Backers of a city of Brookhaven are recruiting additional volunteers to work on plans for starting up the new city, should it be approved by the voters on July 31.
J. Max Davis, president of Brookhaven Yes, an organization that promotes creation of the new city, said the group plans a public meeting in June to discuss how the city would operate. No date has been set, he said.
Six committees have been looking into operation of the city since earlier this year, he said. The committees are researching police, public works, zoning and planning, parks and recreation, administration and finance, and marketing and branding, according to Brookhaven Yes. Davis said the new call for volunteers is intended to supplement and expand the work done so far.
“It’s a group of citizens getting together to say, ‘If we’re going to have a city, what’s it going to look like?’” Davis said.
Brookhaven voters will decide July 31 whether to create the new city. Georgia legislators earlier this year approved a city charter and called for the vote on whether it should come into existence.
Brookhaven Yes board member Linley Jones said the planning committees were intended to get the broader community involved in the planning process leading to the new city. She said holding the discussions prior to the vote on creating the city would allow residents to have a say in how the city operates.
“The idea is to get the community involved at this early state in creating the government they want to have,” she said. “I think it’s wise to get started with the process now, not only to get the ball rolling in terms of the city planning, but it also allows people [a chance to have] input about operations of the city before they have to vote on it.”
If approved by the voters, the new city of Brookhaven would take in about 12 square miles between Chamblee, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, Atlanta and segments of I-85 and Clairmont Road. The new city would include about 49,000 residents and would be the most populous city in DeKalb County.
A study by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia, released last year, found that operating a city in the area would be financially feasible.
Recently, however, critics of the proposed city of Brookhaven say a similar study produced by the institute on the financial feasibility of the new city of Peachtree Corners was misleading.
The report said Peachtree Corners, which would offer limited government services, could expect to spend about $760,000 a year. However, city officials recently set a much higher budget of $2.9 million, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A spokeswoman for the institute, Courtney Yarbrough, said, “There’s no comparison between the budget an elected body votes upon and estimates from the study. Our feasibility study is simply an estimate of available revenues.”
Davis said the Peachtree Corners situation did not apply to Brookhaven because that city originally planned to offer few services and its budget was so small. Brookhaven better compares to Dunwoody, he said, where the original city budget was similar to the amounts estimated in the institute’s feasibility study for that city.
“I would look toward the studies done for cities similar to what we’re doing,” he said.
Davis said that in planning a city for Brookhaven, residents had the benefit of seeing how other new cities, such as Dunwoody and Sandy Springs, had organized their governments.
“We’re fortunate. We have these other cities to rely on,” he said.
About 100 residents volunteered to take part in the planning process when it was announced at Brookhaven Yes’ first public meeting earlier this year, Davis said. He said the group decided to send out a new call for volunteers as the election neared. “Interest picks up the closer you get to [deciding on creating] a city,” he said.
Davis said the group would happily include in the planning process residents who had not made up their minds about whether to vote for the new city on July 31.
“The more brains you have, the better,” he said. “We’re not going to bar you if you’re leaning ‘no.’ If you think it’s something that’s going to pass and you want to have some input … absolutely you should volunteer and address your concerns.”
Joe Earle contributed to this story.