Where could a proposed city of East Cobb be located? The head of the group proposing the creation of Cobb’s seventh city has released a map showing the proposed boundaries of the hypothetical city.
According to a map provided to the MDJ by Joe Gavalis, president of the Committee for Cityhood in East Cobb Inc., the city would be bounded to the east by the county border. Among the corridors that would be included in the proposed city would be Shallowford Road east of Wesley Chapel Road, Roswell Road east of Sewell Mill Road, Lower Roswell Road east of South Marietta Parkway and most of Terrell Mill Road east of Interstate 75.
Mabry Road and Johnson Ferry Road until they hit the county line would also be a part of the city.
Within the city would be Walton and Wheeler high schools, but the boundaries as drawn would not include Lassiter, Pope or Sprayberry.
Gavalis’ committee has commissioned a $36,000 study from Georgia State University to examine the feasibility of the proposal.
The boundaries as proposed would put the potential city entirely within Commissioner Bob Ott’s District 2. But Ott previously told the MDJ he plans to stay on the sidelines until he gets to review the study, saying Wednesday that he is maintaining that course.
Some of the biggest constituent complaints Ott had said he hears are unhappiness with the overall appearance of the roads and medians compared to Sandy Springs and a shortage of police officers.
Flatly opposing east Cobb cityhood is County Chairman Mike Boyce, who says that metro Atlanta residents wouldn’t find a government that provides the level of services Cobb provides at the millage rate levied. Sandy Springs, he says, has a higher millage rate than the county, with Cobb’s tax rate adopted by commissioners over the summer by a 3-2 vote with Commissioners Ott and JoAnn Birrell opposed.
“Two of the concerns of people that were reflected by Commissioner Ott (were) that they don’t believe there is sufficient public safety and concerns about the right-of-way,” Boyce said Wednesday in response to the MDJ’s initial coverage of the released map. “Your paper this morning noted that my budget included additional funding for public safety, but it also reflected my work with Commissioner Ott to add $1.8 million to address the right-of-way issues. I think … their concerns (were) my concerns, which is why I included (them) in the budget and then fought so hard to have that budget passed.”
The $1.8 million earmarked for county right-of-way, Boyce said, led to the hire of 20 new county staff to address Cobb’s medians and other areas along its roads.
“Our effort to contract this service out to a private service, to privatize this effort, did not work,” he said.
Another concern Ott said he has heard from east Cobbers about is “the amount of taxes paid by the district (40 percent of the county's total property tax collections) and the level of service they feel they receive. Many feel they pay more than they get back.”
Boyce has answered that by pointing to the money the county has spent on building SunTrust Park in Ott’s district.
“First of all, Commissioner Ott’s district was the beneficiary of a $350 million contribution by the county to enhance the business in his district. I think every district commissioner would love to have $350 million to help them with their business,” Boyce said.
Though opposed to the new city, Boyce says he agrees with Gavalis’ stance of seeing the results of the group’s study and having “an educated discussion about the pros and cons” of creating the new city.
“We haven’t had a new city in Cobb, I’m told, in over 100 years,” Boyce said. “I think that reflects the confidence the municipalities and people have in the ability of Cobb County to deliver the services at the best possible price.”
Indeed, Cobb has not seen a new city established and remain intact since the end of the 19th century, with Kennesaw the last of the six existing cities to incorporate back in 1887. All six current cities, however, saw activity well before the Civil War, with half of them incorporating or adopting their current names before the war broke out.