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CrossRoadsNews

Community

May 25, 2013

“Whatever is going on, you don’t just change the lock. This is very shocking.”

Elected officials seek dialogue on cityhood movement 2346 Candler Rd. Decatur, GA 30032 404-284-1888 Fax: 404-284-5007 www.crossroadsnews.com editor@crossroadsnews.com

Editor / Publisher Jennifer Parker Graphic Design Curtis Parker Staff Writers Jennifer Ffrench Parker Jessica Smith Ken Watts Copy Editor Brenda Yarbrough Advertising Sales Kathy E. Warner Circulation Manager Jami Ffrench-Parker CrossRoadsNews is published every Saturday by CrossRoads­News, Inc. We welcome articles on neighborhood issues and news of local happenings. The opinions expressed by writers and contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher, nor those of any advertisers. The concept, design and content of CrossRoads­News are copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the written permission of the publisher.

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STONECREST,

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bills filed on the last day. Ramsey, who filed placeholder bill SB 278, said that as an elected official, his primary responsibility is to be responsive to his constituents’ requests and needs. “I received the request from Mr. Lary literally the last day of the session,” he said. “Consequently, there was little to no time to engage in any meaningful analysis of the issue.” Ramsey, who represents Senate District 43 that includes portions of DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties, said he was sure that if the request was not filed during the first session of the biennial, it would not be considered in the second session. “Due to the host of cityhood bills filed in DeKalb, we clearly have to engage in some meaningful conversations on a countywide basis,” Ramsey said. The placeholder bill allows the Stonecrest group to move ahead with its organizing efforts and raise $30,000 for the feasibility study required by the state. Lary said the group has raised about $5,000 so far and has until September to come up with the rest of the money. The alliance is represented by attorney Tom Kurrie of the Atlanta law firm Coleman, Talley LLP. “We have a very good complement of commercial, industrial and residential development in the Stonecrest area,” Lary said. “But what we see as a group is that our assets aren’t being used in a fashion where we can most gain from it.” The southside’s big advantage, says Lary, is that it has room to grow. “Briarcliff, Lakeside, Tucker, none of those areas have the land to build a convention center or an amphitheater. Only Stonecrest has that potential,” he said. Donald Bieler, who has lived

Stonecrest City Alliance President Jason Lary presented the Stonecrest proposal at state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver’s town hall meeting on cityhood, held May 6 at Clairmont Hills Baptist Church in Decatur.

Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews

and worked in Stonecrest for almost a decade, says the area has much promise but lacks the tax base to support a city. “It will never happen,” said Bieler, who is marketing manager of the Mall at Stonecrest but was speaking as a resident of the area. “There is not enough tax revenues, not enough rooftops, and too many homes underwater. There is just not enough to support a city.” Cityhood and annexation are incendiary topics in the south end of the county. District 5 Commissioner Lee May, who represents the area, and District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson are on record against the cityhood movement which they say has drained population and tax revenues from the county. But on Thursday May said it is appropriate to talk about incorporating unincorporated South DeKalb County but he said the area has to be bigger than just Stonecrest. “Looking at the more southern portions of the county, it should go from Memorial Drive and take in I-20, I-275 and I-675,” he said. “I think that would be the best approach.” With the formation of the cities of Dunwoody and Brookhaven,

the plans underway for a proposed city of Lakeside, and cities looking to annex more of the county, Lee said South DeKalb is being left in a vulnerable position. “We can no longer fight against it,” he said. “We have to put a plan on the table.” Johnson said the cityhood movement is a reality. “We can’t change that, so any option is viable as the county tries to stay fiscally sound,” he said. “What we don’t want is to be forced into a corner where we’re forced to cut services and raise taxes. We can’t afford either.” Lary says he has seen no hard data that convince him that cityhood is destroying the county. “If county government is shrinking, city or local government will have to grow accordingly,” he said. “I think ultimately it will balance out. The cityhood movement is not going away and neither will the county.” Lary has been taking notes on North DeKalb’s cityhood efforts, frequently showing up at informational meetings of the Lakeside City Alliance. He got a warm reception from an audience of 300 people when he spoke at Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver’s May 6 town hall discussion of the cityhood movement.

