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BOC opts out of taking a position on Eagle’s Landing cityhood

Commissioner Bruce Holmes on Tuesday urged his fellow commissioners to approve a resolution that would allow them to send a letter to Deal voicing opposition to the new city of Eagle’s Landing. (File Photo)

Rose Mascotti

McDONOUGH— Henry County commissioners decided not to voice an official position to Gov. Nathan Deal on the Eagle’s Landing cityhood proposal, despite one commissioner’s pressing request.

Commissioner Bruce Holmes on Tuesday urged his fellow commissioners to approve a resolution that would allow them to send a letter to Deal voicing opposition to the new city, which would be the first to form from an existing city and to include parts of Stockbridge and unincorporated Henry County. He hoped the commissioners’ opposition would encourage Deal to veto Senate Bill 263 and House Bill 639— both Eagle’s Landing cityhood bills— if they are passed in both chambers.

“This legislation could have never moved forward without support of the commissioners in the impacted area,” said Holmes, indicating that at least three commissioners live in or represent the Eagle’s Landing area.

He commented that he is opposed to “the dismantling of the city of Stockbridge” as it takes away “all the prime commercial real estate” from Stockbridge. If the new city is approved, it would limit Stockbridge’s commercial base and revenues to mostly North Henry Boulevard, largely comprised of used car lots and used tire shops, among other small businesses.

“This is totally unfair. Being sworn in to protect this county, and Stockbridge being the largest city in this county, as an elected board, we are sworn to protect the citizens of Stockbridge,” said Holmes. “We don’t need to tear down individual cities in this county. They’ve worked for generations trying to build up the commercial corridor, and now we’re going to have one subdivision come and just rip the city apart.”

At the close of Tuesday’s meeting, Holmes made a motion to add the proposed resolution to the agenda for a vote. Commissioner Dee Clemmons seconded.

County Attorney Patrick Jaugstetter advised the group that Georgia law prohibits a government from taking any action to influence the outcome of a referendum. Both SB 263 and HB 639 call for a referendum on creating the city of Eagle’s Landing.

“It is my opinion that if you vote as a body to take a position, that you would, in fact, be influencing a potential referendum. I think it would, in fact, be an improper thing for you to vote on,” he said.

Holmes and Clemmons encouraged their colleagues to make a statement on the issue, though no other commissioners commented during Tuesday’s meeting.

In recent months, several municipalities across the state have approved similar resolutions, against de-annexing properties from existing cities to incorporate a new city.

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