Cityhood advocates in Toco Hills are nearly there in their quest to bring the proposed city of LaVista Hills to voters in November.
House Bill 520 passed the Georgia Senate on a 38-5 vote Wednesday, but because the Senate amended the bill, it now goes back to the House for reconsideration. Passage of the new version in the House would lead to a referendum among affected residents in November.
The House passed the original version March 11, 129-37.
The new version of H.B. 520 adjusts the proposed border with Tucker, which would face a similar cityhood referendum under the Senate-approved H.B. 515. Over the opposition of Tucker cityhood advocates and without action from LaVista Hills proponents, the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations Committee altered the border to move about 2,000 people in the Livsey area from Tucker to LaVista Hills.
“LaVista Hills YES did not request the map changes, but we respect the efforts by members of the General Assembly to make adjustments in response to their constituents,” LaVista Hills Yes said on its Facebook page March 20. The advocacy group, whose signs line LaVista Road in Toco Hills, urged the House to approve the amended legislation.
Tucker 2015 issued a statement expressing the hope that the House will stick to the original borders, although that stance could sink both cityhood bills with a week left in the legislative session.
“We are disappointed that the LaVista Hills leadership chose not to honor the boundary agreement,” Tucker 2015 said in a statement after the Senate committee approved the revised map March 19. “We are heartbroken that once again many of you find yourselves removed from the Tucker map as proposed by the SLOGO Committee.”
Heavily Orthodox Toco Hills was caught in its own border dispute at the start of the legislative session. Together in Atlanta, which sought to annex portions of western DeKalb County into the city of Atlanta, drew its proposed border along LaVista Road, splitting the community of about 3,000 people.
After a series of community meetings about cityhood options at Young Israel of Toco Hills in January, a survey by the Merry Hills Homeowners Association found 95 percent support for being part of LaVista Hills among those who favored incorporation of some kind. Three-quarters of respondents preferred becoming part of a city rather than remaining an unincorporated area of DeKalb.