Tag Archives: Cityhood

COVE Report – March 12, 2015

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March 12, 2015

Legislative Update

Atlanta Annexation of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill

Rep. Pat Gardner, Chair of the newly formed Atlanta House Delegation has sponsored a bill for annexation of Druid Hills and adjacent areas, including all of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill. The bill is here [Atlanta Annexation Bill ] The census map with block numbers corresponding to the bill is located here [VE Census Block Map]  (you must download the map to see the full details or click here for a close up ). A full map from the legislature should be made available soon. If you wish to contact Rep. Gardner she may be reached at 404.656.0265 or pat@patgardner.org.

3/13/15 – Addition – The latest map as of yesterday afternoon. This map now shows Mason Mill split between municipalities. Victoria Estate remains entirely in the proposed annexation. atlanta-annex-N.-Druid-map

3/12/15 – Addition – Here is a map posted by (GIS professional) on Decaturish. This may be the best representation of the proposed annexation area prior to receiving an official map from the legislature. atlanta-annex-map.

3/12/15 – And here is the draft legislative map DH annexation map (2)

DeKalb Reforms Held Hostage

Proposed ethics, audit, and procurement reforms to DeKalb County require legislative approval. Bills based on national best practices with widespread community and political support were held hostage by Senator Fran Millar who refused to let them be sponsored in the Senate. Now the House has passed the same bills and sent them to the Senate for approval. Call or write to ask Senator Millar to stop jeopardizing county reforms (see information below).

Senator Elena Parent Town Hall Meeting, Thursday (TONIGHT) @ Young Israel 6:30 – 8:00 pm

Hear the latest updates on Cityhood, Atlanta Annexation of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill, DeKalb reform bills, and other goings on at the capitol. If this follows the same format as her previous town hall meeting, she will provide details on current legislation and then open the floor for Q&A. Come early to get a seat as there should be a large turnout of pro and anti-LaVista Hills residents. Young Israel, 2056 LaVista Road NE, 30329, 6:30 – 8:00 pm.

LaVista Hills and Other Cityhood Bills

Various bills to municipalize most of DeKalb County are poised to be voted on in the Legislature. No bills have passed to both the House and Senate, a requirement for approval. The deadline is “Crossover Day,” which is tomorrow. It’s quite possible there will be a flurry of last minute activity and approvals by the end of Friday. Attend the Town Hall meeting tonight for an update.

3/12/15 – Correction – Cross over day is tomorrow 3/13/15

Write Senator Fran Millar for DeKalb County Reforms

Proposed ethics, audit, and procurement reforms to DeKalb County require legislative approval. Bills based on national best practices with widespread community and political support were held hostage by Senator Fran Millar who refused to let them be sponsored in the Senate. Now the house has passed the same bills and is sending them to the Senate for approval. Call or write Senator Millar to stop jeopardizing county reform.

Let Senator Millar know that it’s unacceptable to block these reforms that were recommended by the Operations Task Force on which he sat! There is no excuse for jeopardizing these reforms for political “horse trading” on other issues and bills.

Call Senator Millar’s office at (404) 463-2260 (His aides are polite and will note your call) or

Email: Senator Fran Millar (Fran.Millar@senate.ga.gov)
Copy: Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle (casey.cagle@ltgov.ga.gov), Chairman of the State & Local Government Operations Committee John Albers (info@senatoralbers.com).

For more details on the bills go to the citizen led group Blueprint DeKalb which was instrumental in crafting this legislation.

Sample Email to Fran Millar:

Dear Senator Millar:

I ask you to support the DeKalb County audit, ethics and procurement reform bills approved by the House and before you in the Senate. These reforms are based on national best standards, have widespread community and political support, and were recommended by the Operations Task Force on which you sat.

I understand you blocked Senate versions of these bills. County reform is too important and requires your leadership, not political posturing. Regardless of any outcome on cityhood initiatives, all can agree that the county requires reform. I ask you to remove yourself as an obstacle to these reforms and support these bills, without delay.


Your Name Here
Your Address Here [This must be included to have any impact!]

COVE Report – February 23, 2015

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February 23, 2015

Ask for County Reform!

dekalb_seal_hi-resBills have been dropped in the legislation for hard fought reforms to the county government in the areas of ethics, auditing, and county purchasing. There are individuals attempting to counter these best-practices solutions for political reasons and dilute their effectiveness. Voice your opinion today to help move these through into law!
Kathie Gannon Explains and Template Letter
COVE Report “Demand Good Governance Today!”

Cityhood Letters

There is still an opportunity to write the three State representatives who have great influence over the outcome of city legislation. These are Ed Rynders, John Meadows, and David Ralston. Click for more





From Carl Lange

Last week Wendy Christopher posted an urgent alert about the downed tree on Houston Mill and resulting traffic blockage. An automated alert went to all VE Nextdoor users, saving me the hassle as I was about to drive down Houston Mill. Thanks Wendy!

Giselle Martin posted about a suspicious door to door person in VE. Rapid replies resulted in a call to the police as well as a determination of the person’s intent. Thanks Giselle!

DeKalb Police have been posting regularly about arrests in the county on Nextdoor to our neighborhood.

If you are not already a member, sign up! It’s Free!    nextdoor.com

“Cityhood & Annexation: Just the Facts” Meeting Cancelled

The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce and Leadership DeKalb meeting scheduled for tomorrow morning has been cancelled in anticipation of poor weather. The meeting has not been rescheduled.

COVE Membership Dues

Join Now

Look soon for the annual membership dues notifications coming to Victoria Estates residents. If you’re not already a member, please join! For those who have already renewed, thanks!

Click “Join Now” to pay online for a new membership.

Cityhood/County Initiative Links

Blueprint DeKalb

Seeking comprehensive solutions as big as our problems. Governmental transparency is a must. Citizens’ voices count.

