3 community meetings fail to bring clarity on incorporation

By David Cohen | david@atljewishtimes.com

Proposed LaVista Hills Map – Photo credit: LaVista Hills Yes

The Jewish community in Toco Hills remains split on multiple annexation proposals after hearing three presentations at Young Israel on the possibilities, according to the area’s state representative.

“I’ve heard a lot of different voices from Merry Hills and the Beth Jacob community,” said Democratic Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, whose District 82 includes Toco Hills. “There’s not one voice. There’s a variety of voices that come to me with different views. There are folks that have been involved in the issue for the past three years, but now a lot of people are coming to the debate newly. They’re just realizing that there’s a lot of movement and activity on this issue.”

Although 277 Jewish Toco Hills residents have signed a petition for the community to be included in the proposed city of LaVista Hills, discussed at a meeting Jan. 11, the community of nearly 3,000 has several other options on the table:

  • Being annexed into the city of Atlanta with other unincorporated areas of DeKalb County, presented at a meeting Jan. 7. The initial proposal from the group Together in Atlanta would run the new city border down LaVista Road, slicing Toco Hills in two.
  • Being annexed into the still-new city of Brookhaven. Toco Hills neighborhood groups invited Brookhaven officials to make a presentation about that option, but they declined. This option would require support from 60 percent of residents, and with no push from Brookhaven for this expansion, Toco Hills leaders say this choice is highly unlikely.
  • Remaining unincorporated, an option discussed Jan. 15 at Young Israel. Because Toco Hills is surrounded by the proposed maps for the Atlanta annexation area and LaVista Hills, it will be difficult for the community to remain unincorporated unless those two proposals are stopped. Georgia law prohibits the creation of an unincorporated island through annexation.

With a decision on cityhood affecting government services, zoning laws and school systems, the community held a survey this week to vote on its options, including backing legislation to create the city of LaVista Hills. Any cityhood proposal would have to pass the Georgia General Assembly. Legislative success would lead to a referendum as early as May or June, with an approved new city starting as early as 2016.

“Some people in the Beth Jacob community want LaVista Hills; some people want nothing,” Oliver said. “The neighborhood has a very unique dynamic, and it’s very popular for lots of reasons. One of the reasons that it’s so popular is for the Orthodox community.”

Let your state legislators know how you feel about cityhood:
• Rep. Mary Margret Oliver, 404-377.0485, mmo@mmolaw.com.
• Rep. Howard Mosby, 404-656-0287, howard.mosby@house.ga.gov.
• Sen. Elena Parent, 404-490-3762, info@elenaparent.com.