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Why are there so many efforts to form new cities in Georgia?

Efforts to form four new cities in Cobb County are still alive.

ATLANTA — Efforts to form four new cities in Cobb County are still alive, following a trend that began 17 years ago.

Proposals to turn unincorporated areas of Cobb County into the cities of Vinings, East Cobb, Mableton, and Lost Mountain are in different stages of working their way through the state legislature. 

Gov. Brian Kemp has signed legislation that will allow voters to weigh in on the creation of Vinings, Lost Mountain, and East Cobb. The issue of a new city of Mableton passed the Georgia House and is awaiting a vote from the Georgia Senate.

Since 2005, there have been at least 17 efforts to form new cities in metro Atlanta. Here’s why.

It all began with Sandy Springs. In 1966, when the city of Atlanta tried to absorb a large area of Fulton County, many living in that area objected. It sparked a movement to form a new city.  According to the Georgia Municipal Association, state law at the time prevented a new city from forming if it was within three miles of another.

Rusi Patel, with the Georgia Municipal Association, said that restriction went away in 2005, leading to the creation of Sandy Springs.

“When that prohibition got wiped off the books, that's when you started seeing all these new cities coming into place and it started with Sandy Springs,” Patel explained.

Emory University Political Science Professor Andra Gillespie points out that just prior to the change in Georgia law, there was a change at the state capitol.

“After Republicans took control of state government in 2003, they were much more open to the idea of incorporation and cityhood movements,” Gillespie said. “They changed laws that made it easier for residents of certain unincorporated areas to be able to come together.”

Reasons for wanting to form a new city can range anywhere from political disagreements to money.

“I think probably the bigger reason, though, is services,” Patel added. “Closer connections to their local government. It tends to vary depending on what the circumstances are.”

According to historic records, the area of Cobb County known as Mableton once operated as an incorporated city beginning in 1912. However, Mableton had to turn back to the county to help pay for repairs from flood damage in 1916.

The area now wants to become a city once again.

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