Stockbridge fears Eagle’s Landing cityhood could lower property values

If Eagle’s Landing becomes a city, it may be harder for Stockbridge to secure funding for capital projects, such as parks and roads.

And it’s possible that property values in the diminished Henry County town could fall.

That's the assessment Stockbridge leaders relayed to residents Tuesday in an informational town hall meeting on the city's future should Eagle's Landing become Henry's fifth town. The Stockbridge leaders said national bond ratings agencies have warned that the plan to create the new city by taking about half of Stockbridge's territory could make future borrowing more difficult and expensive.

“It’s an indirect impact on property values because no one wants to live in a community where streets have potholes and you don’t have curbs,” assistant city manager Camilla Moore said. “And potholes and gutters or other infrastructure improvements are capital projects that cities provide through bonding.”

The gathering — one of many scheduled by both opponents and proponents of Eagle’s Landing’s attempt to break away from Stockbridge — was aimed at educating residents about the Nov. 6 referendum.

Some who live in Eagle's Landing want to secede from Stockbridge because they say the city has failed to provide services such as parks and seniors facilities, as well as road and infrastructure improvements. Residents of the tony south Stockbridge community also contend they can do a better job of attracting jobs, chef-driven restaurants and high-end hotels if given control of their destiny.

“We have to bring in more economic development with corporations with high paying jobs,” said Vikki Consiglio, a leading proponent of cityhood. “We have to give citizens an opportunity to keep their money in their county.”

Stockbridge leaders argue that it’s better to go after economic development as a united city. They said Tuesday that drawing an imaginary line around streets on a map will not redefine the community and make it more desirable to developers.

They also said that they plan to file a federal lawsuit under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution in the coming weeks. Already a lawsuit has been filed against the Henry County Commission and Board of Elections in an attempt to keep the cityhood question off the November ballot.

If Eagle’s Landing does become a municipality, Stockbridge City Attorney Michael Williams said it could start out in debt. Stockbridge owes about $13 million in urban and development bonds and $1.5 million in water and sewer bonds, a portion of which Williams thinks a judge could rule Eagle’s Landing should repay since the new city would be a partial beneficiary.

“I think its possible,” he said. “It’s a judicial determination based on the fact that the debt was legitimately issued. The General Assembly removed part of the tax base which encumbered the debt.”