The state House of Representatives has approved legislation allowing voters to decide whether to create a new city in north DeKalb County.
The house on Feb. 17 voted 101 – 57 to call for a vote to create a city called Ashford. The city had been known in previous versions of the legislation as Brookhaven. The legislation is now headed to the Senate for consideration.
Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, one of the sponsors of the proposal, called the vote “seismic.”
Rep. Mike Jacobs, R-DeKalb County, the other sponsor, called the House vote “a big step forward.”
“You are never guaranteed a majority in the General Assembly,” Jacobs said. “I am very pleased a strong majority of my colleagues saw fit to let this go forward and to let the people vote.”
Other members of the DeKalb County delegation to the Legislature opposed the proposal, saying Jacobs and Taylor had plotted an end-run around the local lawmakers by making the proposal a state-wide bill. They argued the proposal should have been “local legislation,” meaning it would require approval of the DeKalb lawmakers to win consideration before the whole Legislation.
“This is not your issue. This is my issue,” Rep. Howard Mosby, D-Atlanta, told lawmakers before the vote. “I’m asking you to allow us to control what’s going on in our community… Let us do our job.”
Jacobs later responded that he and Taylor followed the same legislative procedures that were used in the creation of the city of Dunwoody. He said the idea to create the city came from residents of the area.
“This truly was a grass-roots effort,” Jacobs told his fellow House members. “We had a group of about 30 citizens from this area that met just about every week.”
As outlined in the legislation, the new city would take in about 12 square miles bordered roughly by Chamblee, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Atlanta, portions of I-85 and Clairmont Road and DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. It would be the most populous city in DeKalb, with about 49,188 residents, and the 16th most populous city in the state, Jacobs said.
Jacobs said he expects the legislation to be modified in the state Senate to restore the name Brookhaven to the new city. “It seems odd not to call the community that is Brookhaven ‘Brookhaven,’” he said.