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Brookhaven Cityhood Update

State Rep. Mike Jacobs will present a substitute amendment to restore the name Brookhaven name to the cityhood bill.

House Bill 636  the proposed city charter for the City of Brookhaven, passed the House Governmental Affairs Committee on Tuesday, February 7, by a vote of 9-5. It passed the full House of Representatives on Friday, February 17, by a vote of 101-57.

The bill is awaiting a hearing in the Senate State and Local Government Operations (SLOGO) Committee, which I anticipate will occur within the next week and a half.

Click here to view my presentation of HB 636 to the full House.

The House Governmental Affairs Committee passed an amendment to rename our community “Ashford.” This amendment was proposed at the behest of residents of one particular neighborhood. Needless to say, I do not support the amendment and will present a substitute version of HB 636 to the Senate SLOGO Committee that will restore the appropriate name of our community, Brookhaven.

In doing so, I will present historical evidence that the name Brookhaven has applied to a broad community – with its center of gravity in DeKalb County – for many decades. For example, here is a helpful article (click for link) noting that Murphey Candler Little League was first known as Brookhaven Little League when it started at Murphey Candler Park in 1958, complete with an opening day parade that began at Cherokee Plaza on Peachtree Road and ended at the park.

On a separate note, I recently met with a group of constituents from the Brookhaven Fields neighborhood who suggested that we change the structure of the Brookhaven city council to four single-district city council members, which yields a five-member city council when you count the at-large elected mayor.

They were concerned about the three at-large city council members that are provided in the version of HB 636 which passed the House of Representatives. As it stands now, there would be a seven-member city council comprised of three at-large council members who would be elected by the city as a whole but each reside in one of three districts, three district council members who would reside in each of the three districts and be elected only by the citizens who live in their particular district, and an at-large elected mayor.

I appreciated the meeting. The result of the meeting is that the substitute version of HB 636 that will be presented to the Senate will provide for a five-member city council comprised of four members elected from single-member districts and a mayor elected at large.

Click here to view the proposed four-district map. This map is intended to keep individual neighborhoods whole and avoid dividing them into more than one district. District 1 includes the Murphey Candler and Silver Lake neighborhoods. District 2 includes Ashford Park and Drew Valley. District 3 includes Historic Brookhaven, Brookhaven Heights, Brookhaven Fields, and Lenox Park. District 4 includes HillsDale, Pine Hills, and a portion of Buford Highway.

This new city council structure amplifies our individual voices and gives our neighborhoods real power over the future of our community. Each Brookhaven city council member would represent about 12,297 residents compared to the five DeKalb County commissioners who represent about 138,379 residents each, and the two super district commissioners who represent about 345,947 residents each. That’s 11 times and 28 times, respectively, as many residents as a Brookhaven city council member would represent.

On a final note, the proposed city limits had included Plaza Fiesta, the 57th Fighter Group Restaurant, and other commercial properties on the east side of Clairmont Road, across from Ashford Park and Drew Valley.

Representative Elena Parent, who represents that area, has proposed House Bill 1006 (click for information) to annex this and other territory down to I-85 into the City of Chamblee. Assuming that HB 1006 passes the General Assembly, the Brookhaven city limits will end at Clairmont Road. The city council map discussed above reflects this change.

