Gold Dome at night main photo

The Georgia State Capitol at night.

The city of Stockbridge has been fighting most of 2017 and into 2018 against legislation potentially creating a new city of Eagles Landing, if voters approve.

The existing city deems it a land grab and a blow to its coffers; new municipality supporters point to a more upscale environment with smaller government.

Stockbridge commissioned a report on the topic; the Eagles Landing Educational Research Committee, a feasibility study.

City leaders have called town halls and posted statements about proposed House bills 638 and 639 and Senate bills 262 and 263, introduced in 2017 by members of the Henry County delegation to the Georgia General Assembly.

At a press conference at Stockbridge City Hall Feb. 5, Mayor Anthony S. Ford called the proposed deannexation “illegal and unprecedented” and warned other mayors their cities may be next.

City Councilwoman LaKeisha Gantt quoted Eagles Landing supporters as saying, “Let the people vote on it,” but said the pending cityhood bills “do not advocate that all of the existing voters of the city of Stockbridge receive the opportunity to cast their votes.”

Afterward, the Eagles Landing committee responded to the Neighbor’s request for comment with the following:

“There is a process in place for the establishment of new cities in the state of Georgia. The organizers of the city of Eagle’s Landing are following that process.”

According to a Questions and Answers page on the committee website, “citizens in the proposed city of Eagles Landing map area may get to vote at the first election date after the bill passes and is signed by the governor. We are hoping for a referendum in May 2018. Who gets to vote? All of the registered voters within the proposed city of Eagles Landing map area.”

District 10 State Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Ellenwood, is a sponsor of SB 285, which Stockbridge supports for its prohibition of new cities made from existing ones.

All five bills are in their respective hoppers at the Gold Dome; none has come to the floor yet for a vote, according to Legislature records.

Jones said at the press conference there will be movement soon at the Senate committee level.

“Senate Bill 262 and 263 are scheduled for a vote – not a hearing, but a vote – this Thursday,” he said.

The bills are in the Senate State and Local Governmental Operations committee, whose secretary is District 17 State Sen. Brian Strickland, R-McDonough, one of the bills’ sponsors when he was a House representative.

Committee members include District 55 State Sen. Gloria Butler, D-Stone Mountain, who also co-sponsored SB 285.

Jones said he will encourage the new committee chair, District 13 State Sen. Greg Kirk, R-Americus, to delay the vote and provide for a public hearing this year, as there was one in August.

“I understand there’s pending legislation that’s moving through the House as well,” Jones said.

HB 638 and 639 are in the House intragovernmental coordination and governmental affairs committees, respectively.

District 78 State Rep. Demetrius Douglas, D-Stockbridge, an intragovernmental coordination committee member, said they have not yet met regarding HB 638.

Update: Senate Bills 262 and 263 moved out of committee Feb. 13, received readings in the state Senate Feb. 14 and passed Feb. 15. The votes were 30-25 for SB 262 and 29-23 SB 263.

Information: Eagles Landing, http://bit.ly/2savE5d; Stockbridge, http://bit.ly/2GSyrmY

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