late adopter” to Chamblee. I’ve lived in this area most of my life. My family moved to Chamblee in 1968, my sister lives in Sexton Woods (Chamblee) in the house where we grew up. After moving to the Northlake area in 1987 and until my mom died in 2013, my husband Mark and I and our children would spend several days a week in Chamblee (our kids participated in youth sports and camps at Keswick Park and swam competitively at Dynamo Swim Club). We regularly shopped, dined and attended Chamblee events. Our kids are grown and mom’s gone, but Mark and I return to Chamblee week in and week out.
I have watched the changes in Chamblee from 1968 through today, and have observed what was a primarily blue-collar small city evolve and grow into today’s well-managed modern, forward-thinking city with a wonderfully diverse population that takes care of new and old citizens alike. City services are excellent, property values are increasing, and there is a solid economic development plan. Increased revenues from this sound, accountable, efficient management and planned economic development will only make Chamblee better, stronger, and a more attractive place to live.
I ask the citizens of Chamblee to consider what the annexation could bring to Chamblee. Add the financial strength of my community’s residential areas and resources such as Mercer University, UPS, a renovated Northlake commercial area and other successful, invested area businesses; Silverbacks Park and other recreation areas to be developed and renovated; an abundance of underutilized, under developed commercial/industrial real estate (Presidential Parkway area?); and smart, community service oriented residents who strive for the same things you have today in Chamblee – local representation where your input matters, efficient and accountable governance and a sense of place and community. Chamblee’s sense of place is growing with the historic downtown effort, the DECA and Huntley Hills communities (annexed in the last few years) and a long list of exciting, achievable plans that are in process. This is what drives me to support the effort to join their community and future.