State Rep. Mike Jacobs

Rick March 07, 2012 at 12:59 AM
Buckhead is already a town in Georgia, so that name would be ruled out.
Rick March 07, 2012 at 01:04 AM
'A generic city name will protect the Brookhaven "Niche".' I don't follow the logic. The name already identifies an area outside of Historic Brookhaven, no matter how much that may offend residents of HB.
Robert Young March 07, 2012 at 01:12 AM
I would recommend incorporating now to establish control over the land, and then have a vote on the name after.
Rick March 07, 2012 at 01:45 AM
The only reason I see for incorporating now is that it will be much more difficult in the future. Dekalb will try to lock this down shortly. There are plenty of reasons to not incorportate now. The he primary reason being one of due diligence. This needs to be done right, not quickly.
Thomas Porter March 07, 2012 at 02:19 AM
@Robert Young: If you are serious about that statement, then the same logic would seem to recommend incorporating now and figuring out the costs later... which is wacky. I agree with Rick - do it right and know the facts (beforehand).
HamBurger March 07, 2012 at 03:25 AM
Mr. Lowe, even though there was a City of North Atlanta, no one ever referred to the commercial and mercantile area on Peachtree Road located from Colonial Drive to the southern boundary of what is now called Brookhaven Park (the old VA Hospital) by that name. In the late 1800’s it was known as Goodwin Crossing. By the early 1900’s this fledgling mercantile area was known as Brookhaven. The City of North Atlanta was so ineffective that the name Brookhaven overshadowed it. Everyone said “I am going to the Brookhaven A&P” (close to the fire station) or “Can you drop me off at the Brookhaven hardware store?” (in a mercantile strip approximately where McDonalds is located) and occasionally you will hear “That damn Neal Boortz got his start in Atlanta talk radio in that old Brookhaven office park (at Peachtree and North Druid Hills) where the old WRNG 680 AM Ring Radio studio was located”. The old fire station was just north of the Waffle House on Peachtree Road. If you look to the left of the fire trucks you can see the elevated railroad bed. What, less than a half mile from the current fire station? I will give a hamburger with thin sliced pickles and onions and yellow mustard to anyone that can tell me what the CH stood for in the phone number listed on the face of the building. Hamburger anyone?
Carl Childers March 07, 2012 at 12:10 PM
Hi. If its better representation you are seeking, why not try another representative at the county level for our area first?
Carl Childers March 07, 2012 at 12:27 PM
Also I think Mike just dissed Murphey Candler with his attempt to "prove" that the area is Brookhaven. No way is Murphey Candler Brookhaven. It's always been Murphey Candler. The same as Historic Brookhaven has always been Brookhaven and the areas around it have always been the Brookhaven AREA. I live in Murphey Candler and if someone asked me what area do I live in I would say MURPHEY CANDLER. NOT BROOKHAVEN. Has it really become this far reaching to make the case for this stupid city? People in the Brookhaven AREA have benefitted from being close to Historic Brookhaven for many years and seen good property values, etc. probably should leave well enough alone before this does become the city of something else and your property values decline.
HamBurger March 07, 2012 at 02:10 PM
Mr Young, kind of like "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." Just substitute city for bill . . . Right?
Robert Young March 07, 2012 at 03:04 PM
Thomas Porter, A cost-benefit analysis has already been done, and came out to the positive. Do you fail to see the big picture? This area is more urban and upscale than Chamblee. Right now, this area is having tax dollars siphoned off to subsidize south DeKalb County. With lower-income Chamblee gobbling up vast swathes of land, the chance that they might just annex the whole area is a risk. Once they get Plaza Fiesta, the area is adjacent/contiguous. I don't know about you, but Brookhaven/North Atlanta/Ashford doesn't feel like "Chamblee" to me. Incorporating first and then putting the name to a vote seems like a good idea. You have to first establish legal control over the area. The window of opportunity to incorporate is there at the moment, but could soon close. What about the 27-story building just south of I-285? What if Dunwoody decides to cross the interstate?
Robert Young March 07, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Murphey Candler always felt like a "neighborhood" name, not a city. "North Atlanta", however, was a city from 1924 to 1965. "Brookhaven," meanwhile, has a "city" feel to it, with Peachtree Industrial Blvd running through the center and buildings as high as 18 stories.
Robert Young March 07, 2012 at 03:21 PM
HamBurger 9:10 am on Wednesday, March 7, 2012 Mr Young, kind of like "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." Just substitute city for bill . . . Right? To Hamburger: Your straw-man position is silly. Get real. A study has already been done showing the area is revenue-positive. The proposed area has been mapped and is geographically contiguous. This is not a matter of "not knowing what is in the bill." Being able to vote on a name sounds like a fair and equitable solution for all. Making the "name" the bigger issue misses the point. The point is that local government often manages better than bloated county government, but that county government is moving to block incorporation, so the window of opportunity is narrow to get this "city" re-formed. North Atlanta should never have de-incorporated in the first place.
Thomas Porter March 07, 2012 at 03:42 PM
@Robert Young - The cost-benefit analysis is grotesquely flawed and incomplete. I must not see the "big picture" because I fail to see the conspiracies that you see of the land-grabbing cities and therefore I will not react with knee-jerk paranoia. Yours seems like old-school nuclear weapon theory - get them before they get you. Silly.
Booyah March 07, 2012 at 03:53 PM
@Porter If in your opinion, the study by the University of Georgia is "grotesquely flawed and incomplete" who would you contract with to do a study?? Please be specific. We have all been waiting since last October for someone to offer a different study. No one has done it.
