Let South DeKalb vote on cityhood

What do the residents in the proposed Greenhaven want for Christmas? We want the right to vote.

We want the state Legislature to grant us what it granted every other proposed city that fulfilled its requirements. We want the right to vote.

We want the same self-determination everyone else has requested and been given. We want the right to vote.

Why do we harp on this refrain?

Because we, the Concerned Citizens for Cityhood of South DeKalb Inc., recently listened to a state elected official publicly state that the proposed Greenhaven would not be considered for cityhood in the 2016 legislative session. We at Concerned Citizens challenge whether there are any reasons for us to not be considered. The Legislature put forth requirements for proposed cities, so everyone would know what needed to be done to receive approval for a public referendum.

Additionally, Concerned Citizens studied and reviewed recent cityhood proposals (since Sandy Springs) so we could understand and follow the process used by other cities allowed a vote. We now ask, “If we meet those requirements and follow the proper process, are there any legitimate reasons that should stop residents of the proposed Greenhaven from having a right to a vote?”

How Greenhaven decides to form is what self-determination is all about. We decided we want a government that will promote economic development, encourage citizen participation and be fiscally conservative. We considered different options and chose a structure that allowed us to keep taxes low, put us at the table for big projects, and enabled us to be fiscally responsible as a result of economies of scale — larger quantities get lower prices. We want self-determination, the opportunity to realize our choices.

The role of the state Legislature is to conduct due diligence on the viability of a proposed city before turning the proposal over to the people in a referendum. Concerned Citizens has met all the requirements. We formed an organization to take responsibility for the formation of Greenhaven, conducted a feasibility study with the University of Georgia that estimated $27 million in revenues, developed a charter by which Greenhaven would govern itself, found a legislator who sponsored the bill and, finally, advertised the bill and process to the public.

As expressed by one supporter of cityhood in South DeKalb, “Whether they like the idea of the city or not, if these requirements have been met, then the Legislature should pass the bill and offer the people a public referendum for them to decide whether they want to form a city.

LaVista Hills and Tucker, two areas that recently voted on cityhood, are excellent examples of what we’re talking about. LaVista Hills and Tucker are geographically side by side. They engaged in the same discussions and the same issues during the same time period. On Nov. 3, one approved cityhood by a large margin; the other voted against cityhood by a whisper of a margin.

LaVista Hills and Tucker represent democracy and self-determination in action. The residents of the proposed Greenhaven want to exercise their own democracy and self-determination. We do not want our lawmakers to tell us we cannot vote.

We are not asking for any special favors or waivers. We have an economic development vision and a plan of action. We are excited about our future and opportunity to realize our dreams in ways the current county business model has not produced. To our state representatives and senators, we say, “Do unto us as you have done unto others.” To the residents of the proposed Greenhaven, we say, “Get informed. Then get involved. Take control of your destiny. Realize your dreams. As spiritual people, there is nothing we can’t do!”

Contact us at GreenhavenGA@gmail.com if you have any questions.

Kathryn Rice chairs Concerned Citizens for Cityhood of South DeKalb Inc.