The mayor of Stockbridge said the de-annexation to the city would be a $5-million blow to the city’s finances, which would be devastating.

Stockbridge leaders considering filing lawsuit in Eagle’s Landing fight

Stockbridge leaders say they are considering filing a lawsuit to stop a vote to create the city of Eagle’s Landing if the legislation gets Gov. Nathan Deal’s blessing.

The state Senate last week passed a bill incorporating a city of Eagle’s Landing, despite opposition from Stockbridge leaders who decry that the new city will be formed by de-annexing parts of their Henry County town.

The incorporation bill and companion legislation that would allow Eagle’s Landing — the majority of which is in the 27,000-resident city of Stockbridge — to annex other parts of Stockbridge in its quest to form the new city now go to Deal for his signature.

If signed, residents in the area of Stockbridge and unincorporated Henry County that would become Eagle’s Landing could cast ballots on cityhood as early as November.

“We are exploring all of our options,” including a lawsuit, Stockbridge spokeswoman Shana Thompson said Monday. “It is our hope that the governor will veto this because it is unfair to the citizens of Stockbridge.”

Stockbridge residents attend February candlelight prayer vigil opposing creation of city of Eagle’s Landing. LEON STAFFORD/AJC
Photo: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Stockbridge and residents of the well-heeled neighborhoods that make up Eagle’s Landing — including one of Henry’s largest golf communities — have been locked in a battle over cityhood since legislation was first introduced in the Legislature in 2017. The fight intensified in the last six months as Eagle’s Landing proponents built support through various community meetings while Stockbridge leaders battled back through press conferences, a candlelight vigil and support from dozens of cities around the metro area and state.

Eagle’s Landing supporters argue Stockbridge has neglected to provide services such as parks, roads and senior facilities. Charting their own destiny would allow residents to attract retail and restaurants beyond strip malls and chain restaurants.

Stockbridge leaders, however, said the changes will rob the city of taxes collected from lucrative shopping centers and other businesses and force them to consider new taxes to make ends meet. They also said the move to de-annex a city to provide land for another city is unprecedented because cities traditionally have been formed by cobbling together unincorporated communities.

At a press conference in late March, Stockbridge Mayor Anthony Ford said he already had reached out to a couple of law firms should the legislation pass the Senate.

“I’ve got a haymaker ready to go,” Ford said, asking residents who turned for the meeting to keep the faith. “[I’ve got] Two different law firms ready to be energized and move forward to stop this in its tracks and let the law figure it out. So I still got you folks. Don’t worry about it.”

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