Bill Lowe March 07, 2012 at 04:54 PM
Hamburger, I will take you up on that burger offer. CH probably stood for the Chamblee telephone Exchange which is the oldest building on Chamblee Dunwoody Road near West Hospital.
HamBurger March 07, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Mr. Young, respectfully, you might want to do a little homework before you thump your chest about how good a new city will be for the North Atlanta area. The Vinson study takes a recent economic snapshot of the area and interpolates into a city with other mostly new city comparisons. The Vinson study does not take into consideration existing infrastructure and future maintenance and improvements that may be required. The Vinson study does not project out city costs for five, ten, twenty years or so to substantiate viability and taxpayer costs consistent with what is being sold by pro city individuals and organizations. There are other areas of concern with the study as well.
HamBurger March 07, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Additionally, the Vinson study contains this caveat: “Estimates given in this report are based on tax levies and service levels for a city not yet created; and, thus, they should not be viewed as certainties.” You may interpret my cautiousness as silly, but I find it disturbing many have bought the Vinson study on a wholesale basis without asking questions about items that should be included in a serious study being utilized to sell citizens on a new city. As for the City of North Atlanta being dissolved back in the early 1960’s, it was not doing what it was supposed to do so the citizens got rid of it. Your efforts are better served in changing your existing county government and troubled county school system. Again, the view of many shilling for a new city . . . "But we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." Just substitute city for bill . . . Right! Excuse me; I have to get that hamburger off the grill . . .
HamBurger March 07, 2012 at 05:58 PM
Mr. Lowe, it is with great sadness that I have to say no hamburger for you . . . The CH stood for Cherokee and the dial exchange was initiated in 1931 along with a new switching system being introduced by Southern Bell. Switching took place in a new building at the corner of Peachtree and Roswell Roads and the new office was called Cherokee. Prior to Cherokee the area was Hemlock HE, serviced by a switching office on Crescent Street in downtown Atlanta. The initial Chamblee switching office was constructed around 1949 and I believe it has been modified a time or two. Please pass that yellow mustard . . .
HamBurger March 07, 2012 at 06:07 PM
Resident 30319, I am sure the Vinson folks would have been glad to provide a more complete study, however a study giving greater detail was most likely out of the budget of those funding the study. This could be likened to paying a headhunter to find you a new corporate president for your company and electing not to perform a background check to be certain of what you are contracting with for the next five years. Excuse me, are those thin sliced onions Peruvian Sweets?
Joni March 07, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Mike, Are you sure that the Brookhaven Little League didn't just play at Murphey Candler Park? According to the MCLL site, they were formed in 1958. So that being said, in 1958 it may have been the only place for the Brookhaven kids to play and they may have shared the fields with MCLL. It is not uncommon for leagues to share fields at the same park.
Bill Lowe March 07, 2012 at 08:22 PM
It really does not take much to make any part of Atlanta into a part of Brookhaven. Logic would say that back in the 50's there weren't too many people living in this area, and not too many baseball fields. Closest proximity public field was up the road a ways. Admission by some of the Brookhaven Yes/C$ND board members that Real Estate agents have called Murphey Chandler "Suburban Brookhaven" for 10 years, I find unrealistic. There are a bunch of people out there that would believe it, especially if you came from Podunk Texas. It is also possible that the real estate agent drove them to see houses in a Chevrolet Suburban, took them to the Murphy Candler area and they got confused. Of course, there will be "documented" "proof" that the Northern area has always been known as Brookhaven---which is a crock. Brookhaven has always been centered around Peachtree and Dresden....has grown in size to believably touch Clairmont, back up to Buford Highway and reach Windsor Parkway. If the Brookhaven name is used for a city of 50,000 people, I think property taxes will drop because home values will drop. The Brookhaven brand will be diminished because of the crime that will come from the Buford Highway area, and the inclusion of the far Northern areas that Dunwoody did not want either. The new city should be called North Atlanta or.....Cross Keys. An even older historical name. Thanks to Kim Gokce for the history lesson.
Joni March 07, 2012 at 08:46 PM
Bill - I agree - I have lived in the Murphey Candler area (note the spelling - a small pet peeve of mine ;-) for over 25 years and I have always considered myself to live in Atlanta and Brookhaven to be the in the area you describe. Actually last year was the first time I heard us called "north" Brookhaven. When asked where I live, I say Murphey Candler Park, but I get an eye glaze look so I tell them I am at northern tip of I285 near Perimeter Mall which is a nem 85% of the people recognize. I too believe that Brookhaven will no longer be Brookhaven if the cityhood is voted in. My small company (5,000 plus employees) was bought by a world wide larger company (too many to count). While it is a wonderful company, it is like no longer even being face in the crowd. I am afraid that is what will happen with Brookhaven, it will be come a dot in the middle of a boundary box therefore losing it's true identity. On a side note Murphey Candler is a very safe park, not sure why some of the C4ND/Brookhaven/Yes people say becoming a city will make it a safer place. I'm there most days and it is always busy and full of folks enjoying their day and with softball & baseball starting, it will be humming with activity for several months. Football will be starting inlate summer and will be busy for most of the fall/winter.
