Residents sound off during meeting to determine future of Stockb - CBS46 News

Residents sound off during meeting to determine future of Stockbridge

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Source: WGCL Source: WGCL

City leaders in Stockbridge met Thursday to discuss a controversial proposal aimed at cutting their city in half.

The bills would allow voters to decide whether residents in southern Stockbridge could split from the city and form a new city of Eagle's Landing.

The proposal has passed both chambers and is currently waiting for approval on Governor Nathan Deal's desk. It is unclear if Deal is expected to sign the legislation.

The proposed area is made up largely of wealthy neighborhoods. Residents there say they want to have more control about how they're being represented. They say they want to build parks and senior centers in their area and provide better police protection.

Forming new cities is nothing new in metro Atlanta. In the last couple of decades, we've seen the formation of cities like Sandy Springs, Dunwoody, Milton and Tucker. Those communities were all formed from unincorporated portions of their counties.

This legislation is different. It would allow for the creation of a new city by splitting up an existing city. It wold require legislative approval to get it on the ballot for the voters in that area to decide. 

Stockbridge Mayor Pro Tem LaKeisha Gantt told CBS46 News in February that allowing the move would be catastrophic.

"This would devastate our community and any city in the state of Georgia," Gantt said. "This is unprecedented, and at this time, we are fighting back by prayer, through prayer."

Camilla Moore, Director of Community Development says city leaders would have to create a city property tax and that would send property values plummeting. 

"This would be the first time in the history of Georgia that you allow a community to go into an existing city cherry pick property and take it away from that city," said Moore.

Stockbridge resident Bruce Smith Jr. says he believes the move is partially motivated by race. In January, Stockbridge made history when an all-black city council was sworn in.

"Now that the city's become a 100 percent minority government and things have turned around and the finances are stable, you have just a few people want to come with this land grab because they don't like what's going on," said Smith Jr. "It seems to be motivated by greed, money and race." 

Representative Demetrious Douglas hopes the governor will veto the legislation.

"I hope it gets to the governor and he decides it will affect his legacy on the state of Georgia," said Douglas. "The total citizens to be affected by the bill is the whole city of Stockbridge but the whole city of Stockbridge won't get a vote on their future and I think that's sad in today's society."

Tom Lentz lives in Stockbridge. He thinks Eagles Landing should have its own city because of the corrupt politics at city hall. He doesn’t believe Stockbridge will get any better.

“I've been unimpressed with Stockbridge leadership. There's a lot of politics going on," said Lentz. "Apparently that effort has been going on by mayoral candidates for some time and has not been successful because the council has been unethical, dishonest, I think."

Stockbridge is promising a lawsuit to try and stop the proposal. If the governor signs off on the proposal, it would be up for vote during the May primary elections.

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