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TRANSCRIBED: Shakleford to Friends, "What Do You Think About Maybe Annexation. And, You Know, We're Next to Chamblee."

Ben Shakleford says he reached out to people he knew after the Lavista Hills referendum failed at the ballot box and asked, "... what do you think about maybe annexation?  And, we're next to Chamblee."

If you haven't heard, a portion of the former Lavista Hills movement (which is also formerly the Lakeside City and City of Briarcliff initiatives) has not stopped pushing for a city, any city as long as it is not in any way related to Tucker, even after losing in the referendum vote this past November.  

So, far, we have heard them say that they have:
  • Trimmed up their map, calling it the "North Lavista Hills" area, basically cutting things off at Briarlake Road, but taking in all the commercial not already in Tucker, most notably the Northlake Mall which they have said they do not shop at themselves,
  • Brought back Mary Kay Woodworth to lead the effort until she quits, again,
  • Cut out some of the areas that they initially claimed were the ones to start the city movement (like Oak Grove, Sagamore Hills and areas near Lakeside High), 
  • Cut off the 21 acres of forest land from the residents who fought to save it, 
  • Cut out Alan Venet (Briarcliff movement) and Kevin Levitas (Lakeside movement)
  • Picked up a new leader in Ben Shakleford (more on him in just a moment),
  • Held on to Fran Millar in the Senate who represents a small portion of the area outside the perimeter, in addition to his main district of Dunwoody,
  • Spoken to the Mayor of Chamblee who even let Mary Kay sit in his seat at a meeting (one of those 'if you see it, you can achieve it' sort of mental game with the audience, no doubt.)
  • Spoken State Representative Holcomb who got their referendum on the ballot last year, and who Mary Kay says lives mere blocks away from her.  (But, she still doesn't consider her area to have anyone who lives in it?),
  • Spoken to a data analyst for Chamblee who is, apparently, already working on the numbers,
  • Gained preliminary support from a city councilman in Chamblee who works in the same industry as Mary Kay's husband and has served on the Tucker Business Association and Northlake Alliance (which disbanded after approving a huge apartment complex at Northlake, inside Tucker's map).
  • Emailed 50 of Ben's friends who live in some general, non defined area,
  •  Posted a survey somewhere,
  • Given up on getting their own city because there are tougher rules that might be enacted this year. 
  •  Done some kind of general "research" that looks "promising."
And ... finally... almost as an after thought...
  • Now they are ready to tell the good people of Chamblee about their plan and what great things it will mean for them....

What plan, you ask?  Well, the plan to annex the considerably larger area of Northern Lavista Hills, which has about 34,000 residents into the existing 29,000 resident city of Chamblee, of course.  Nevermind that the proposal completely goes against the legal definition of what an "annexation" actually is (a smaller area joining a large, main area).  Nevermind that the typical "community of interest" arguments  no longer hold true as it would involve crossing over I-85 AND I-285.  

Former leader Mary Kay "I keep quitting and then coming back" Woodworth and her new pal, Ben "I've lived in the same place all my life and know 50 people now" Shakleford have teamed up and really worked out all the kinks in the takeover, um, you know, we mean, the "annexation plan."

Just read for yourself the very compelling speech given by Mr. Shakleford.  Or you can even follow along with the video provided by the Brookhaven Post.

You can really tell how much they have thought this whole thing out .... 

 
Ben Shakleford, starting at 27:20 in the video:  

Um,  yeah, my name's Ben Shakleford.  I want to thank everyone for coming out, um, and having this discussion.

Ben Shakleford



As Mary Kay indicated, I spent, uh, a lot of time going out and talking to people about cityhood, City of Lavista Hills effort.  I went to, uh, probably at least 20 meetings over the Summer, last Summer, and walked around on weekends and talked to people at their front door, if they would answer it.  And spent a lot of time talking about and thinking about what a new city would be like if we started one up.  And, of course, like Mary Kay, I was very disappointed when it didn't work.
Um, because of the whole reason that she outlined, we do sort of crave, um, more close representation and maybe some better services.  Um, some of the sort of things that cities have to offer.  We've, um, you know, at least tried to do that in terms of starting our own city, but um, as she described, after that effort, um, we sat around for a while, couldn't speak to each other, or many other people just because we were exhausted.  

