Georgia Republican senator files bill starting fight for creation of Buckhead City

Citing a need to get control of crime in Buckhead, an Alpharetta Republican state senator filed legislation Thursday that would let the Atlanta neighborhood’s residents decide whether they want to secede from the city and form their own.

“Over the past few weeks, we have heard testimony from Buckhead residents who feel their needs are not currently being addressed and what the proposed incorporation would entail,” said state Sen. Brandon Beach, who filled Senate Bill 324 on Thursday.

“I believe it is now the time for citizens in the Buckhead neighborhood of Atlanta to have the ability to determine for themselves whether to form their own city and establish services which would be more responsive to their needs,” he said.

Beach and 12 of his Republican colleagues — none of whom represent Atlanta — are trying to bypass the traditional legislative process for cityhood, which generally requires support from local representatives.

If SB 324 passes, Buckhead residents will decide in a ballot question next November whether the community should become its own city. If residents vote in favor of leaving Atlanta, the legislation will set up the city’s structure.

Buckhead City government would be comprised of a mayor and six council members, have its own police and fire stations, establish a municipal court that enforces city ordinances and other city operations.

The first municipal election would take place June 20, 2023, and the city operations would begin June 30, 2023.

Supporters of the measure say creation of the city is needed to combat a surge in violent crime in Buckhead and that Atlanta’s mayor and police force have not done enough to combat it.

Opponents say stripping Atlanta of the tax revenue generated by businesses and homeowners in Buckhead — a wealthy part of town — would cripple the city’s budget and services. They say residents should instead work with local elected officials to address their concerns.

Edward Lindsey, co-chairman of the Committee for a United Atlanta — a group that opposes the creation of Buckhead City — said members of the organization will work with whoever wins the mayoral runoff election next week to “make Buckhead and all of Atlanta safer and more prosperous.”

“The Committee for a United Atlanta is focused on encouraging Buckhead residents to get out and vote in the upcoming mayoral runoff and to insist that the candidates seeking our support commit to effectively combating crime and instituting needed reforms to improve the lives of all Atlanta residents,” Lindsey said.

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