DeKalb Strong

DeKalb Strong supports a moratorium on city hood and annexation proposals in DeKalb County to give citizens time to participate in a deliberative, comprehensive, and equitable process for improving DeKalb County governance.

LaVista Hills Yes

LakesideYES and the City of Briarcliff Initiative have collaborated to create a one-city solution for our area of North/Central DeKalb County.

Together in Atlanta

Together in Atlanta is a grassroots effort by neighbors who are seeking annexation into the City of Atlanta.

COVE Report – February 16, 2015

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January 26: DeKalb County Presents Legislative Agenda to Delegation…Sort of

marthaMartha Pacini – February 13

On January 26, members of the DeKalb County legislative delegation, the DeKalb County CEO’s office, the CEO’s leadership team, at least four county commissioners, numerous lobbyists and more than a few interested citizens crowded into room 605 at the Coverdell Legislative Office Building to review DeKalb County’s legislative agenda. It seems, however, that the county commission had not yet approved the legislative agenda—two of the commissioners, Kathie Gannon and Jeff Rader, said they had not seen it—nor did it incorporate the final recommendations of the Operations Task Force, which the legislative delegation discovered by asking questions about whether the legislative agenda had been driven by the task force recommendations.

Nonetheless, the presentation proceeded. With assistance from the County’s new program developed by Georgia Tech, Interim CEO Lee May was able to outline for the first time the real cost impacts of annexation and incorporation on the county. This demonstration highlighted the effect on the county of having large swaths of commercial/industrial property annexed or drawn into new city lines, because these properties generally pay more in taxes than they receive in services.

Following this demonstration, ICEO May outlined his six primary recommendations, although they were not yet approved by the county commission:

(1) The formation of a charter review commission;
(2) Ethics board reform;
(3) The formation of an independent internal audit function;
(4) The development of a purchasing policy that would be approved by the commission once developed by the administration;
(5) The development of a special tax district to provide funding for unfunded legacy costs as a result of annexation/incorporation;
(6) HOST reform, with a potential SPLOST to fund infrastructure projects.

The ICEO also requested a hiatus on annexations and incorporations for a year.

He also suggested that there could be a possible sharing of the “city portion” of non-residential property tax revenues when new cities are incorporated to help offset the impact of the new cities on the rest of the county.

While the intent of the recommendations was well received, most meeting attendees noted the lack of formal approval by the county commission and the absence of coordination with the task force recommendations.

Google Fiber Coming to Atlanta, Decatur, Avondale… (Victoria Estates?)

Google_fiber_logoGoogle announced it has selected Atlanta and certain surrounding cities to provide its new super high speed internet (and TV). With speeds an average of 100 times faster than typical internet, this brings great competition for an important service.

Victoria Estates is not currently included in the proposed service area, but you can “vote” for Victoria Estates by visiting the Google fiber site. Click here. Simply type your street address and enter your (free) google email address, and it will register as a request for Victoria Estates. Google is recording your responses to determine which neighborhoods to extend to.

Thanks to COVE board member David Woolf for bringing this to our attention.

City of Decatur Officially Announces Google Fiber, Answers “What’s Next?”

NPR Story about Municipal Broadband

City Annexation/Incorporation Plans: How They Might Affect Victoria Estates

Martha Pacini – February 13

Decatur masterplanmapThe City of Decatur has announced plans to annex property that includes the commercial property at the intersection of North Decatur and Clairmont (http://www.decaturish.com/2014/12/decatur-commission-approves-annexation-plan/). Several neighborhood associations have registered their objections to the plan, including the Druid Hills Civic Association, the Clairmont Heights Civic Association and the Medlock Area Neighborhood Association. Their concerns, as stated by the Druid Hills Civic Association, center on “any city annexation proposal that includes a significant amount of commercial property while excluding the surrounding residential area, thereby reducing the tax base needed to support that residential area.”

For Victoria Estates residents, we might think that this issue has no affect on us, and therefore we have nothing to do with it. Consider this, though. When commercial property is annexed or drawn into city boundaries two things happen, both of which have a disproportionate effect on unincorporated DeKalb County, including Victoria Estates.

First, because commercial properties are considered “donor” properties, they generally pay more in taxes than they cost in providing services. For this reason, both the county and cities covet them. When a city annexes or incorporates a commercial area that was previously in an unincorporated part of the county, a percentage of the property taxes are shifted to the city in exchange for the city’s taking on a certain number of services, usually parks, permitting, road maintenance, code enforcement, and sometimes police. When a commercial area is annexed or incorporated, the county’s ability to use the surplus thrown off by commercial properties to offset the costs of providing services to the residential properties is compromised, and this becomes especially apparent when commercial property is annexed without the residential property that abuts it.

Second, commercial properties are the source of sales taxes for HOST, 20 percent of which goes toward capital maintenance (think: roads, sidewalks & bridges). When a commercial property is within a city, the capital improvement portion of the sales tax goes predominantly toward city improvements. And, if the residential property surrounding the commercial property isn’t annexed, then the funds needed for proper maintenance of the area are not supported by the sales tax the neighborhoods are spending at the commercial property, but are instead left to the county to fund.

If this is an issue that concerns you, consider contacting your state legislative delegation and making your concerns known. The email list for the entire legislative delegation is on the COVE website, and we know that legislators do pay attention to their emails.

In addition, Leadership DeKalb is hosting a breakfast on Tuesday, February 24, at Georgia Piedmont Technical College on cityhood and annexation. http://www.leadershipdekalb.org/2015/01/cityhood-annexation-just-the-facts/

Several people from Victoria Estates will be attending this meeting, which costs $30 for non-members. If you are interested in carpooling, please contact Martha Pacini or Pat Killingsworth.

