Stockbridge blasts Eagle’s Landing cityhood in opponents’ territory

The vote for Eagle’s Landing cityhood is less than two months away, and Stockbridge leaders on Wednesday tried to persuade members of the Henry community to oppose secession at a town hall meeting

Camilla Moore, Stockbridge’s assistant city manager, told an audience of about 125 people at Eagle’s Landing Country Club that the numbers for a new city of Eagle’s Landing don’t add up and that cityhood backers were being disingenuous when they say the town won’t have municipal taxes.

“Every bill has included within its body a millage rate, and that includes the 10 new cities that incorporated in 2005,” she said. “All the municipal charters have a municipal tax.”

Both sides have increased the number of public meetings in the last couple of months to try to get their voters to support them on election day Nov. 6. Cityhood supporters are seeking to de-annex about half of Stockbridge — which is home to Eagle's Landing — and use that territory to create the new city.

Kathryn Gilbert, a former Stockbridge city councilwoman who supports Eagle’s Landing cityhood, pushed back on Moore’s comments, saying the opposition has put out a lot of misinformation.

“It take a lot more than the skeletal kinds of things being discussed” to know what’s going on, she said after Wednesday’s meeting “It’s hard for a lot of lay people to understand.”

Eagle's Landing supporters said cityhood is necessary to keep tax dollars in their own neighborhoods, add services such as parks and libraries, and to boost police, sanitation and code enforcement services. Opponents argue taking land from an already established city to create another is unprecedented and that many of the goals Eagle's Landing cityhood backers want could be achieved by working together.

The debate is taking place against a backdrop of lawsuits that could pull the referendum from the ballot.

A hearing on a late August lawsuit to stop the vote brought by Capital One Public Funding — the municipal bonding arm of banking giant Capital One — is scheduled for Monday in U.S. District Court for Northern Georgia. Capital One says the referendum is unconstitutional because it fails to provide a mechanism for Eagle's Landing to pay its share of about $11.75 million in municipal bonds Stockbridge owes if it takes half of Stockbridge's territory.

Stockbridge leaders also are expected to have a hearing Monday on their federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in the cityhood voting, saying it would violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause.

Separately, the Georgia Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments Oct. 9 in Stockbridge's appeal of a lawsuit it filed earlier this year calling the Georgia legislative bills that cleared the way for Eagle's Landing cityhood unconstitutional.