The head of the group leading the effort to create a new city of Eagle's Landing says accusations of race being the motivating factor behind the legislation are simply not true.
According to Vikki Consiglio, chair of the Eagles Landing Educational Research Committee, if the proposed area officially becomes a city, roughly 47 percent of its population would be black, 39 percent would be white, 8 percent would be Asian, and the rest would be considered as "other."
“We have a very diverse community, and we’re very proud of that," said Consiglio. "It’s not racially motivated, not at all.”
Consiglio said she was pleased that the Georgia House voted Tuesday night to approve the second of two bills that would allow voters in the proposed city of Eagle's Landing to decide whether they want their area to incorporate as a city. Senate Bill 263 now heads back to the Senate to approve changes the House made to the bill.
An accompanying bill, Senate Bill 262, received final passage last month. It allows for the de-annexation of parts of the city of Stockbridge, if approved by voters in the same referendum vote.
Earlier in the legislative session, as the bills began to gain momentum, city leaders in Stockbridge organized press conferences, accusing the bill's backers of wanting to form a "white" city. In the November 2017 election, for the first time, all of the elected officials in the city of Stockbridge were black.
State Rep. Sandra Scott, a Democrat who represents Clayton and Henry counties said these bills are clear-cut racism.
“Are we going back to the days where we are going to have signs posted blacks not allowed?" asked Scott. "It makes you wonder, are we going to have separate bathrooms, separate water fountains? Where is the state of Georgia with acts like this?”
Consiglio fought back Wednesday, arguing that the effort to create a new city of Eagles Landing is motivated strictly by a desire for a better quality of life on the southside of Atlanta. Currently, she said, high-end retailers and restauranteurs avoid Henry County because the current average incomes listed for the county's municipalities seem to indicate the citizens would not support their establishments.
Creating a new, diverse city with a higher income demographic could finally attract desirable shops and restaurants, she said.
“We can say, 'Come to our city because we have the per capita income that you’re looking for,' to bring businesses to the southside.”
If approved, the city of Eagle's Landing would be made of more affluent, majority-African-American communities, she said.
Consiglio also took issue with opponents' claims that creating a new city of Eagle's Landing would "split the city of Stockbridge in half."
Currently, Stockbridge's population is roughly 28,000, she said. Nine thousand of Eagle's Landing's population would be de-annexed from the city of Stockbridge. Another 8,000 would be de-annexed from unincorporated parts of Henry County.
Backers of the bills also point to a lack of amenities in the Eagle's landing community.
“We don’t have parks in our area. We don’t have a library in our area. Code enforcement is shallow at best,” Consiglio said.
She and others will monitor closely what happens Thursday, the last day of the legislative session. If the Senate approves the House's changes to Senate Bill 263, it would head to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk, along with Senate Bill 262. If Deal signs both bills, ultimately, voters within the proposed borders of Eagle's Landing would decide in a referendum vote whether the city should be incorporated.
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