Stockbridge, church leaders hold secret meeting about Eagles Landing; Break Sunshine Law

Source: WGCL

City leaders in Stockbridge held a town hall meeting Monday night to answer questions about the impact on the city if the proposed city of Eagle's Landing becomes reality.

News media was originally invited to the public event at Eagle's Landing First Baptist Church in Stockbridge, but at the last minute, the pastor asked his private security detail to keep reporters and cameras out.

What the off-duty police did not know is that when the majority of a government's elected officials are addressing the public at an open event, keeping the media away is a violation of the Sunshine Law, and it could end with people going to jail.

CBS46 reporter Dante Renzulli tried to explain that to the deputies on scene, but they welcomed litigation, telling him, "We'll go down that road."

When questioned about the decision to block news media from the event, Stockbridge City Manager Randy Knighton said he was unaware that cameras were kept out, adding that the city has held town hall meetings at the same church in the past without any incidents.

It's unclear why the pastor did not want news reporters to attend the event.

In March, Georgia lawmakers approved a pair of bills aimed at allowing voters in the Henry County community known as Eagle's Landing to decide whether to incorporate as a city.

If Gov. Nathan Deal signs the bills and voters approve the proposal, parts of Stockbridge would be de-annexed, leaving the city of Stockbridge with all of its previous debt.

Governor Deal has until May 8 to sign the bill, veto it or do nothing and allow it to become law without his signature. If it does become law, people who live in what could be the new city will vote on it in November. Eagle's Landing moves one step closer to cityhood Eagle's Landing cityhood proponent: "Race has nothing to do with it." House passes bill that would split Stockbridge in twoThe area in question is made up largely of wealthy neighborhoods. People who live in the Eagle's Landing area say they want more control over how they're being represented. They say their area doesn't have a single public park or library. They also want better police protection and code enforcement.

Cityhood proponents also want more retail and restaurant options. They say encapsulating the wealthiest part of Henry County into an official city would attract retailers and restauranteurs to its high income demographic.

Opponents are furious about the splitting of Stockbridge. Some say they believe there's a racial component to the effort, claiming that the people of Eagle's Landing don't want to be associated with Stockbridge, which now has an all African-American city council.

Supporters of cityhood say race has nothing to do with their effort. They point out that Eagle's Landing would continue to be majority African-American.

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