Georgia Legislative Session 2015: Email Your Opinion to 3 Who Matter

01 Your Voice CountsMartha Pacini – February 14

New city bills are in the works during the 2015 Georgia legislative session. While Victoria Estates is not currently included in any maps for new cities, things change quickly…even overnight, as we all discovered last year. Thanks to some sleuthing by one of our neighbors, we have come to understand that there are three people in addition to the DeKalb Legislative Delegation that you should make sure know where you live and what you want regarding Victoria Estates and new city formation.

In addition to writing to the DeKalb Legislative Delegation [Carl has been nice enough to put a link here to their email addresses], plan to write as well to the following three people:

• Representative Ed Rynders, Chair of the House Governmental Affairs Committee, erynders@bellsouth.net. The Governmental Affairs Committee handles all new city formation bills.
• Representative John Meadows, Chair of the House Rules Committee, john.meadows@house.ga.gov. Representative Meadows was a main figure in last year’s delay of the new city formation.
• Speaker David Ralston, Speaker of the House of Representatives, david.ralston@house.ga.gov. He should be addressed as Mr. Speaker or Speaker Ralston in any correspondence.

A few pointers for your emails:

• In the subject line, put why you are writing: The formation of new cities in DeKalb County.
• Be aware that this is for new cities only. Annexations are considered local legislation and go through the DeKalb delegation.
• Write individually to each person, even if it is a cut-and-paste. It will have more impact.
• State clearly in the first sentence where you live and why you are writing—“I am a ___-year resident of Victoria Estates in Central DeKalb County, and I am writing in favor/against the formation of the new city of ___.”
• Include your name and address at the end.

Writing to your elected officials does matter. During the “line-drawing” exercise to divide LaVista Hills and Tucker, the chair of the subcommittee heat-mapped every email he received so that he could tell where they were coming from and what they wanted. He used this heat map to draw the lines.

It helps COVE members to represent the neighborhood better if we know what our neighbors are thinking, so if you feel comfortable with it, please share with us a copy of your email. Post here at victoriaestates.info or email to cove@victoriaestates.info

Georgia Legislative Navigator

AJC Legislative Navigator: a daily journal of all votes and all changes in bill status to track day-by-day the legislature’s progress. Click for more

DeKalb Schools

The DeKalb Board of Education Superintendent Public Survey

The DeKalb Board of Education has an online survey for input and feedback. The link includes a timeline for the selection process and a calendar of events. Click for more

Dear Decaturish – The wrong people were in the room

Decaturish.com – Steve Perkins – February 9, 2015

The “Meeting notes” leaked by the Druid Hills Charter Cluster community are fascinating and stupefying in the same instant.  Click for more

Druid Hills Charter Cluster officially disbands

Decaturish.com – Dan Whisenhunt – February 12, 2015

The board met on Feb. 10 and voted to dissolve Druid Hills Charter Cluster Inc. The group’s announcement comes after a recent attempt to restart discussions about the charter cluster idea with DeKalb County Superintendent Michael Thurmond. Click for more

Druid Hills High School student: Annexation will wipe out what made my school great

AJC – Maureen Downey – February 9, 2015

Druid Hills High School senior Jacob Pierce shares his view of the proposed neighborhood annexation that would splinter his high school. Click for more

Druid Hills annexation into Atlanta: ‘An opportunity to join a city on the ascent’

AJC – Maureen Downey – February 9, 2015

Natalie DiSantis is a past resident of Atlanta who now resides in the unincorporated DeKalb community seeking annexation into Atlanta. She supports Together In Atlanta… Click for more

Cityhood/County Initiative Links

Blueprint DeKalb

Seeking comprehensive solutions as big as our problems.  Governmental transparency is a must.  Citizens’ voices count.

DeKalb Strong

DeKalb Strong supports a moratorium on city hood and annexation proposals in DeKalb County to give citizens time to participate in a deliberative, comprehensive, and equitable process for improving DeKalb County governance.

LaVista Hills Yes

LakesideYES and the City of Briarcliff Initiative have collaborated to create a one-city solution for our area of North/Central DeKalb County.

Together in Atlanta

Together In Atlanta is a grassroots effort by neighbors who are seeking annexation into the City of Atlanta.


COVE Report – January 18, 2015

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Two Opportunities to Discuss Cityhood, Annexations & the County with Your Elected Officials! – Brought to you by COVE

Howard Mosby, Chair of the DeKalb Legislative Delegation

MosbyHoward175Thursday, January 22, 6:30 pm
Location: Home of Peter Sederberg & Jan Love, 873 Castle Falls Drive

As the chair of the legislative delegation, Rep. Mosby can provide us with insight on what to expect during the upcoming legislative session and how to make our voices heard. This meeting is for Victoria Estates residents and COVE guests.

Lee May, Interim CEO, DeKalb County

May 2Saturday, January 24, 12:30 pm
Location: Home of Pat & Scott Killingsworth, 1364 Rainier Falls Drive

As the interim CEO of DeKalb County, ICEO May will be presenting the county’s legislative agenda to the delegation on Monday, January 26. This is a chance to hear about it first-hand and discuss the agenda directly with the person creating it. ICEO May can also answer questions about county reform, improvement plans and challenges. This meeting is for Victoria Estates residents and COVE guests.

