Below is an article from our partner DeKalb Strong about Sine Die, the last day of the Georgia Legislation, which was Friday June 26, 2020. Both Greenhaven and Vista Grove didn’t make it through this year AND Vernon Jones is no longer a DeKalb County House Representative. It should be noted he was the one that sponsored Vista Grove this year.
June 28, 2020
Vista Grove is Dead. What’s Next?
Friends of DeKalb Strong,
Back in March, we posted an open letter to Senators Sally Harrell and Elena Parent, urging them to withdraw their bill, SB-507, which would form the city of Vista Grove. We were then, and continue to be, opposed to forming this new city.
Friday June 26 was Sine Die, the last day for the Georgia State Assembly to pass legislation. While the senators did not withdraw the bill, with the closing of the 2020 session SB-507 died a quiet death along with it. It got no traction and for good reasons.
The bill was posed as a kickstart for discussion about how to address the problems of annexations by existing cities in DeKalb County. However, the proposal was not a ‘discussion’ but a proposed ‘solution’, crafted in secret behind closed doors, without robust discourse in the public forum. This was no way to try to build consensus in the community around a clearly fractious issue that affects so many.
So… good riddance SB-507 and Vista Grove.
With that said, what does the future hold? There is no prohibition against the proponents of Vista Grove coming back for the 2021 session to try it again – and again – and again until they wear their neighbors down, and wear their state house reps and senators down. Until they get their way. That’s because the process is flawed.
We believe there is work to be done to change the process so that a tiny group of cityhood zealots can’t game the system and force their will on the larger community. It begins with raising the bar on what the minimum standards are for annexations and for creating a new city in DeKalb County The rules must be more rigorous in ensuring that an overwhelming proportion of the residents really want this change – a critical mass of residents, not just 50% + 1.
Piecemeal approaches to annexation and new cities have caused our current problems, and we cannot solve these problems with more of the same. A comprehensive county-wide discussion of annexation and municipalization solutions is necessary. No other bills regarding annexation or incorporation should be introduced unless they address the entirety of DeKalb County. We at DeKalb Strong would, of course, welcome being part of the discussion and part of the solution.
That’s what we believe is in the best interest of our little corner of DeKalb County between Toco Hill and Northlake, and for the County as a whole. And that’s what we will work for going forward.
We are stronger together.
The Board of DeKalb Strong
Mary Lindsey Lewis
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