He told the crowd that his alliance has had great response from the neighborhoods it has canvassed. “There’s a lot of interest in what we’re doing,” Lary said. But Evelyn Cunningham, who lives off Browns Mill Road and attended the town hall session, worries about the political implications. “When they carve out all these cities and start redrawing districts, some neighborhoods may be left without representation,” she said. Oliver (D-Decatur) is concerned about the rush to cityhood but said lawmakers have to respond to the will of the people. “I am very, very nervous about the real economics of lots of new cities,” she said. State Rep. Pam Stephenson, who represents House District 90, filed a placeholder bill, HB 687, to create a City of DeKalb and HB 692 that would prohibit annexation within three miles of a municipality, both measures aimed at slowing down the rush to cityhood. She said that South DeKalb can’t stand by while people are putting cities all around it without taking a position on whether they are needed. “We need to stop until we do some strategic planning on what’s in the best interest of all of DeKalb,” Stephenson said. The Stonecrest Alliance holds informational meetings second Mondays monthly from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Stonecrest Library, 3123 Klondike Road in Lithonia. Ramsey says he plans to sponsor his own series of town hall meetings on cityhood this summer and fall. Lary said the focus should be on whatever is the most practical choice. “It’s a huge county, with 700,000 people and seven commissioners,” he said. “A smaller government covering a smaller community is a better option.”

Commissioners kept in the dark about lockout TAKEOVER,

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Dunovant said she had liquidated assets to come up with the funds and was ready to put it in the bank on May 23. “No one has ever wanted Sugar Creek until it got a new clubhouse,” Dunovant said. Attorney Pam Stephenson, who represents Sydmar Golf, said that Dunovant was not evicted because her possessions are still at the golf course. “They were locked out,” Stephenson said. “That is a violation of their operating agreement to manage, maintain and operate Sug-

ar Creek Golf and Tennis Club.” Stephenson said Thursday that she was trying to straighten it out. “Whatever is going on, you don’t just change the lock,” she said. “This is very shocking.” Calls to Cale were not returned at press time. Brennan said that CGL of Savannah is a partner with Sydmar Golf under Georgia Golf Partners LLC, which is contracted by the county to operate the center. “They were changing out a subcontractor,” Brennan said Thursday, “It was an organizational change.” Brennan said Sugar Creek opened for business Thursday.

DeKalb commissioners who approved the 2012 contract with Georgia Golf Partners said they were not notified of the takeover ahead of time. Commissioner Lee May said CGL would not have removed Sydmar without the blessings of someone from the county. “That’s not the correct way to do it,” said May, the BOC’s presiding officer who had the golf course in his district for six years through January. “You don’t just put them out without a conversation.” District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson, who now represents the area, learned about the situation

from Cross­Roads­News. “You are kidding,” he said when a reporter called him. Johnson said nobody notified him about what was going down. “I would have liked to have been kept abreast,” he said. Super District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson said that he heard about it from Dunovant, who told him she had until May 30 to come up with the money. Watson said he told Dunovant to take her proof to county contract compliance director Kevin Walton. “If it’s not May 30, she shouldn’t have been kicked out,” he said.

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Circulation Audited By

A1-365 Towing & Hauling...........................A10 AiJalon Inc. Adult Day Care...........................A6 Atlanta Gastroenterology..............................A7 Aviation Institute of Maintenance................A11 Avis Lithonia...............................................A10 BJH Attorneys & Counselors at Law............A10 Bryant Insurance Agency.............................A11 Centura College...........................................A11 DeKalb Convention & Visitor’s Bureau..........A2 DeKalb County Board of Health....................A7 Dr. Yvonne E. Beckford.................................A3 Flat Shoals Foot & Ankle Center...................A7 Foundation Property Mgmt Inc...................A11

Johnny Harris CPA.......................................A11 LawnMax, Inc...............................................A11 Legal Notices................................................A9 Macy’s......................................................... A12 MARTA..........................................................A2 Mini Mall......................................................A11 New Creations..............................................A11 Newburn Reynolds Photography.................A11 Quenon Smith............................................A10 Seafood On The Crest...................................A2 Snap Fitness..................................................A6 Soul Discount Fabrics...................................A11 The Benn Agency........................................A11

The Law Office of B.A. Thomas..................A10 The Samuel Group.......................................A11 The Spa at Stonecrest..................................A11 Wright Vision Care........................................A6 GRADUATION SECTION Akil & Malik Goodridge................................B8 Alante’ Carter................................................ B3 BaSix Knowledge Academy..........................B8 Briana Dew................................................... B3 Chick-fil-A /Turner Hill Road....................... B12 Committee to Elect Henry “Hank” Johnson.B11 Committee to Elect Lee May........................B11 Committee to Re-Elect Pam Stephenson......B4

DeAngelo Griffin..........................................B11 DeKalb County Office of CEO.......................B2 Friends of Stan Watson.................................B4 Kwame Bowens............................................B9 Nia Munroe................................................... B3 Rae Rae Clark..............................................B11 Savannah State University.............................B9 Taylor Alexis Brittain....................................B11 Tiara Booker.................................................B9 Best Buy Co. Inc......................................Inserts Holistic Health Management Inc.............Inserts Walgreens...............................................Inserts Walmart..................................................Inserts

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