General Assembly will decide DeKalb issues | AJC Latest News

State lawmakers will likely give DeKalb County a good deal of their attention during this year’s leg…

Interim CEO May to Central DeKalb area: Unincorporated DeKalb County still a viable option

DeKalb County, GA, January 16, 2015 – by Trey Benton – Applause broke early out as Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May… click for more    Click for video of meeting

Together in Atlanta

“Together In Atlanta is an effort by parents and residents from the neighborhoods near Emory University and within the Druid Hills High School attendance zone, seeking to achieve annexation into the City of Atlanta, with the public schools within the annexed area becoming part of Atlanta Public Schools and other preferred local governmental infrastructure, such as neighborhood planning units (NPUs), significantly improved law enforcement-to-resident ratios, leading-edge parks and greenspace, and substantially higher per-pupil funding (resulting in higher teacher salaries) due to Atlanta’s much stronger and more diverse tax base.” Together in Atlanta

DeKalb Strong

A newly formed organization is promoting a moratorium on new cities in DeKalb County.

“Worried about the chaotic process of forming new cities and annexation properties in DeKalb? Even though the map lines continue to shift and change, some proponents of new cities are still pushing for a vote as soon as possible, maybe even as early as this May.
Meanwhile, the effect that these new cities will have on taxes, schools, and quality of life are still unknown. Such serious and long-lasting decisions require far more study and thought!
We have formed an organization, DeKalb Strong, to fight against the new cities and annexations as they are constituted in 2015. If municipalization of the county is inevitable, the process should be reasonable, comprehensive, equitable, and feature involvement of affected citizenry: the current process is none of these.
There are many ways that you can help us! “
DeKalb Strong

Comparison of Remaining in Unincorporated DeKalb vs. Joining the City of Atlanta

The article features a comparison of tax burdens, services, schools, governance. Click here

Another comparison by DeKalb Strong Click here

Blueprint DeKalb

Blueprint DeKalb continues to work for reform to DeKalb county government through bills to be introduced in the 2015 legislative session. To sign onto the recommendations go to Blueprint DeKalb.  Also, be sure to thank Victoria Estates residents Martha Pacini and Pat Killingsworth for their many hours of effort on these recommendations!

Atlanta Regional Commission Survey

The Atlanta Regional Commission is asking how the region should address a future of rapid change and innovation. Your survey answers will help inform Regional Plan policy and how to respond to upcoming trends in technology. Click here


Express your views to the following individuals concerning Victoria Estates’ future. Current proposals for Victoria Estates are to remain unincorporated/moratorium on cityhood or annexation by the city of Atlanta.

DeKalb Delegation

Stacey Abrams stacey.abrams@house.ga.gov, Karen Bennett karen.bennett@house.ga.gov, Dee Dawkins-Haigler dee.dawkins-haigler@house.ga.gov, Karla Drenner karla.drenner@house.ga.gov, Michele Henson michele.henson@house.ga.gov, Scott Holcomb scott.holcomb@house.ga.gov, Mike Jacobs mike.jacobs@house.ga.gov, Darshun Kendrick darshun.kendrick@house.ga.gov, Rahn Mayo rahn.mayo@house.ga.gov, Billy Mitchell billy.mitchell@house.ga.gov, Howard Mosby@house.ga.gov, Mary Margret Oliver mary.oliver@house.ga.gov, Tonia Peterson-Anderson mspete16@yahoo.com, Pamela Stephenson pamela.stephenson@house.ga.gov, Tom Taylor tom.taylor@house.ga.gov, Ernest Williams ernest.williams@house.ga.gov
Gloria Butler gloria.butler@senate.ga.gov, Elena Parent elena.parent@senate.ga.gov, Gail Davenport gail.davenport@senate.ga.gov, Steve Henson stevehenson@mindspring.com, Emanuel Jones emanj@mindspring.com, Fran Millar fran.millar@senate.ga.gov, Ronald Ramsey ronald.ramsey@senate.ga.gov

Cityhood – House Governmental Affairs Committee

Chair Amy Carter (amy.carter@house.ga.gov), Vice Chair Buzz Brockway (buzz.brockway@house.ga.gov), Tyrone Brooks (tyrone.brooks@house.ga.gov), Barry Fleming (barry.fleming@house.ga.gov), Hugh Floyd (hughfloyd@mindspring.com), Mark Hamilton (mark.hamilton@house.ga.gov), Dustin Hightower (dustin.hightower@house.ga.gov), Kidd Culver (“Rusty”) (rusty.kidd@house.ga.gov), John Meadows (john.meadows@house.ga.gov), Alisha Morgan (alisha@alishamorgan.com), Howard Mosby (howard.mosby@house.ga.gov) DeKalb Delegation, Larry O’Neal (larry.oneal@house.ga.gov), Mary Margaret Oliver (mmo@mmolaw.com) DeKalb Delegation, Alan Powell (alanpowell23@hotmail.com), Jay Powell (jay.powell@house.ga.gov), Bruce Williamson (bruce.williamson@house.ga.gov)

Intragovernmental Coordination Committee – Deals with Annexation Efforts

Chair: Jan Tankersley jan.tankersley@house.ga.gov, Vice Chair: Jon Carson john.carson@house.ga.gov, Kevin Tanner kevin.tanner@house.ga.gov, Kimberly Alexander kimberly.alexander@house.ga.gov, Tonya Anderson tonya.anderson@house.ga.gov DeKalb Delegation, Simone Bell simone.bell@house.ga.gov, Patty Bentle patty.bentley@house.ga.gov, Bruce Broadrick bruce.broadrick@house.ga.gov, Brooks Coleman brooks.coleman@house.ga.gov, Demetrius Douglas demetrius.douglas@house.ga.gov, Ed Rynders erynders@bellsouth.net, Chuck Sims chuck.sims@house.ga.gov, Pam Stevenson pam.stephenson@house.ga.gov Dekalb Delegation, Brian Strickland brian.strickland@house.ga.gov


