Editor’s Note: This past February, a bill authorizing a local referendum on whether the area of East Cobb (HB 841),could incorporate as a city was approved by the Georgia General Assembly. The legislative bill is available for viewing on the Georgia General Assembly legislation website. The East Cobb bill contained a provision that would put the appropriate version of the question “Shall the Act incorporating the City of East Cobb in Cobb County according to the charter contained in the Act be approved?” on the May 24 General Primary ballot. Registration deadline to vote in the primary is April 25. A non-partisan information webpage, “Cityhood Resource Center” on each of the Cityhood proposals (East Cobb is one of four communities in Cobb County trying to establish itself as a city) including maps, has been set up by Cobb County Government. For more information, visit www.cobbcounty.org/communications/info-center/cityhood). To help East Cobb County citizens make an educated vote, the EAST COBBER invited the East Cobb Cityhood group and the East Cobb Alliance to present their opposing stances on East Cobb becoming a city.
VOTE YES FOR EAST COBB CITYHOOD!
By Cindy Cooperman, East Cobb Cityhood Committee
The time has come to ask yourself this question. HB 841 is a bill to allow the residents in the proposed City of East Cobb to vote in a referendum to decide whether we should incorporate. Since 2018, a group of concerned East Cobb residents has been exploring this question to provide you with the information and framework needed to determine the best path forward. As part of this exploration, the group has commissioned two feasibility studies with Georgia State, bench marked thriving new cities in the vicinity, and engaged the community to understand the needs and benefits. The conclusion is that the time has come to vote Yes for East Cobb to become a city.
Representatives living closer to the residents means more responsive, engaged leadership and accountability. East Cobbers currently vote for 2 of 5 of the Cobb County representatives making all the decisions for East Cobb (approx. 1 rep/180K residents). Cityhood would give residents representative government and local con rol, voting for 100% of the councilors and mayor, who must live within the city (approx. 1 rep/10k residents).
Cityhood will bring representation closer to the community for services that most affect the daily quality of life. Zoning created and approved by East Cobbers preserves suburban neighborhoods. Doing nothing means it is just a matter of time before you see mid-rises popping up through East Cobb’s tree canopy. The service of Local Ordinance addresses short-term rentals, like Airbnb, and treetops/canopy, to name a few. We believe applicable revenue from fees and permits should stay in the neighborhoods to benefit the residents.
What will the redevelopment of East Cobb look like in the future?
Redevelopment is coming to East Cobb one way or another. A locally elected council can and will maximize the benefit to the community with plans to reflect the needs of the people who live here. Redevelopment can happen in East Cobb without increasing density and urbanizing single-family home neighborhoods. A locally elected council of East Cobbers is the most reliable insurance to make sure our interests are best served.
A City of East Cobb will offer our own Public Safety services that can be maximized to meet the needs of our community of interest. East Cobb does not have excessive violent crimes, gang activities, or frequent bomb threats. However, we have a troubling increase in street racing, fatal motor vehicle crashes, and theft. Cityhood means we can introduce community policing to address these types of concerns and issues most prevalent in East Cobb.
Fire services will continue to be delivered to the community with the same fire stations, equipment, and possibly personnel that serve East Cobb with excellence today. East Cobb does not have an Interstate, airport, high-rises, or industrial areas like other parts of Cobb that need a different type of fire protection. We have an aging population; seniors make up over 17% of the population. East Cobb can benefit from an increased focus on EMT services and improving ambulance transport times. A City of East Cobb can redirect resources and explore other efficient models for deploying resources focused on East Cobb’s needs.
Take control of our zoning, local ordinance, parks, and public safety. Cityhood allows East Cobb to serve its residents better as we enter the next chapter of our community.
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KEEP TAXES LOW, VOTE NO FOR EAST COBB CITYHOOD!
By Robert Lax, Board Member on the East Cobb Alliance Committee
East Cobb Alliance is a grassroots organization formed in June of 2019 to educate residents and stakeholders on the community impacts of cityhood. We are opposed to cityhood because it will mean higher taxes and fees for residents and businesses, and a likely decline in the excellent safety services we currently receive from Cobb County. With approximately 90% of our area residential and only 10% commercial, East Cobb will be challenged to create the necessary revenues to support a city. Eventually, all cities are forced to raise taxes to continue their services and East Cobb will be no exception, as the Feasibility Study has not budgeted for fire equipment, training, park maintenance, raises in city officials’ salaries, and pension funds.
The cityhood bill gives a city council of six people and a mayor broad powers to change zoning and levy taxes, including special assessments and franchise fees. Businesses, especially small businesses, will have to raise prices under the burden of these fees. In fact, all cities in Cobb County, as well as Fulton cities, have raised taxes in order to be financially sustainable. In addition to increasing taxes, other cities have increased commercial development in order to increase the tax base. If you don’t want to see more development in East Cobb, vote NO on cityhood.
Cityhood presents an even deeper threat to our public safety. Our highly regarded Cobb County Police Chief and Fire Chief have both expressed legitimate concerns about cityhood. They highlighted their current quick response times, highly-trained response teams, specialized medical teams attached to firehouses, and excellent 911 services. When they reviewed the sup port structure proposed by cityhood proponents, they expressed concern about only having two firehouses resulting in slower response times, no medical support teams for each firehouse, no specialized highly-trained teams in the police department, and fewer police officers in the proposed city. Cobb County Fire currently has the highest Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating, which lowers our homeowners’ insurance premiums. Only one of the ten other cities incorporated in Georgia since 2005 has this top rating.
While cityhood proponents have stated that their primary objective is local zoning control, they have not provided any written details on their vision or plans for zoning as compared to the Cobb County Comprehensive Plan. There is no language in the city charter that limits high-density development. By contrast, our county commissioners regularly solicit input on zoning decisions and planning from the East Cobb Civic Association as well as local communities. You can make your voices heard.
What we do know for a fact is that cityhood will cost us more in taxes and fees and that our highly rated safety services will suffer. What we don’t know is how a city council will change zoning, or whether they will ever seek public input on their development decisions. Visit EastCobbAlliance.com for more information and reasons to VOTE NO in the May 24th primary election. We don’t need a city to keep East Cobb suburban!