Dunwoody mulls changing into city

LAWRENCEVILLE - A move is afoot to turn Dunwoody in neighboring DeKalb County into a city.

If it is successful, the new municipality would bump up against the Gwinnett County line just below the Peachtree Corners community, which considered incorporation last year but rejected it.

State Sen. Dan Weber, R-Dunwoody, filed legislation last week that would let voters decide if they want to form a city with a mayor and city council that would assume duties now handled by DeKalb County commissioners.

The city would have about 39,000 residents, and its boundaries would follow the Fulton and Gwinnett County lines to the west and north. To the east it would rub against Doraville, and Interstate 285 would generally form its southern border.

Weber, who also represents the Peachtree Corners area near Norcross, said the full Senate will consider the bill soon. The legislation must also pass the House and be signed by the governor, which Weber expects to happen.

A referendum on incorporation would be held in March 2007.

"There are people in Dunwoody who are excited about it, and there are some that have concerns," Weber said. "All the necessary information just hasn't been fully developed yet, and we intend to do that so people can make an informed vote."

A chunk of that information will come from a feasibility study being done by the University of Georgia. It is being paid for with $31,000 raised by residents, said Weber, who favors incorporation.

"We want government that is closer to the people and more responsible," Weber said.

A city government would let area residents have greater control over zoning and how land is developed, and it would receive government services equal to the taxes it pays - something Weber said is not happening with DeKalb County.

"It's about the ability to create your own vision for the future and what you want your community to look like and how you want it go grow," Weber said.

Barbara Dodds, president of the Dunwoody North Civic Association, said the issue of cityhood is a topic of conversation among residents in Dunwoody.

Some say they cannot make up their minds until a feasibility study is finished in coming weeks, she said. Such studies typically indicate how high taxes must be to support a city.

"Most people who support the city of Dunwoody are striving to have home rule instead of seven overworked county commissioners sitting down there deciding our destiny," Dodds said.

She said the civic association, which represents 1,000 households, has not taken a position on the cityhood issue.

Concerns about apartments popping up along major roadways are also not being addressed by DeKalb officials, Weber said.

In October, a homeowners network in Peachtree Corners polled its members about turning the community between Norcross and the Chattahoochee River into a city of roughly 15,000.

Those in the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association overwhelmingly said they had no interest in making a municipality.