The new city

Ben Nelms's picture

I was elated a few weeks ago to see that a few of our south Fulton readers made the time to post blogs on our website, both pro and con, in response to a column I wrote advocating the formation of the City of South Fulton. Participation from south Fulton residents by blogging on our website is something I hope will continue and grow in the future. With the website getting about two million hits per month, it is a great way to have your say in a manner that tens of thousands of viewers will see and, perhaps, provide their own response. And whether we all agree or disagree on a given topic, it’s as critical as ever that people make their voice heard. Given the topic of city-hood, it was not overly surprising that the column attracted a few bloggers. And blogger responses to the “Form the City of South Fulton” opinion column weighed in on both sides of the issue.

As for me, I first became aware of the potential formation of the two new cities in south Fulton more than two years ago. Like some of you, I attended a gathering of about 1,000 south Fulton residents at GICC in November 2005. I was impressed with the large majority of people in the room who wanted to strike out on their own course and have local control over their own destiny without the help of the commissioners in development and other matters. (By the way, “local control” cited by one blogger is term used on myriad public issues nationwide. It was not the brainchild of those pesky SFCC members, or those in Chatt Hills, who dared to want their own city.) It was shortly after the GICC meeting that I made up my mind. And in subsequent months I watched as nearly everyone lined up against the few pro-City of South Fulton residents who initially spoke out for city-hood. The attorneys and officials in some of the existing cities that annexed so much of south Fulton in 2006 made a point of constantly bad-mouthing the new city, casting cleverly articulated doubt with lawyerly ease. Our legislators didn’t help much by not catching a scriveners error that messed up the works in SB 552 in 2006 and by providing the timetable for annexing to be extended well into 2007. Then there is Fulton County Commissioner Bill Edwards, the most continuously outspoken opponent of the new city, who told residents of the Oakley Township Homeowners Association Monday night to “vote no” on Sept. 18. In short, proponents of the new city have been battled at every turn by money and power.

In a way, residents’ struggle to form the City of South Fulton reminds me of other struggles I’ve witnessed. One of those was in the rural counties where I used to report, where a small group of residents, vastly outnumbered by money and power, fought successfully to keep county commissioners from selling the Subtitle D landfill to a trash behemoth that would have taken it regional. And it reminds me of the hundreds of “developmentally disabled” people with whom I worked for 20 years, in advocacy for those who have no voice, no respect and virtually no rights. Neighbors’ cries of not wanting “that kind in my neighborhood” was standard fare on the palette of intolerance, often used to paint a landscape in hues of suspicion, anger and fear. I learned long ago that struggles exist everywhere.

So far in recent Fulton County history, four geographic areas have gone to the polls to vote on city-hood. All four, 100 percent, voted overwhelmingly in favor of forming their own cities. Not one single area wanted to remain in unincorporated Fulton County. Does that tell you something? And now in south Fulton County, the day of reckoning is finally here for the City of South Fulton. The vote to decide its fate will be taken on Sept. 18.

Who will benefit if the city fails? In my opinion, the Fulton County Board of Commissioners for one, since they will continue to control (woops, there’s that word again) the development in what’s left of unincorporated Fulton; some developers for another, the ones that may otherwise find themselves on the short end of the stick if their fate becomes linked to a mayor, council and planning commission that will doubtless be much more scrutinizing of high density developments. If you doubt this, I suggest you speak with some of the long-term residents of south Fulton who have, for years, begged the commission to stop the density, residents who insisted that the South Fulton Parkway be protected. I find it as no surprise that some of those residents are the same ones who today are promoting the new city.

login to post comments | Ben Nelms's blog

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Submitted by jamesr57 on Mon, 09/17/2007 - 1:57pm.

I was all for starting a city in the beginning. I was one of the 1,000 folks who wanted to trot out on my own. What changed my mind? The fiscal uncertainties, elected state senator Kasim Reed and the way the annexations were handled.

From the start I fell prey to the aura of starting a city from scratch. My emotions were high on a city of South Fulton. Then the rational side of me stepped forth with a lot of questions. When I started to ask those questions I wasn't receiving satifactory answers.

I sat in a community meeting one eveing and heard our state senator announce that "Shirley didn't want to land locked". My reaction was what in the you-know-what does Shirley have to do with us? At that point I started looking closely at things and realized this was a set up to uncover Fulton Industrial Blvd for the city of Atlanta to annex. It almost worked, until the bill's language was changed to "include" South Fulton tracts of land.

I've asked the reformulated SFCC for information on the plan for a city in the last month or so. What did I receive? Nothing. Instead, their communications person took the video that I shot and edited and started using it for their political purposes without my permission. All I wanted was to add a disclaimer since on my website I had intentionally not endorsed either side of the issue. I provided information for all sides.

