Leaders of the city of Stockbridge are in a battle with some of their constituents over an effort to form a separate town by breaking away from a portion of the Henry County community.
Residents of Eagle’s Landing, comprising a number of largely wealthy neighborhoods in southern Stockbridge, are trying to break away and form a separate city. They say they want better control over their community so they can build parks and senior centers and provide enhanced police protection.
Stockbridge leaders, however, said the separation is racially motivated and that the boundaries of the proposed city of Eagle’s Landing will take a large portion of Stockbridge’s commercial tax base.
Here are 5 things you should know about the controversy:
Prayer vigil planned: Stockbridge leaders are planning a prayer vigil for 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19, at City Hall, 4640 North Henry Blvd.
Supporters of the vigil, which includes Stockbridge Mayor Anthony S. Ford and members of the Stockbridge City Council, said the gathering is to show a united front against the de-annexation plans.
"We need to come together to pray for all of our elected officials, our nation, our county, our citizens and the city of Stockbridge," the Rev. Terrance Gattis, the city’s chaplain, said in an announcement.
Legislative fight: Two bills that would respectively amend the charter of Stockbridge and create a charter for the city of Eagle’s Landing -- Senate Bill 262 and Senate Bill 263 -- passed the Georgia Senate this past week, largely on the support of Republicans.
Legislative supporters of the bills said people in the community should have the right to vote on their destiny. Opponents said they fear it could set off a domino effect where residents in an established city could seek to de-annex their neighorhoods or side of town if they don’t like the community they are in.
The bills still have to pass the Georgia House to be put on the ballot and the Senate could take up the measures again Tuesday.
Economic boost: In addition to creating libraries and public parks, Eagle’s Landing supporters said forming a new city would better their chances of attracting more high-end shops and restaurants.
The borders of the new city would capture a greater number of households with annual income of $100,000 or more, a requirement cityhood supporters said would be crucial in getting retailers to think of their community as quickly as they do Alpharetta or Marietta.
Attracting trendy restaurants, hotels and retail is an issue many south metro leaders have grappled with as most of the area’s higher-end businesses have located north of I-20.
Race relations: Backers of Eagle’s Landing cityhood have pushed back against accusations that their effort is motivated by race. They point out that Eagle’s Landing will be diverse: the population will be 47 percent black, 39 percent white, 8 percent Asian and 6 percent Hispanic.
The voting age population, however, would be a little more even, with 44 percent black voters and 43 percent white voters.
Henry cities unite behind Stockbridge: The city councils for the Henry County cities of Locust Grove and Hampton have both thrown their support behind Stockbridge’s efforts to stop the de-annexation.
The Henry Herald reported earlier this month that the Locust Grove City Council asked the Georgia Municipal Association to push legislation that would ban the creation of cities by using land already part of another city. Hampton’s city council approved a similar resolution in December, the paper said.
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