City of Briarcliff proposal

From Don Broussard (1), Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver (2), and Harvey Nation (3), republished from Civic Association Network with permission: Placeholder bill for study of a new "City of Briarcliff, Georgia."  

1. From: Don Broussard []
Sent: Tuesday, March 12, 2013 2:48 PM
Subject: Placeholder bill for study of a new "City of Briarcliff, Georgia"

Representative Oliver and Briarcliff / Lakeside Area Legislators,

Last week several citizens, including myself, had conversations with Senator Jason Carter about our desire for the study of a new city in his district and about our concerns over the proposed City of Lakeside as configured. Senator Carter stated that he was working with you on a bill that “you were taking the lead on” which would serve as a “placeholder” allowing a study and a referendum in some reasonable time frame. We request you to consider the attached map of a proposed City of Briarcliff, Georgia. This city map avoids the controversies and problems presented by the "City of Lakeside" and uses I-85, I-285, and existing cities to the south as consistent and rational boundaries.

The Briarcliff map was produced beginning in January by an informal committee of concerned citizens, the North Druid Hills Study Group, citizens who live in roughly a dozen neighborhoods — neighborhoods long active in the Civic Association Network (CAN). Several members of the committee have advanced degrees in city planning; two are former members of the DeKalb Planning Commission. This group whose counsel and input where sought concerning this map was bi-partisan. The City of Briarcliff’s boundaries are based upon real knowledge about patterns of commerce, housing, and neighborhood identity as well as the physical structure of the area. It recognizes high school boundaries but is not based exclusively upon them. It avoids creation of “islands” and encompasses only those commercial areas that are supported by those neighborhoods, or that lie within the described physical boundaries. No “cherry picking” of tax base or of neighborhoods has occurred in this map. The quality of our map speaks for itself.

Your newsletter of March 10 (excerpt below) stated that local legislation would be introduced to allow annexation into Chamblee of the Dresden area and that the impetus for this is, in part, a desire for protection from inclusion in a new City of Lakeside. But you do not specifically mention that a placeholder bill is being prepared that would allow evaluation of a new city in our area. This is a concern. It would be a political mistake to allow a placeholder bill enacting a City of Lakeside to be submitted solely by someone who does not represent any significant part of the area or your district. It would also be a mistake if a placeholder bill were to be drafted, essentially, by the DeKalb County Commissioners or DeKalb government staff. Your “constituents” in this matter are neither the CEO nor the County Commission nor their staff — the citizens are. DeKalb County government is broken — and no reform short of locally accountable cities will reform it. Sadly, we need protection from the county — not from cities.

Mary Margaret, you, as a member of the House Governmental Affairs Committee and as the dean of DeKalb’s General Assembly delegation, are the logical person to lead on a city hood bill. We know time is short. Please allow us to consult with you further this week as you and your colleagues draft this critical piece of legislation and allow us to review the bill prior to its submittal.


Don Broussard

C 404-580-1295


DeKalb Cityhood and Annexations – There are many ongoing discussions about possible new cities in DeKalb, and MMO is working with constituents in the Dresden neighborhoods on their wishes to me annexed into Chamblee. Local legislation will be introduced this week for the voters in this area to decide their fate. Part of the impetus of this annexation is the wish to be protected from inclusion in a possible new City of Lakeside. Talks will continue on all these boundary issues and self determination questions. On a procedural issue, any group seeking to create a new city must file a “placeholder” bill in 2013 in order to have an opportunity to pass legislation in 2014 to make a new city a reality by votes of the impacted citizens.

2. From: [state rep. Mary Margaret Oliver]
Subject: RE: Placeholder bill for study of a new "City of Briarcliff, Georgia"
Date: Thu, 14 Mar 2013 19:45:02 +0000


I appreciate your note about the map about a possible new city of Briarcliff. We need as many people as possible to join the conversation, and help make informed decisions about how they wish to be governed in DeKalb County. The process thus far, beginning with Dunwoody, and last year Brookhaven, has not been a good example of an inclusive process, and as you know, has been accomplished only by a Republican majority and leadership in the House taking the decisions away from the local DeKalb delegation. As we move forward in the ongoing discussions about Lakeside or Briarcliff, and other new possible new cities, I am hoping for a better, less partisan process, and most importantly, a process that is informative to all the voters.

As a practical matter, based on Rules of the House Government Affairs committee, a new city may not be created in less than two years, and legislation must be filed in the first year of a two year term in order to be considered in the second year for a vote. Based on this rule, I plan to file a "placeholder" bill before the end of this 2013 Session, and a legal ad will be published in the DeKalb Champion to give notice of this legislation. I am also filing a bill for Chamblee to consider by vote of two precincts whether voters wish to be annexed into the City Chamblee. I anticipate possible other bills relating to Tucker or other areas also being filed as placeholder bills, and I assume there will be a bill for what some are calling Lakeside. Jason Carter and I are working to together on a "package" of bills to create the greatest flexibility for citizens to engage in the debate and make decisions. I have no opinion today what the result of those discussions might be.

I am proceeding to introduce a placeholder bill for a new city at the request of constituents, but I am not leading the effort. It is my intent that neighbors and community leaders come together and negotiate their wishes and any possible boundaries with each other. With a broad discussion, not led or financed by one group, there can be a positive effort. Through such an effort to energize more discussions, we can examine whether money can be raised to conduct the necessary financial analysis that is required to understand what tax base could provide what services for any particular area. At a minimum, the initial costs of a basic financial analysis to create a new city is about $30,000.00. Realistically, there are other costs to evaluating a new city, and raising money will be one of the tasks of a group interested in creating a new city must accomplish.

Please continue to be a part of the conversation and encourage your neighbors also to participate. Thank you.

Mary Margaret

3. Dear Representative Oliver,  Thank you for your informative reply. I appreciate your fast response to my message regarding the "City of Briarcliff" message below. I can't imagine how you manage to do so much during the legislative session!

In keeping with your desire to include as many people in the process as possible I have included in this reply the CAN (Civic Assn Network) network email group. I am not certain how many folks this includes currently but it is a bunch from many neighborhoods in central Dekalb.

It is helpful to know the general process by which a city can be created so that those of us who are content to live in unincorporated Dekalb, as we have been for 34 years, can defend our neighborhoods from being incorporated during the "cityhood" frenzy.

Folks, Don't get me wrong, I like Decatur. I like Stone Mountain. I like Tucker (even though I never really knew it wasn't officially a city until recently). I like Emory/Toco Hills even better! I just don't see the need for another layer of local government. So I'll be glad to attend any meetings to which I am invited on the subject but my message will be "leave Mason Mill out of it." I'll put my time and energy into making Dekalb better for all.

StandUn Dekalb!

Harvey Nation, Past President 2005-2009
Mason Mill Civic Association