The lack of transparency doomed this effort once it got truly underway. When problems a rose they closed the doors and stop publishing the minutes. That's not what should have been done.

Besides the lose of nearly $3 million in revenues is a large deficit to overcome from the start. As for following the crowd, just because your neighbor poisons his well doesn't mean you should follow suit.


Submitted by JessieJames on Mon, 09/17/2007 - 5:10pm.

There is a harsh reality with tomorrows vote. South Fulton will not be able to stay unincorporated regardless of whether it becomes a city or not. At Cliftondales meeting the other nite Rob Pitts more or less told the folks there that they would probably be better off forming the city and in his own words he said that the county doesnt see the need to continue to provide city like sevices to the remaining portion of south fulton. If you vote no that means that you more or less want to be annexed by the city thats closest to you. Which city do you live near James? How would you like your millage to jump from 4.71 to 9 if your annexed by Atlanta. Yes its a reality that your taxes will probably increase some but not double. You already have a workforce ready to go to work for south fulton. The police and firefighters that have stayed are anxiosly awaiting tomorrows decision so they will know whether or not they will continue to serve a new city or whether or not they need to apply with atlanta, eastpoint, union city, fairburn, palmetto or chattahoochie hills. The legislature has decided to divey up the rest of south fulton like pieces of a pie to the rest of the other cities in the event that its shot down. Its not a majic solution and yes it will have problems but who doesnt have them. 12 MILLION dollars in splost will be at the new cities disposal that currently south fulton residents dont have access to. All the mistakes that the new cities have made can be a tool for the new city of south fulton to learn from. Secure the rest of south fulton-- dont just STAND STRONG---- BE STRONG and be brave. Save the rest of south fulton and form the new city or it will be swept away in a tsunami of annexations in less than two years.

Submitted by jamesr57 on Tue, 09/18/2007 - 5:50am.

Jessie I live in what I call no man's land. I'm too far from Atlanta (thank God!) and too far from the rest of the cities in SF.

The point everyone is missing is in less than 50 days you got to go back to the polls to get your cash cow - Fulton Industrial Blvd. There is no guarantee either way you go. The rest of Fulton County has to agree to allow FIB to be annexed so to speak into a city of South Fulton. That's more frightening than anything else.

We're already paying for the fire and police. The state is jealous of FC for whatever reason and wants to disband it. NF is totally incorporated why does it want it's own county? You know better than I.

BTW SF won't get it's tax revenue from Fulton until late next year after it's been collected again. In the meantime the new government has to get a tax anticipation note from a bank. Which bank? We don't have the clout of the city's of NF since we don't have bankers living in our community. It's a six of one and half dozen of the other. Besides, I prefer to deal with the devil I know than to one I don't.


Submitted by JessieJames on Tue, 09/18/2007 - 12:06pm.

Ok lets look at some #s. In Dr Edgers report the opening budget of 54 million in the first year is without the cash cow you speak of. As a matter of fact all the cash cow brings to the table is 7 million. These figures were in his report from last year before the annexations took place. Without FIB the city will start with a 54 million dollar budget and 12 million in splost at its disposal. If FIB comes on board add another 7 million. FIB doesnt make or break the new city but in all actuality the FIB business association supports coming into the city of south fulton. So now lets talk about the devil that you know cause I know him as well and we have both seen his work as of late. This is the same devil that upheld the shady annexations by union city and atlanta and didnt give the majority of those people that were annexed the ability to vote for what they wanted. Those people are stuck now. So this is just my opinion but I think I would rather see what the other devil has to offer. At least the new city would be able to control its own destiny and not have its future decided on by 6 people that doesnt live in its boundaries. Let NF break off and become its own county. All of the growth is in south fulton right now anyway. I dont think getting a loan is gonna be a problem with a guarantee of 54 million by the end of next year. I would love for south fulton to stay unincorporated but the legislature is not gonna let that happen.

Submitted by JessieJames on Wed, 09/19/2007 - 8:07am.

Well now we know who the most powerfull man in south fulton is. Bill you led your voting force to the polls as you played your pied piper tune "stand strong". Well dont stop playing it now cause a celebration isnt in order. Theres a hurricane brewing off the coast of south fulton. A hurricane of annexations that will devastate whats left in the blink of an eye. How are you gonna stop it Bill. Whats your "majic bullit" sir? Please tell us whats up your sleeve. Your same voting force better be ready to stand strong and fight the other cities as this hurricane makes landfall in the next year and when that begins to happen you may have a lot to asnwer for from the very ones you lulled to the polls.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.