Georgia Senate OKs Vinings cityhood vote

05/05/2021 — Vinings, Georgia —The exterior of the Old Vinings Inn located in Vinings, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

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05/05/2021 — Vinings, Georgia —The exterior of the Old Vinings Inn located in Vinings, Wednesday, May 5, 2021. (Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com)

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly reported the status of the Vinings cityhood bill. After passing the Senate without changes from the House version, it now moves to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk for his signature.

The Georgia Senate on Tuesday agreed to send another Cobb County cityhood effort to the ballot in May, this time for the proposed city of Vinings.

The Republican-controlled Senate approved the measure 33-19, making it the third such measure to be approved by both chambers of the General Assembly, all largely along party lines.

Democrats have opposed the three Republican-backed cities, saying they are being rushed to the ballot without properly considering what they would mean for residents and the county’s budget.

The Vinings effort awaits Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature before it can appear on the ballot for a public vote.

Vinings would be the smallest of the proposed cities in Cobb County, with a population of about 7,000 people.

Supporters offer two main reasons for wanting to incorporate: local control of land development and parks.

The community sprang up in the 1800s along a railroad that connected Atlanta to Chattanooga. The historic town square is centered at the intersection of Paces Ferry and Paces Mill roads.

Unlike the proposed, larger cities of Lost Mountain, East Cobb and Mableton, the financial impact to the county government would be minimal. County finance officials estimate a loss of about $2.3 million — or less than 1% of the county’s $478 million general operating budget. Notably, about $800,000 of that lost revenue would come from hotel-motel taxes, which today are used to pay off public bonds used to build Truist Park, the Cobb taxpayer-funded Atlanta Braves stadium.

The proposed city would have a curving, elongated shape. It follows the Chattahoochee River on its eastern border, but to the west, it weaves in and out, including some subdivisions and excluding others along its western border. It goes as far west as I-285, as far south as Cobb Parkway and as far north as the corner of Paces Mill Road and Cobb Parkway.

The city’s odd shape led to accusations from Democrats earlier this month that supporters had gerrymandered the city limits to exclude people of color. Vinings would be 68% white, according to a feasibility study by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, making it less racially diverse than the county as a whole, which is 51% white.

Jimmy Eastham, a member of Vinings cityhood campaign, however, insisted the lines weren’t drawn with race in mind; instead the city extends south in order to pick up undeveloped land that could be used for recreational greenspace.

Today, Vinings has just one small park. Cityhood backers say that with their own government, they’d be able to provide more parkland and prevent high density development from encroaching on their historic community.

Also on Tuesday, a bill authorizing a referendum to create the city of Lost Mountain received final passage in the House, 98-64. The final version makes the mayor a citywide elected position, with a separate six-member city council.

Proposed Vinings city limits