Last year, Senate Bills 262 and 263 (SB262 and SB263) and House Bills 638 and 639, (HB 638 and HB 639) which sanction the Stockbridge land grab, were introduced in the respective sections of the Georgia Legislature. Both the Senate and House versions are virtually identical and propose the de-annexation of a large section of the City of Stockbridge and the subsequent incorporation of the City of Eagles Landing. The 3100 parcels removed from the Stockbridge city limits include most of the higher priced houses and prime commercial real estate.
The bills went nowhere last year, but passed in both chambers this year. They are have not yet been combined in single bills approved by both the House and Senate, so they may not make it to the governor’s desk. But there are no assurances. If they become law, in spite of the fact that the creation of a new city from land de-annexed from an existing city has never been done before, it would establish a precedent that puts virtually every city in Georgia at risk of being ripped apart. That thought motivated me to send the following e-mail to select members of the House Intragovernmental Coordination Committee and the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee. (Unfortunately, my message was largely ignored by most of the recipients.)
The only consideration that should be given to Senate Bills 262 and 263 and House Bills 638 and 639 is whether they should be disinfected before being placed in a trash receptacle. Both sets of bills reek of dirty politics and dirty money, and if passed, they would set a precedent that would threaten almost every city in the state.
Like many cities in Georgia, including Atlanta, Stockbridge has faced a number of challenges, negative publicity and disgruntled citizens. That doesn’t justify decimating the city, any more than it would justify ripping Atlanta apart. Yet I seriously doubt that the legislature would consider proposals to allow the de-annexation of properties representing half of Atlanta’s tax base to form a new city. Is the well-being of Stockbridge, or any other established and successful city to be disregarded because it doesn’t have the political clout of Atlanta?
SB 262/263 and HB 638/639 also incorporate a number of socio-economic components. Should these bills be approved by the legislature, the socio-economic components would serve as a solid basis for a legal challenge that has a high probability of being successful. Certainly, the folly of the proposed bills, and the potential negative publicity and expense they will create if passed, demands that they be placed in the above referenced trash receptacle.
According to Georgia law, the legislature has the authority to approve the formation and dissolution of cities. However, the legislature should not be in the business of dividing and conquering existing cities.