House of Representatives: Simone Bell (simonebell2012@gmail.com), Roger Bruce (rbruce5347@aol.com), LaDawn Jones (ladawnbjones@gmail.com), Sheila Jones (sheila.jones@house.ga.gov), Margaret Kaiser (margaret.kaiser@house.ga.gov), Mable Thomas (ablemabledistrict56@gmail.com), Keisha Waites (keisha.waites@house.ga.gov), Joe Wilkinson (joe@joewilkinson.org)

Senate: Vincent Fort (vincent.fort@senate.ga.gov), Hunter Hill Hunter.Hill@senate.ga.gov ), Donzella James (donzella.james@senate.ga.gov), Nan Orrock (nan.orrock@senate.ga.gov), Horacena Tate(horacena.tate@senate.ga.gov

Legislation Email Guide

COVE Report – January 7, 2015

2015 is going to be an interesting year. For those who do not know, Victoria Estates is included in the Atlanta annexation map. In addition, Lavista Hills is working to firm up its Southern boundary in preparation for conducting its Carl Vinson feasibility study. And, several nearby neighborhoods are grappling with potential annexation by the City of Brookhaven. Victoria Estates residents are best served by staying informed about all of the city hood and annexation issues and making their opinions known to their legislators.

Atlanta Annexation Meeting – Tonight, January 7, 7:30 pm

For those who missed the recent presentations by the Together in Atlanta group and Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan, you will have other opportunities to meet with them and hear from them. The Merry Hills Homeowners Association is planning a meeting for this Wednesday, January 7 at 7:30 PM at the Young Israel of Toco Hills Synagogue (2056 Lavista Rd. at the intersection of Lavista and Houston Mill). At this meeting, Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan, together with Matt Lewis of Together in Atlanta, will be speaking.

Druid Hills Schools – Cityhood Initiatives Meeting – Thursday, January 8, 6:30 pm

The Druid Hills PTSA has put together a meeting on how cityhood initiatives could affect Druid Hills High School and all five feeder elementary schools–Avondale, McClendon, Briar Vista, Fernbank and Laurel Ridge–for Thursday, January 8 in the Uhry Theatre from 6:30 to 8 PM. They are pursuing a wide range of speakers to address all aspects of this topic, and they will be posting the speakers on the Druid Hills PTA website as soon as they are confirmed.

LaVista Hills Organizers – Sunday, January 11, 7:30 PM

Young Israel of Toco Hills, Lavista Road, Atlanta, GA
We have been invited by the Merry Hills Civic Association to attend a meeting on Sunday, 1/11, at 7:30 with the organizers of the new city of LaVista Hills. Even though Victoria Estates is not currently within the LaVista Hills map, it is still important to stay informed on the development of this new city. As we discovered last year, maps can change quickly.

DeKalb Government Operations Task Force makes recommendations for Reform

by The Brookhaven Post
DEKALB COUNTY, GA, January 2, 2014 – by Staff Reports – The DeKalb Government Operations Task Force met for the final time on December 19 and made a series of recommendations regarding the future of DeKalb County. Meeting since June, The Operations Task Force was established by an Executive Order by Interim CEO Lee May to explore and study (1) […]
Read more of this post

Kudos to Martha Pacini, Pat Killingsworth, and others who have dedicated hundreds of hours of personal time to BlueprintDeKalb. Some of their recommendations concerning real reform of DeKalb Government may be considered by the legislature for approval this year!

COVE Report – December 11, 2014

Victoria Estates Neighborhood Meeting on Proposed Atlanta Annexation – Tonight, December 11

Featured Speaker: Alex Wan, Atlanta City Councilmember
Date: Thursday, December 11
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Home of Barb Zehnbauer/Tim Buchman
961 Castle Falls Drive NE
Atlanta, GA 30329

Councilmember Alex Wan has served as a member of Atlanta City Council since 2010. He represents District 6, which includes Ansley Park, Atwood Park, Brookwood Hills, Druid Hills, Lindridge/Martin Manor, Midtown, Morningside, Piedmont Heights, Sherwood Forest, Virginia-Highland, Lindbergh/Morosgo. While Councilmember Wan did not draw the map that is currently under discussion, he is a good source for answering questions you may have about the annexation process and the City of Atlanta.


5 December 2014

Study finds 2,922 students will be disenfranchised and displaced, taxes on senior
citizens will increase significantly and Fernbank Science Center will be lost to all
DeKalb students
Today, Superintendent Michael Thurmond issued a report on the impacts of the
proposed annexation of the Druid Hills neighborhood into the City of Atlanta. The
proposed Druid Hills annexation plan is supported by “Together in Atlanta,” a
local group of residents advocating for annexation.
The proposed Druid Hills annexation plan would result in significantly higher
taxes, disenfranchisement and displacement of 2,922 students, and districtwide
loss of instructional opportunities, athletic programs, instructional staff, and
funding potential.
“Innocent students will suffer under this proposed annexation plan,” said Mr.
Thurmond. “With this proposal, the focus and priority for public education will be
on the wants of adults and not the needs of children.”
Highlights of the annexation’s impact on the DCSD include:
– Property taxes for senior citizens over the age of 70 years with incomes of
less than $82,000 will see their property taxes increased by $4,000, or more
than 200 percent. All other property tax payers will experience increases in
taxes by the City of Atlanta.
– A total of 2,922 students in the District will be disenfranchised and
displaced by the annexation with the largest impact being 1,075 students at
Druid Hills High School. Similar impacts will be seen at Druid Hills Middle
School, Fernbank Elementary School, Briar Vista Elementary School,
Laurel Heights School, and the International Center.
– 1,626 students and parents in 37 schools will no longer have access to
DeKalb school choice options.
– 100,000 students will no longer have access to the Fernbank Science
Center resulting in the loss of a STEM Training Center. (DeKalb County has
four of the 11 statewide STEM certified schools with 48 schools working on
– The old Briarcliff High School, a long-term fixed asset for the DCSD with a
potential value of $50 million, could be forced from the District.
– One of five District stadiums that serve 18 high schools and 18 middle
schools will be lost resulting in a possible loss or reduction of junior
varsity soccer and lacrosse.
A complete copy of the impact report may be found at: www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/

