Buckhead cityhood idea resurfaces through new organization

Buckhead's shopping options, including Phipps Plaza, attract many people to the area. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

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Buckhead's shopping options, including Phipps Plaza, attract many people to the area. (Hyosub Shin / Hyosub.Shin@ajc.com)

A newly formed organization is looking into the possibility that Buckhead could break off from Atlanta and become its own city, an idea that has come up over the years but is opposed by several business groups and public officials.

The Buckhead Exploratory Committee aims to raise money “to explore viable routes for the preservation of Buckhead community’s safety and return on our investment by way of taxes,” its website states. That includes considering whether Buckhead could become “an independent city in Fulton County.”

The nonprofit study group is planning to hold a town hall meeting Wednesday evening.

The concept of cityhood for Atlanta’s wealthiest community has been brought up in the past, though critics have said the idea would leave Atlanta in an impossible financial position by removing a large chunk of the city’s tax base. The proposal gained more steam in 2020, after more residents in Buckhead grew frustrated about rising crime and nuisance issues like late-night street racing.

ExploreIn Buckhead, familiar debates arise over crime and influence

Some influential business groups in Buckhead oppose the cityhood idea. The Buckhead Coalition said in a statement Tuesday that pursuing cityhood would be unnecessarily divisive and not feasible.

“While we understand the frustrations that have led others to begin exploring that possibility, we believe that the best path forward for both Buckhead and Atlanta is to address our very real challenges cooperatively. We will continue to dedicate our efforts and our resources every day to doing so,” the statement said. The president of the Buckhead Coalition, Jim Durrett, also leads the Buckhead Community Improvement District. Both groups partner with Livable Buckhead and the Buckhead Business Association, two other local civic organizations.

Sam Lenaeus, president of the The Buckhead Exploratory Committee, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that dissatisfaction over public safety and infrastructure issues spurred the formation of the group in the fall. He said the committee is a grassroots group made up of over 200 residents.

Buckhead gets a “minimal return on our taxes on the way of city services,” Lenaeus said in a statement. “Right now all options are on the table.”