Greenhaven cityhood proposal stalls

A proposal to create the city of Greenhaven, which would have included nearly 300,000 South DeKalb residents, isn't moving forward at the Georgia General Assembly.

A House of Representatives subcommittee tabled the Greenhaven legislation, House Bill 613, on Tuesday after hearing concerns about its size, borders and services.

“You all need to huddle up with people who live in this area and talk some more,” said Rep. Buzz Brockway, R-Lawrenceville, chairman of the State Government Administration Subcommittee.

Residents told lawmakers they worried about Greenhaven’s ability to improve quality of life without raising taxes, and members of the Clarkston City Council said Greenhaven included land that has been sought for annexation.

“What is it about Greenhaven that’s a selling point for incorporating 40 percent of DeKalb County?” asked Paul Munger, who lives near Clarkston and said he only recently heard about the cityhood proposal. “This can’t be something where we vote now and figure it out later.”

Supporters of Greenhaven said a city would give them the local control needed to recruit businesses and create jobs. They said lawmakers should allow residents the opportunity to vote on Greenhaven, which a feasibility study showed would be financially sound.

"There is a marked difference between North DeKalb and South DeKalb because South DeKalb is less developed," said Kathryn Rice, chairwoman of Concerned Citizens for Cityhood of South DeKalb. "Economic development — that is the primary reason we are forming Greenhaven."

Despite its population, Greenhaven would have run a small government providing three services: parks and recreation, planning and zoning, and code enforcement. Greenhaven would have continued to use DeKalb police.

Four members of the Clarkston City Council told state representatives they want to expand their city, and having Greenhaven as a neighbor would have prevented that effort.

“Think about the surrounding cities and make sure we’re not landlocked,” said Clarkston Councilwoman Beverly Burks. “We also want to continue that growth.”

Eight cities have been created in metro Atlanta over the last decade since Sandy Springs incorporated, but Rep. Hugh Floyd said Greenhaven wasn't ready.

“It’s a massive undertaking,” said Floyd, D-Norcross. “It needs to go back for a lot more study.”

A separate proposal to form the city of Stonecrest in southeast DeKalb is still advancing in the Georgia Legislature.

Stonecrest, which would cover about 50,000 residents along Interstate 20 near Stonecrest Mall, passed a key committee this month and could soon receive a vote by the full House.