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Actual Factual Cobb: Atlanta invasion fear led to a 10-foot-wide city

Howdy! This is "Actual Factual Cobb," and thus is much better than the rest of the Internet. In this column series, I — Ben Brasch — will keep rootin' for answers and tootin' news about Cobb County from questions you ask until the esteemed AJC fires me upon realizing how much of the newsroom's coffee budget is expended on me.

Lee Decker opened a can of worms with this question: "Around the southern end of East Cobb, there are signs for Chattahoochee Plantation ... what exactly is this former municipality?"

Oh, Lee.

Chattahoochee Plantation gained notoriety for one reason: It kept blue Atlanta off Cobb County's red lawn.

The small municipality was incorporated in 1961 in hopes of building luxury housing developed around a golf club.

A mayor and five councilmen (once of whom flipped the land to 25 "sponsors" for double his money at $1,000 an acre) were named. 

Its 29-page charter called for an election to replace the men once the population reached 500 registered voters. They started with 200. (That's what would get it in trouble.)

Bu after seven years of growth centered around retirement-age folks, something drastic happened.

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"In 1968, the Cobb County Representatives in the Legislature sponsored a bill which passed, in a 'Stop Atlanta' move," the Chattahoochee Plantation Community Association's website reads. "This bill blocked the expansion of the City of Atlanta into Cobb County by adding to Chattahoochee Plantation, a ten-foot-wide strip along the Chattahoochee River for the entire length of Cobb County."

A map from the AJC's archives of Chattahoochee Plantation. (AJC archives)

Yep. The fine people of Cobb wanted so badly not to be part of the hub of the Civil Rights Movement that they made a slender firewall of a city that never set up a formal government. (See, that government thing again. Keep reading!)

"The purpose of the 'city' was to make sure that Atlanta didn't annex into Cobb County. One city's annexation couldn't jump over the boundaries of another city," explained Tom Scott, retired Kennesaw State University professor. "I don't know whether Atlanta had any serious thoughts of doing so."

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He remembers Representative Joe Mack Wilson helping to lead the charge.

"At the time Wilson and some other legislators were saying a lot of unkind things about liberal Atlanta, and I guess they didn't want to take a chance," Scott said. "In the colorful language that characterized him, Wilson suggested putting alligators in the Chattahoochee to keep Atlanta on its side of the river."

A 1969 article from The Atlanta Constitution summed up the "most forgotten town in Georgia" saying "most folks didn't even notice last year when the legislature passed a law and made theirs the longest town in Georgia."

It was 30 miles long and without a gas station at that time.

The city's mayor was Richard L. Simms Jr., an Atlanta advertising executive. One problem, he didn't move to the city he was the leader of. He decided to stay in Atlanta.

"He remembers the mayor and councilman arrangement as an informal sort of thing that never has been exercised," the story read.

When asked about general operations of the town: "I've lost track of it myself," Simms told the paper.

This is the guy who had the authority to levy a one-mill property tax, appoint police officers or "call every able-bodied citizen over 18 to form a militia to 'suppress riot or disorder.' "

Chattahoochee Plantation, existed "only to assure that Atlanta will never be able to annex any land across the river," according to a 1985 story in the Atlanta Constitution.

The city dissolved in 1995 because of a decision by the legislature that required three conditions to remain a city, ensuring that cities had to have active governments, according to the New Georgia Encyclopedia.

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I would say there's not much left of the city that wasn't much to begin with, but this all started because Lee Decker saw the sign and was good enough to write into this column.

The signs act as roadside gravemarkers that read:

FORMER

CITY LIMITS

CHATTAHOOCHEE PLANTATION

1961 - 1995

Heck, even when you search for the now-defunct city on Google Maps, it comes up.

The Chattahoochee Plantation Home Owners Association exists. Its website boasts that the association is 85 homes strong.

Oh, and then there's the Chattahoochee Plantation Women's Club, which has a closed Facebook group of 120 members

So even if the city isn't around, its name certainly is.

Cobb County made its point then and continues to do so today — you stay over there with your bustling metropolis and mass transit system and we'll play it nice and slow over here.

I, Ben Brasch, am a reporter with the AJC. To submit “Actual Factual Cobb” questions, contact me at ben.brasch@ajc.com or on Twitter at @ben_brasch, or via the form below.

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