City creation process may change

Georgia lawmakers may change the rules for creating cities as new municipalities have popped up in the Atlanta area over the last decade.

A Senate study committee met for the first time Monday to discuss ways to avoid the border disputes and contentious political debates that have surrounded recent cityhood efforts.

Voters will decide whether to incorporate the cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker in November. Several other communities like Stonecrest, Greenhaven and Sharon Springs will ask the Georgia Legislature to consider their cityhood requests next year.

“Let’s have a process that’s a little more sane,” said Sen. Elena Parent, D-Atlanta, the chairwoman of the cityhood and annexation study committee. “My biggest interest is in hearing from those impacted, identifying holes and creating a framework.”

Senators heard several ideas and concerns about the process from city and county representatives.

Some said the impact of cities on their surrounding county governments should be considered. Others said municipal borders should be solidified in advance rather than negotiated at the end of the legislative session, which is what happened this year with LaVista Hills and Tucker.

One attorneys said the “cityhood-lite” concept, which limits the amount of services a city like Peachtree Corners can offer, may not even be allowed under the Georgia Constitution.

“You have a myriad of situations here,” said Sen. Fran Millar, R-Atlanta. “It’s not easy.”

The committee will meet at least two more times and then offer recommendations for reforming the state’s cityhood formation process next year. A state House of Representatives committee also is conducting a similar review.

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