Carl Childers March 07, 2012 at 08:50 PM
Using the logic that Brookhaven borders can move around and around, my vote is we name it the City of Uganda. Uganda had a hotdog stand back in the early 1300's right next to a babbling brook. One day, it began to rain very hard and therefor the hotdog stand became a safe haven. Thus, there was a haven, near a brook, so either we should rename Uganda or name this silly city - City of Uganda. THis is really how ridiculous this city hood has become. As more time goes by, it does become quite comical. I always have hope that those who lead me and represent me will be smarter than me. Still waiting.
Bill Lowe March 07, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Joni, now you are seeing the political aspects of this city being formed, pushed through, and the urge for whatever strange reason to use the Brookhaven name for such a large area as opposed to something that is more encompassing. It is a relatively small group that is really promoting this cityhood....and the majority of those promoters do not live in or really near Brookhaven. I will gladly admit I am not in Brookhaven or will be included in the city, but I do believe it is still in my interest to make people aware of what is going on, and to remind them to vote on July 31st. Failure to vote could very well allow a small group of supporters to make this happen for the wrong reasons and without fully vetting the idea of making a city. I want what is best for the area that is around me, and would feel really bad for those that get herded into this only to find it hurts them. Because of proximity, it will more than likely hurt me as well. What I fear most of all is that there is more to this than just creating a city for "better services, lower taxes." It may very well be a method of creating jobs from nothing, selling/leasing land(where no one currently wants it at a premium price), new contracts to supporters, and finally a way to increase property values based solely off of a name. This is just a theory, nothing more. Rational thought does not give me another explanation. BTW, I know how to spell Murphey Candler....I switch it around for fun.
Bill Lowe March 07, 2012 at 09:23 PM
What is ridiculous is that there are possibly enough sheep out there being herded by a few to actually make this thing happen. Those that want a city will not vote for it unless it has the Brookhaven name. This will most definitely fail in a public vote without the Brookhaven name. Sure, people cry--we want better this and lower that, and better representation, and our money to be spent in our area....Without that name Brookhaven in their address, they will vote against it. I guess you could call it snobbish, and I am NOT referring to the Historic Brookhaven people. Remember to vote on July 31st, and don't make up your mind with what is written on message boards.....Listen to your politicians in person....ask them questions in a public forum.....Look out for any side stepping or backpedaling. It's there.
Carl Childers March 07, 2012 at 09:36 PM
Chip, Dude. Underground city underneath Silver Lake? You must be mistaken. I read somewhere that the draining of Silver Lake was for the City of ??? and will be re-filled after it is lined with concrete or something else, before it becomes a City water reservoir. I'm not sure if this is true, but I think duck hunting was also mentioned. I'm really confused. From Wikipedia: Neighborhood: Murphey Candler Park Murphey Candler Park is also the name of the residential neighborhood surrounding the park. The homes were built beginning in 1954, and continuing until around 1970. Most of the homes are two-story traditionals or ranches built by Jim Cowart. The neighborhood is bounded by the Dunwoody city limits on the north, West Nancy Creek Drive on the south, Old Johnson Ferry Road on the west, and the city limits of Chamblee (at Chamblee-Dunwoody Road) on the east. The neighborhood includes two schools—Montgomery Elementary and West Nancy Creek Elementary School. The neighborhood feeds into the Chamblee High School cluster.
HamBurger March 08, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Questions have been asked regarding the completeness of the Vinson study, yet we receive no responses to our legitimate questions on the Brookhaven Patch. If our questioning about this study, which has been questioned several times at Brookhaven Patch, is out of line and incorrect, please point out our errors with a countering answer. Several questions have been asked in previous Patch comment areas, yet there continue to be no responses here or in any previous comment areas by Brookhaven Yes folks, Rep. Mike Jacobs, Mr. J. Max Davis or any other pro city advocates. Why?
HamBurger March 08, 2012 at 02:45 AM
Mr. Douglas, as previously stated, I am real excited about shooting them little white balls out of the sky at BOTH of them golf courses! As a future City Councilman you will push that through for me by hook or crook, right? As for duck hunting, duck hunting will be allowed on Silver Lake up to the point to where it is drained and then Murphey Candler will be the designated City of Ashford duck hunting lake, right? Look, if you need a ‘down low’ bribe, let me know . . . I understand about new city governments . . . PS: I have a buddy in the concrete business for your new Under Silver Lake City . . .
Thomas Porter March 08, 2012 at 02:51 PM
I already have two "NO CITY" signs in my yard, I think I would rather have three "NO CITY & NO MIKE JACOBS" signs.
Matt Foley March 11, 2012 at 04:19 AM
http://www.peopledirect.org/?p=834 - an open letter to Mike Jacobs and Fran Millar from a resident of "unincorporated Dekalb County" aka A-T-L-A-N-T-A Hey Mike and Fran - Can you demonstrate (with ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY, please) that your new city of Ass-ford or Brookhaven will be less costly to me and my neighbors and numerous others who oppose this farce!

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