Powerful and influential Buckhead Coalition urges state senators to oppose legislation that singles out affluent communities and downtown Atlanta’s business districts.
Eric Tannenblatt, chairman of the Buckhead Coalition, said in a Feb. 27 letter that Senate Bills 113 and 114 “would stifle economic development because there are significant practical questions about deannexation that we do not have answers to.” The letter was written after a A Senate committee approved both bills.
What happens to the existing water and sewer infrastructure, whose systems “won’t change because of political whims?” Tanenblatt asked in the letter. “What about the government bond markets? These are matters that businesses will consider as part of their due diligence when considering relocation.’
Tannenblat, head of the global and U.S. public policy practice at the law firm Dentons, was chief of staff to Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue and was a longtime senior adviser to the late Republican U.S. Sen. Paul Coverdell of Georgia. He served under former presidents George W. Bush and George W. Bush. He said the Buckhead GOP bills would “sow chaos and lead us down a long road of uncertainty.”
“Buckhead is home to both large commercial enterprises in tall skyscrapers and young families on quiet, tree-lined streets,” Tanenblatt said. “It didn’t happen by accident, and we have the Golden Dome to thank for creating such a unique business-friendly climate throughout the state.
“But business requires — no, it requires — stability and trust in local government. In practical terms, SB 113 and SB 114, by setting up a referendum in November 2024, will sow chaos and lead us down a long road of uncertainty,” he said in the letter.
The Buckhead Coalition is concerned about crime and public safety, as are the residents seeking the separation, Tanenblatt said. Coalitions annual dinner in January focused on collaboration between local and state officials to address public safety issues.
But annexation is “short-sighted and counterproductive to our shared goals of promoting public safety and economic progress,” Tanenblatt said in the letter.
“We have deep symbolic and practical reservations about dividing our city,” he said. “Separating one neighborhood from the rest would mean the end of Atlanta’s reputation as ‘the city too busy to hate,’ an identity so strong it helped attract the Olympics and make us a global tourist destination.”
Tannenblatt added: “There are many reasons to be proud to be an Atlantean: world-class higher education institutions, a booming economy and more sporting and cultural attractions than hours in the day.
“But I am most proud of Atlanta’s tradition of community groups working with government, business and faith leaders in public-private partnerships to address our most pressing local challenges,” he said. “SB 113 and SB 114 would represent an admission that we no longer believe in that model.”
“The General Assembly deserves tremendous credit for helping make Buckhead, the city of Atlanta and the state of Georgia what they are today by supporting free market solutions to local problems,” Tanenblatt said. “We hope you don’t leave this track record now. Please vote NO on Senate Bills 113 and 114.”
Buckhead’s urban zoning bills, sponsored by Sen. Randy Robertson, R-Cataula, were introduced in response to a group of residents concerned mainly about crime, he said. If approved by the General Assembly, the bills would allow Buckhead residents to vote in a referendum in November 2024 to secede from the city of Atlanta.