Fulton County and Atlanta lawmakers, worried about lost tax revenue or harboring ambitions to annex Sandy Springs, easily thwarted the movement. Defeat in the General Assembly became an annual ritual for Sandy Springs advocates.
The group’s persistence, along with a historic realignment of Georgia politics, ultimately cleared the way for Sandy Springs to incorporate.
In 2002, Republicans seized control of the governor’s office and the state Senate for the first time since Reconstruction. Two years later, they won control of the House. And in 2005 — more than three decades after the first stirrings of incorporation fever — the General Assembly permitted Sandy Springs residents to vote on the issue.
After 35 years of frustration, Sandy Springs residents voted overwhelmingly on June 21, 2005 to transform their unincorporated community into one of the largest cities in Georgia. For many backers of cityhood, the vote was very much about local control.
What followed was nearly as dramatic as the city’s incorporation. Though Sandy Springs created its own police and fire departments, it hired a private firm to provide most other services. That was a substantial break from the traditional model of city government, which employed battalions of public workers to deliver services.
The Sandy Springs incorporation and its business model soon inspired other metro Atlanta residents. Brookhaven, Chattahoochee Hills, Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Milton and Peachtree Corners have incorporated in recent years. Forming the cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker will be put to a vote in November.
Update: LaVista Hills was defeated by voters in 2016. Tucker was approved.
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Here is a list of recent new cities created in metro Atlanta, with their founding dates: