Update: LaVista Hills Bill Passes House

Update: LaVista Hills Bill Passes House

Updated 7:15 p.m. March 11

The House easily passed House Bill 520 today on a vote of 129-37, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

Complicating matters is that Rep. Pat Gardner, D-Atlanta, introduced H.B. 586 on Tuesday; it would annex portions of DeKalb County, including part of Toco Hills, into the city of Atlanta.

Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Dunwoody, the sponsor of H.B. 520, introduced it on the House floor Wednesday morning.

“I’ve been down this path. It’s kind of like ‘Groundhog Day,’ ” Taylor said, citing the examples in the past 10 years of Sandy Springs, Johns Creek, Milton, Dunwoody and Brookhaven.

He said the population of LaVista Hills would be about 68,000, higher than previously cited estimates.

Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, spoke against the legislation, decrying the refusal to follow a consistent process and claiming that the failure to resolve the border conflicts before moving forward with the cityhood bill was depriving her constituents of the right to decide whether to be annexed into Atlanta, join in the formation of LaVista Hills or stay unincorporated.

“I am fairly confident, maybe 51 percent confident, that this will be resolved before midnight April 2, but I am concerned about constituents who are correctly saying that you have two competing desires and no way to resolve them,” Oliver said.

Original story below

By David R. Cohen / david@atljewishtimes.com

This map shows the proposed DeKalb cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker.

A bill to incorporate Toco Hills into the proposed city of LaVista Hills is approaching a deadline without the support of the state representative for the heavily Jewish neighborhood.

House Bill 520 must win House passage and be sent to the state Senate by March 13, or it will be dead until 2016. The bill was introduced March 2 and cleared the House Governmental Affairs Committee two days later.

But state Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, D-Decatur, whose 82nd District includes Toco Hills, objected to the bill, citing its conflicting borders with Together in Atlanta’s proposal to annex part of Toco Hills and other areas of DeKalb County into the city of Atlanta.

“Moving this fast with the conflicting borders generates more confusion,” Oliver said. “When our process is flawed, it doesn’t add to public trust.”

While the cityhood proposal must clear the House by March 13, an annexation bill does not have to meet that crossover date. Such legislation is expected but had not been introduced when the Governmental Affairs Committee acted on the LaVista Hills bill.

Still, Oliver said the committee action violated rules the committee adopted at the beginning of the legislative session. Those rules halt cityhood and annexation proposals that involve border disputes.

“I formally objected to LaVista Hills being eligible for a vote based on the committee rules, and the chair overruled my objection,” Oliver said. “LaVista Hills has every opportunity to attempt a resolution with the Atlanta annexation proponents and refuses to do so.”

Toco Hills is caught in the middle of the conflicting cityhood proposals, but LaVista Hills has gained neighborhood support since community meetings in January. The LaVista Hills plan would pull all of the neighborhood’s nearly 3,000 people into a city of 65,000 residents; the most recent Atlanta annexation map would split Toco Hills along LaVista Road.

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