Buckhead residents organized earlier this year and announced they wish to secede from Atlanta, but members of a new group formed within the district this week and they say seceding is dangerous.
This, according to a press release that members of the group A Committee for a United Atlanta emailed to The Georgia Star News this week.
Attorney Linda Klein, who co-chairs the campaign, said seceding from Atlanta will not resolve Buckhead’s recent crime wave. She instead suggested that Buckhead voters elect better candidates to send to city hall.
“In response to frustrations over crime and other issues, state lawmakers submitted legislation last session that carve out affected parts of Buckhead from Atlanta and make it a separate city. A group in Buckhead, including legislators from North Fulton and Forsyth County, recently created a committee that is seeking cityhood,” according to the press release.
“However, the process to create a new city is lengthy and complicated. Once a cityhood bill is introduced in the legislature, a feasibility study needs to be done to determine if cityhood is viable. Then the House and Senate need to pass legislation for the governor to sign. If that is completed, a referendum is placed on the ballot, allowing only voters in the selected area of Buckhead to choose whether they would like their community to form a new city. The voters in other parts of Atlanta – including those parts of Buckhead the advocates choose to exclude – would not get to participate in the referendum.”
Former Republican State Rep. Edward Lindsey — who also co-chairs A Committee for a United Atlanta — said unanswered questions remain.
“How much debt will Buckhead residents assume? What are the public pension and bond obligations for Buckhead? How much will water bills increase? What will happen to our public schools? How much division and social unrest will result from separating our city and dividing our communities?” Lindsey asked in the press release.
“Even attempting to divide Atlanta will damage our business reputation and cause long-term economic damage and a diminished tax base.”
Members of the Buckhead Exploratory Committee (BEOC), however, said they want to leave.
BEOC spokesman Sam Lenaeus toldThe Star Newslast month that “even after paying a lot in taxes, we were still expected to solve our own problems and pour more private money into them.”
Businesses and families, they went on to say, are leaving.
“We learned that there are a lot of people wondering why we have not done this sooner. The stories we hear from some of our neighbors are terrifying: emergency services that don’t show up, elderly couples that are too afraid to go to the store, moms that are afraid to go to a gas station with their children in the car for fear of car-jacking, permits that take longer than six months to rebuild houses damaged by weather, and the list goes on. We heard from one couple that went to a park and came back to find out that both vehicles parked in separate areas of the park were stolen at the same time. The latest are carjackings on children’s carpool lines,” Lenaeus said at the time.
“We also heard from many parents who were very unhappy with the leadership at the Atlanta Public Schools. We are hearing about serious mental health issues and a complete lack of support for children with special needs during the pandemic, all caused by APS leadership. We know the city can do better for our children and the hundreds of working parents out there.”
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