Proposal to create DeKalb city of Vista Grove has new life at Capitol

The controversial proposal to create another city in northern DeKalb County has new backers at the state Capitol.

Sen. Elena Parent, Sen. Sally Harrell and Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver said they drafted the new Senate Bill 507 in order to “generate active discussion and input” regarding the proposed city of Vista Grove.

The bill was introduced Thursday.

“While recognizing both the pros and cons of municipalization, we also recognize certain developments making it necessary to move forward with serious discussions about how to represent the residents of the unincorporated area in north DeKalb County,” the lawmakers said in a joint news release.

A map of the city’s proposed boundaries was not immediately available, but the legislators said the borders differed slightly from previous Vista Grove proposals.

Those proposals carved out a swath of unincorporated DeKalb County south of Brookhaven and north of Tucker.

In a Thursday afternoon Facebook post, the cityhood advocacy group known as Vista Grove Initiative thanked Parent and her colleagues for bringing the new bill forward.

“Over the months leading up to a potential referendum vote in November 2020, VGI will work to educate citizens within the map on the benefits of incorporation,” the group wrote.

The proposal, though, is sure to be contentious. A new study from the University of Georgia's Carl Vinson Institute found that new cities like Vista Grove could cost DeKalb County millions of dollars in tax revenue.

The bill will be considered local legislation, Parent said, and thus is not beholden to Thursday’s “crossover day” deadline at the Capitol.

The legislature did, however, announce it would be suspending its session indefinitely after Friday due to coronavirus concerns.