New south Fulton bill pushes cityhood vote to November

Legislators this week introduced a new version of a bill that would allow south Fulton voters to form a new city.

House Bill 165 calls for a referendum on forming the City of South Fulton next November. If voters in unincorporated Fulton decide to form the city, they'd elect a mayor and city council during the 2016 presidential primary.

A previous version of the bill – filed before the current legislative session – called for a vote on cityhood in March.

Under HB 165, the new city would include all remaining unincorporated areas of Fulton County as they exist 90 days prior to the election – a move that will give existing cities time to annex some areas, if they choose. Currently, the unincorporated area covers about 105 square miles bounded roughly by Atlanta to the north, Chattahoochee Hills to the south, College Park to the east and Douglas County to the west. More than 90,000 people live in the area.

The bill is sponsored by Rep. Roger Bruce, D-Atlanta, among others. Supporters say forming a new city would give residents control over zoning and other local matters. But an overwhelming majority of voters rejected a similar bid to form a city in 2007.

Currently, Fulton County provides police, fire and other services to the unincorporated area. Last week Fulton County Commission Chairman John Eaves said he supports giving residents a chance to vote again. But he said the county provides good services to unincorporated residents.