Stockbridge to Eagles Landing: Leave Our Borders Alone

A slide showing the proposed city of Eagles Landing map. Dark red areas are currently in Stockbridge city limits.

The Georgia Legislature will not resume until January, but Stockbridge is fighting now against two state Senate bills affecting its borders.

City Director of Planning and Community Development Camilla Moore is encouraging residents to contact legislators on both sides of the aisle to oppose Senate Bills 262 and 263.

The bills, introduced in the 2017 session by District 17 State Sen. Rick Jeffares, R-McDonough, can be revived next year.

If enacted, SB 262 will change the Stockbridge map by adding and subtracting properties, while SB 263 will grant a charter to the city of Eagles Landing upon voter approval.

“Both bills need to die,” Moore said at a recent community meeting held by City Councilman Elton Alexander.

The reasons, she said, include an unprecedented plan to combine 3,136 deannexed parcels from Stockbridge with 3,072 unincorporated parcels to form the new city.

“Of all the cities that have been incorporated, not a single one went into an existing city to take its existing properties,” she told attendees at Eagles Landing First Baptist Church, which Alexander said is in the heart of the disputed territory.

Moore and Alexander also encouraged listeners to protest deannexation by signing petitions available at the meeting, on the Stockbridge website or by mail.

The city is not entirely against Henry County’s fifth city, Moore said, just not at the expense of 50 percent of its land.

“Stockbridge has no problems with Eagles Landing becoming a city,” she said. “Find another way to do it and your sister city, Stockbridge, will support you.”

If not, a higher authority – the U.S. Department of Justice, which determines if changes in voting will discriminate against voters – may find the new city “a serious challenge,” Moore said.

“What the city of Eagles Landing is proposing to do is to take away your right to vote for the individuals that you voted for,” she said about city council members. “What incorporation will do is that we will see disenfranchisement for 50 percent of you living in Stockbridge.”

Alexander said landowners may also face the prospect of paying city taxes for the first time.

“You got your tax assessment already this year,” he said. “Imagine putting another tax on top of that.”

But Vikki Consiglio, Eagles Landing Educational Research Committee chair, disputed the notion after the Neighbor contacted her for comment.

“Since the city of Eagles Landing has yet to be incorporated, how would anyone know if there would be a tax instituted?” she said. “The feasibility study has yet to be released and that within itself will show the feasibility of the city and if there will be any additional tax needed.”

Consiglio also pushed back against the disenfranchisement argument.

“The citizens of the proposed city map area will determine if they want a city of Eagles Landing,” she said. “Why would or should this be anyone else? Who would those citizens be disenfranchising?”

Committee educational forum organizer Suesan Townsend questioned Moore’s and Alexander’s participation, citing legal barriers to government employees or elected officials influencing elections.

“Does the city of Stockbridge have some special exemption to federal and state law?” she said.

Information: Eagles Landing, http://bit.ly/2sSqeKQ; Stockbridge, http://bit.ly/2rXIdeZ

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