Quinn Hudson


December 9, 2014

“Together In Atlanta responds to correct errors in Superintendent Michael Thurmond’s presentation”

DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Superintendent Michael Thurmond made a presentation to the public and the Board of Education regarding Atlanta annexation at the December 8 Board Meeting. Together In Atlanta (TIA) has proposed to maintain the integrity of the Fernbank and Briar Vista Elementary School communities through annexation to Atlanta, in light of the municipalization of DeKalb, which has gained momentum since 2008. While Mr. Thurmond’s interest in the Druid Hills Cluster is welcome, his presentation contained errors and information not up to date. Although the Superintendent responded negatively to DSCD Board Member’s request he meet with TIA last night and has previously shown no interest in the annexation movement, TIA is happy to provide this information so that correct information might be disseminated. We share the goal of success for all students, and the provision of clear and accurate information so that the democratic process of choice can be best-pursued.
Together In Atlanta exists as a result of municipalization efforts across DeKalb County that commenced in 2008 and resulted in the cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven. In 2012 and 2013, several cityhood movements gained momentum in the General Assembly, including a City of DeKalb, Lakeside, Briarcliff, Tucker, and Stonecrest. The attendance zones for Fernbank and Briar Vista elementary schools, the core of communities, was bisected and affected by many of these legislative proposals. The result would break communities with decades of cohesion. Together In Atlanta sought a plan that would maintain the community, while not affecting the rights of self-determination or cohesion of other elementary school zones. The result is a map that follows exactly the longstanding DCSD zone boundaries for Fernbank and Briar Vista elementary schools.
TIA has Met with Cityhood Proponents and Recommended Adams Stadium, the former Briarcliff High School, and International Center Complex be Excluded from Annexation
When the LaVista Hills map was recently published, TIA reached out proactively to its organizers to resolve conflicts – including suggesting that the Adams Stadium/former Briarcliff High School/International Center complex be included in the LaVista Hills map, not the Atlanta map. This resolution would preserve those facilities for DCSD students. No families live on that property and therefore the integrity of the Briar Vista community would not be harmed by this resolution maintaining TIA’s principle for keeping the elementary schools together. LaVista Hills gains strength and viability with commercial and educational assets. We expect to have similar conversations with Decatur representatives. We believe there are solutions that meet each party’s needs around the edges of all our maps. Had the Superintendent contacted TIA or others involved in these discussions, he would have been aware that TIA’s has clearly and specifically proposed to exclude the Adams Stadium/former Briarcliff High School/International Center complex.
The challenge for all of us, inside the Atlanta annexation map and outside, is that we each lose a building, while maintaining our community. Inside the map communities lose a Middle School building, outside the map communities lose a High School. Reasonable people can disagree about the organizing principle, however we believe that neighborhoods and communities are defined most directly by Elementary Schools – in terms of property value, identities, volunteerism, and childhood friendships. More importantly, we believe minimizing student disruptions is most important at these early learning stages. So we turn forward and look for solutions to “losses” we face.
1. We will solve the Middle School challenge working with Atlanta Public Schools and our communities; we will work collaboratively and creatively to do so.
2. Communities outside the map have assets with which to face the High School challenge – former Briarcliff High School, Avondale High School, Avondale Middle School, and Druid Hills Middle School are all facilities available and with capacity to create exciting, convenient learning environments in the neighborhoods they serve. There should be no doubt DCSD, working with those communities, could find a way forward as well.
Parents in the Atlanta map area should be aware that of the 1626 students the Superintendent’s presentation claims are displaced, using DCSD’s own numbers 1414 are students within the Fernbank and Briar Vista zone whose parents will be given the opportunity to vote by referendum. The Atlanta Public School system has a much more robust program for school choice, charters, a small school program, learning communities, and other programs that parents can consider and choose. It is regrettable that the Superintendent chose to consider students within the zone as ‘displaced’ as they are more properly going to be given greater choice. The Superintendent’s presentation appears overstated at every possible assertion.
Taxes APS millage including bonds is 21.74 mills; DCSD millage is 23.98 mills. The DCSD comparison does not focus on the bottom line differences to taxpayers and instead focuses on the HOST discount. The Druid Hills Civic Association has published tax information, confirmed with the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner, showing the difference in taxes between current DeKalb and Atlanta. While the Superintendent’s presentation claims increase of up to 60%, the actual tax figures for most taxpayers range from 8% lower in Atlanta to a maximum of 11% higher, with the majority of homes having little or no change. http://druidhills.org/2014/10/15/cityhood-annexation-options-and-their-effects-on-taxes-and-schools/. This analysis shows the cost differences to homeowners and factors in the proper charges and HOST credits. The Superintendent’s analysis is insufficient and does not present the whole story or relevant comparison. Citizens should dig deeper to determine what is in their best interest as taxpayers, parents and citizens. While the Superintendent wanders far afield by bringing police, fire, sanitation and water and sewer services into the discussion (incorrectly assuming continued fire and police service by DeKalb, when fire and police would be provided by Atlanta’s world-class fire and police
departments, with double the personnel at about the same cost to the taxpayer), it is ironic that he ignores the straight costs comparison of the two school systems. DeKalb offers homestead properties $12,500 exemption while APS offers a $30,000 exemption. Moreover, the presentation also took liberty with senior exemptions, comparing Atlanta and DeKalb without acknowledging DeKalb does not apply senior exemptions until age 70, while Atlanta applies exemptions at age 65, amounting to five additional years of payment before receiving any senior exemption. APS has a millage of 21.74 while DeKalb charges 23.98 mills. For most homeowners, Atlanta is a less expensive provider of education services than DeKalb. Moreover the Superintendent’s comparison is wrong or inaccurate when it comes to water and sewer, police and fire and the provision of other municipal services. The Superintendent brings the impact of HOST into the discussion perhaps to skirt the comparison of direct educational costs. HOST has never and will never be applied to school taxes. For countywide services the HOST discount will continue for any areas annexed into Atlanta. In fact, the likelihood that HOST will remain as it is currently configured is doubtful. That the DeKalb Superintendent chose to delve into areas of fire, police, garbage, water and sewer, which are outside the purview, authority, and expertise of the school system is unfortunate, particularly in light of the many pressing and germane issues facing the DeKalb school system. Issues of fire, police, garbage, and water and sewer are better addressed by the governments dedicated to serving those interests.
We believe those with an interest in preserving their elementary school attendance zones should get an opportunity to vote on that interest. We are excited about the success of Atlanta, its trajectory going forward, and its responsiveness in this process. There are questions to be answered and a thorough, transparent process between now and November 2015 (if a referendum is enabled) is essential to inform voters. Our pledge is to provide that access and information and we invite all who have an interest to join us in that work