Mary Kay Woodworth

And then, I took the time to send a few emails in  December, just asking some people, a very small number of people, what they thought about this idea.  And then that sort of snowballed and then in early January, I sent more emails out to a wider circle of probably about 50 people, just trying to gather, you know just the people I knew because it's hard when you're sort of in the process of, um, advocating for something to really have a sense of, you know, an equilibrium of where you are in the world.  And so, it's important, I thought, to really reach out to people and say, you know, "So, so, what do you think about maybe annexation?  And, you know, we're next to Chamblee." (29:29 in the video, he finally mentions Chamblee)
 
Shackleford

You know, I, I ... give you my back story, I grew up here, I've lived here since 1966, right in the area of Shallowford and Briarcliff Road, um, all of those years, um, and I used to
work in Doraville, and have friends who own businesses in Chamblee, since the 80s, so, and other friends who have lived in Chamblee their entire lives. Um, friends other than Mary Kay, that is.

So, I mean, it's, it's, my familiarity was pretty thorough, I think, with Chamblee, um, and so I went to those friends of mine and said, "You know, they have some good things going on in Chamblee."   


It's, it's, uh, I always liked Chamblee, frankly.  Um, I'm kind of a gear head so I found the sort of industrial aspect of the original city fascinating, but, um, you know Chamblee has grown and I looked at some of the features of the current Chamblee, talked about those in my email and said, "You know, what do you, what does everyone think?"  And sort of my overwhelming response was, "You know, this isn't really anything we ever looked into or thought of."  



There's a lot of positive aspects of an existing city, um, there's a lot of "knowns" that exist that, that really aren't around when you're, you know, looking at creating a new city.  

So, um, I really decided to move forward and started initiating conversations with the Mayor and sort of did a little research and put a survey online, and started thinking about, you know, the process, and been sort of stumbling forward and, um, part because we're gathering a team of people, um, we're kind of growing every day.  We have a lot of people who want to be involved but it's a question of getting some organization together (like the city group that you just supposedly were in?).  

And, frankly, um, you know, it, it, it makes sense to look at some numbers and do some discussion before we spend everybody's time and go out and try to twist everybody's arms because if it turns out the 50 people I emailed are the only 50 people that want to be annexed into Chamblee then, you know, it's not going to work.

Um, it's not, unfortunately, going to be something that, if things work out, that's going to be entirely organic and parts of the reason are like the Mayor described.  You know, this is a matter that requires some urgency, unfortunately, I'm always a fan of being deliberate and methodical and, um, in fact, one of the things I think, in fact, the most appealing features of Chamblee is its government and the way they have been governed.  It's a very deliberate and methodical way that they approach issues like redeveloping the downtown, and development in general, and sprucing up Buford Highway and promoting the city and the people who live in the city.  So, I think that, um, it's unfortunate that we do not have that opportunity, but the reality is that we do not have that opportunity to be, as measured as your city government typically is.


Shakleford
Now, that doesn't mean that we, as adults, in my view anyway, cannot make an informed decision about this. 
Woodworth
Now, I, I know there's information out there and we're currently working to get some more concrete things to develop a feasibility study and as I was telling one of the analysts that agreed to work with me on the feasibility study, I was talking on the phone before this meeting and I said, you know, if we do a first pass at this nothing's in the ballpark and then there's no reason to continue, but, um, so far the stuff we've looked at looks promising and it's unfortunate it's a byproduct of the way we tax and we govern ourselves, to come up with a feasibility plan and so it's something that we're working on. 

This tonight is, I think, is not necessarily covering that but getting other issues on the table and looking at, you know, people's thoughts and, and, I'm sure some people are, you know, have a variety of reservations and people, probably other people, are probably gung-ho.  I'd like to get some sense of where people stand on this and I'm sure and address whatever questions I can.  So, um, that's pretty much what I have for you.  And, I'm sure there's going to be lots of questions and I don't want to take up all the time for that.  So, um, I'll turn it back over. 

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