Another effort to create a city out of East Cobb is being revived by the state lawmaker who introduced a bill in 2019.
But a group called the Committee for East Cobb Cityhood is proposing what it calls a “city lite” set of services.
State Rep. Matt Dollar will be proposing legislation to create a city of East Cobb not only with different services, but some new boundaries.
That bill has not yet been introduced, but Cindy Cooperman, a volunteer for the cityhood committee, told East Cobb News that Dollar will be doing so before the Georgia legislative session ends next week.
In the previous legislation in 2019, the proposed services were police, fire and community development.
For this legislation, the proposed services are zoning, code enforcement and parks and recreation.
Cooperman said the group includes some of the same individuals as the previous cityhood effort, including David Birdwell, Joe Gavalis, Owen Brown and Jerry Quan. Newcomers include former Cobb Board of Education member Scott Sweeney and Mitch Rhoden, CEO of Futren Hospitality, a real estate developer that oversees Indian Hills Country Club.
The group has a new website and will be conducting a new feasibility study, which is required for cityhood legislation.
The previous map included most of Cobb Commission District 2 in unincorporated areas of East Cobb, and was being expanded to include more than 100,000 people.
The proposed new map would include areas south of Shallowford Road and east of Old Canton Road and encompasses a population of 55,000.
The new bill, map and services reflect public feedback during the 2019 cityhood effort, which included several town halls and a debate, she said.
“East Cobb is a thriving suburban area. It is at risk of over-development as we have seen in neighboring communities,” states a message on the cityhood group’s homepage. “We want to preserve all the great parts of East Cobb and grow the community engagement and people, not grow the tax base.”
The touted benefits of cityhood are community control over land-use planning, preventing forced annexation and increasing home values.
East Cobb cityhood, the committee said in a release, “has the benefit of addressing residents’ primary concerns to preserve the positive attributes of East Cobb while protecting it from over-development, encroachment from urban sprawl, and the containment of unmanageable increases in traffic congestion. East Cobb residents are largely satisfied with Cobb County’s other core services.”
More FAQs on the new website can be found here.
The renewed East Cobb effort comes on the heels of legislation proposed to form a city of Lost Mountain in West Cobb, also with “city lite” services focused around land use and development.
But Cooperman said the West Cobb movement wasn’t what prompted another attempt to incorporate East Cobb. There’s “a lot of the same rationale” as the 2019 effort, but said the reconstituted cityhood committee will be seeking more public feedback and engagement.
“East Cobb residents can expect to be engaged in the process. Their feedback from 2019 is incorporated into the refreshed plans,” Sweeney was quoted as saying in the release. “We are committed to community engagement and transparency in the process to explore the merits and feasibility of forming a city.”
The initial cityhood leaders did not divulge the names of some of those involved and didn’t face the public before Dollar’s bill had been filed. They raised money to hire legislative lobbyists, but never revealed the funding sources.
After holding two contentious town hall meetings in the spring and fall of 2019 and a debate with a group in opposition, the cityhood group announced at the end of that year it would not pursue legislation.
Cityhood bills in Georgia must be introduced in the first year of a two-year legislative cycle before being considered in the second. The bills call for referendum to be voted on by voters within a proposed city boundary.
That legislation also needs a Senate sponsor. In 2019, State Sen. Kay Kirkpatrick said she received plenty of negative feedback from citizens about cityhood, and other state and county elected officials also expressed opposition.
Cooperman said the engagement process this time around will involve contacting homeowners associations and other community groups.
“There’s going to be community engagement every step of the way,” she said.
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