COVE Report – December 2, 2014

Two Timely Meetings; One Important Topic

Atlanta Annexation of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill

Proposed Atlanta Annexation of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill

Proposed Atlanta Annexation of Victoria Estates and Mason Mill

Please join us for upcoming meetings to discuss the proposal to the City of Atlanta to annex unincorporated parts of DeKalb that include Victoria Estates and Mason Mill.

Mason Mill & Victoria Estates Neighborhood Meeting on Proposed Atlanta Annexation – December 7

Featured Speaker: Together in Atlanta Representatives
Date: Sunday, December 7
Time: 4:00 pm
Place: Intown Community Church
2059 Lavista Rd NE, Atlanta, GA 30329

Together In Atlanta is an effort by parents and residents from several neighborhoods near Emory University and within the Druid Hills High School attendance zone, seeking to achieve annexation into the City of Atlanta, with the public schools within the annexed area becoming part of Atlanta Public Schools. This is the group that presented the current request to the City of Atlanta.

This meeting is being held in conjunction with the Mason Mill Civic Association.

Victoria Estates Neighborhood Meeting on Proposed Atlanta Annexation – December 11

Featured Speaker: Alex Wan, Atlanta City Councilmember
Date: Thursday, December 11
Time: 6:30 pm
Place: Home of Barb Zehnbauer/Tim Buchman
961 Castle Falls Drive NE
Atlanta, GA 30329

Councilmember Alex Wan has served as a member of Atlanta City Council since 2010. He represents District 6, which includes Ansley Park, Atwood Park, Brookwood Hills, Druid Hills, Lindridge/Martin Manor, Midtown, Morningside, Piedmont Heights, Sherwood Forest, Virginia-Highland, Lindbergh/Morosgo. While Councilmember Wan did not draw the map that is currently under discussion, he is a good source for answering questions you may have about the annexation process and the City of Atlanta.

Public Legislative Meeting on LaVista Hills Boundaries – Tomorrow – December 3

DeKalb County Cityhood Subcommittee of Governmental Affairs

The DeKalb County Cityhood Subcommittee of Governmental Affairs is meeting on Wednesday, December 3, 2014 from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m. in the Coverdell Legislative Office Building. At this meeting the committee will hear testimony from representatives from the Tucker and LaVista Hills cityhood organizations. Following the testimony, the committee will take public comment. The panel’s sole charge will be to produce a boundary map no later than December 31 by majority vote of the panel.

WHAT: Public Meeting to hear from cityhood organizations
WHEN: Wednesday, December 3, 2014
1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
WHERE: Coverdell Legislative Office Building
Room 506
18 Capitol Square
Atlanta, Georgia 30334

House DeKalb County Cityhood Subcommittee of Governmental Affairs
Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), Chair
Rep. Barry Fleming (R-Harlem)
Rep. Mark Hamilton (R-Cumming)
Rep. Howard Mosby (D-Atlanta)
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (D-Decatur)

PARKING: Public parking is available at several nearby lots for $5-10.

Town Hall Meeting On Atlanta Annexation – December 8

Updated on 12/7

Municipal Choices Town Hall Meeting – 7:00 pm, Young Israel, 2056 LaVista Rd.

Sponsored by LaVista Park, Merry Hills, North Druid Hills, & North Amanda civic associations.

The municipal boundary choices overlapping our neighborhoods (alphabetically arranged):
Brookhaven annexation
City of Atlanta annexation
LaVista Hills new city
Unincorporated DeKalb County
The following panel has confirmed they will attend the meeting:

Rep. Howard Mosby, House District 83, Boundary Arbitration Committee
Mary Margaret Oliver, House District 82, Boundary Arbitration Committee
Lee May, DeKalb Interim CEO
Kathie Gannon, DeKalbDist. 6 Commissioner
Jeff Rader, DeKalb Dist 2 Commissioner
Joe Gebbia, Brookhaven Dist. 4 Councilman
Alex Wan, City Of Atlanta Dist. 6 Councilman
Mary Kay Woodworth, LaVista Hills
Allen Vennet, LaVista Hills
Matt Lewis, Together in Atlanta
Anne Wallace, Together in Atlanta

The meeting agenda:
Introductions (5 minutes)
Statements from the moderator, legislative delegation, and each municipalization choice group (25 minutes)
Moderated question-answer session (60 minutes)
Concluding remarks (10 minutes)
The questions to be discussed:
What is the process to select which proposals will be available to each neighborhood? Who will reconcile all of the overlapping municipal proposals and annexations? If we choose to remain unincorporated, what municipal choices will we have in the future?
How would each choice affect property and sales tax? Who will get the taxes? How viable are the choices?
What schools will our children attend with each choice? What will happen to DeKalb school property if I’m in a city?
What will happen to the Briarcliff/ North Druid Hills Tax Allocation District? Who will fund and perform transportation and other infrastructure improvements and long term maintenance?
Who will fund and provide police? Where will the precinct be located?
Who will fund improvements and maintain our Parks and Recreation services?
How will Zoning and Code Enforcement function?
Will other services be affected?
Additional questions from the audience will be screened for relevance and may be presented by the moderator.
Thank you for agreeing to attend. We look forward to a valuable, informative evening together.
Best regards,
Dan Wright

Atlanta council weighs in on annexation possibilities

Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed Support Annexation


By Katie Leslie – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed has made public his support for annexing Druid Hills and a portion of south Fulton, two areas on the edges of town that are now in heavy talks about their respective futures.
In recent weeks, he has made overtures to the Sandtown community in Fulton and welcomed a group of Druid Hills homeowners who are considering joining Atlanta. Reed recently said the neighborhoods are interested and he views that as “a favorable commentary on the state of the city.”

City council members are likely weighing political impact as they mull potential annexations that would expand Atlanta.
For Reed, the annexations could be the crown jewels of his two terms, an exclamation point on his leadership before yielding his office to Atlanta’s next mayor. After all, the potential annexations would be the city’s largest since the early 1950s, when Atlanta added Buckhead, Bolton, Adamsville, Lakewood Heights and others.
Atlanta’s expansion also could have a political impact, one city leaders are sure to consider when deciding whether to support the growth.
“You brought in a mayor with the last annexation,” said District 11 Councilwoman Keisha Lance Bottoms, who along with Reed was eligible to run for Atlanta office after their southwest neighborhood was annexed in the mid-2000s. “It remains to be seen, but I do know history repeats itself. (Our annexation) meant a tremendous amount to the city, not just the expansion of the boundaries but the people involved in the politics of the city.”
Bottoms has played a key role in talks with south Fulton residents, who are largely divided over the issue. Some have expressed support for forming a new city, while a handful of neighborhoods are pushing toward joining Atlanta. Reed sweetened the pot in recent weeks by suggesting the Sandtown community could receive a 10-year property tax freeze.
Bottoms said it’s too soon to know just how many residents could potentially become Atlantans.
Meanwhile, a group of residents in Druid Hills are lobbying to join Atlanta after the DeKalb County School district rejected a charter school “cluster” of Druid Hills High and other schools. The community recently submitted to state leaders a proposed map that joins their area with Atlanta and includes Emory University and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With the annexation would come as many as 26,000 voters, according to several people involved in the discussions.
Bottoms, a second-term councilwoman, said she’d support annexing both communities, which historically have high-voter participation rates.
The neighborhoods have dramatically different racial compositions. South Fulton would bring a majority black voting bloc, while Druid Hills is majority white. And that, says District 9 Councilwoman Felicia Moore, is the “underlying current” of annexation discussions.
“Of course, everything is about race in Atlanta,” she said, with a laugh. “… I’m sure there are people who want to make sure it keeps a balance so that, if we do bring in Druid Hills, there be a complement of black persons who are included in the city as well.”
Moore said her decision on whether to support annexations comes down to fiscal, and not political matters. She said she wants to see more details about whether Atlanta can afford the additional costs of expanding services.
“I always like to look at things from a fiscal standpoint,” she said. “I think there needs to be some discussion that, if we decide to annex either or both, that it makes good fiscal sense not just for them but for all citizens of Atlanta.”
District 5 Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong agreed that, when it comes to annexations, “the devil is in the details.” New residents must decide whether they want their children to attend Atlanta Public Schools and will be subject to new taxes.
“I do think Atlanta is a very attractive city so wanting to join makes a whole lot of sense,” she said. “We should be looking at the possibilities.”
District 2 Councilman Kwanza Hall, who along with Bottoms and Council President Ceasar Mitchell is considered a likely candidate for mayor, also said he’d support annexing both.
Hall, originally from southwest Atlanta, represents one of Atlanta’s most diverse districts, an area covering Old Fourth Ward and Inman Park. A portion of Druid Hills could be added to his district, as well as District 6 Councilman Alex Wan’s.
In Hall’s view, there’s little downside to adding Druid Hills, which he describes as affluent, educated group.
“As a councilmember for an area that is not majority African-American, and having run and been elected twice … it has been a positive thing in terms of not being judged based on my racial background,” said Hall, who is black. “It’s similar to a district and to the people that I already represent.”
Myriad hurdles remain before either group can move forward, city leaders urged. State leaders must settle on a proposed Druid Hills map and then authorize a referendum that could come as early as November 2015. The referendum would have to pass by a majority vote of residents inside the borders of the affected areas.
South Fulton residents are trying to join Atlanta in a different way, by winning support through the petition form of annexation. This method requires 60 percent approval from registered voters and land owners by mass. Those groups would then submit the petition to Atlanta leaders to decide whether to annex.
And both groups must also sort out whether their children will attend Atlanta Public Schools. The Atlanta council will ultimately be asked to sign-off on the new communities.
Wan, who has been in active talks with Druid Hills for well over a year, said it’s similar to the Virginia Highland and Morningside neighborhoods in his district. He sees adding the area as a boon to the city’s tax base and a way to bolster economies of scale.
He’s less focused on the political implications of annexing the area, he said.
“I’m not naive. I’m sure there are folks considering (the politics),” he said. “Politics will always be politics and enter the process, but there are folks who are way better at it than I. … I’m better focused on the merits of the proposition.”
Staff writers David Wickert and Kelly Yamanouchi contributed to this report.