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Larry Johnson pushing for new city

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District 3 DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson, whose district covers the southwest region of the county, hopes his new proposed city will help the residents in the area.

In a regular board of commissioners meeting, Johnson unveiled his idea for the new proposed city—to be named Prosperity.

The region would cover roughly 150,000 residents and Johnson said the area would attract future businesses.

“It has almost $6 million in appraised value. A part of this is trying to control our own destiny. It’s called the city of Prosperity where vision and dreams come true,” Johnson said.

In an email exchange with The Champion, Johnson said the district has plenty of valuable assets.

“We have many assets that are really not promoted properly by the county,” Johnson said. “[The district] has Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center…schools of high achievement, great parks, great non-profits as well as Bimbo Bakeries, Valhalla movie studios, Georgia State University (Panthersville campus), Gallery at South DeKalb, Bouldercrest Industrial park, two CID (Conley and East Metro) and proximity to world’s busiest airport, which is 10 minutes away.”

One of the major pushes to creating a new city is working on the area’s code enforcement and beautification enhancements, Johnson said.

“We have to explore and see what is feasible so the people of this great district can see our possibilities. This will allow us to control our economic destiny, guide our beautification and code compliance efforts. We can begin to focus on civic engagement effort that focuses on youth engagement that can decrease crime and increase parental involvement,” Johnson said.

Kevin Polite, a DeKalb County resident and local real estate agent, said he agrees with Johnson that a new city may help the code enforcement process.

Polite is also a volunteer who works with Friends of Dearborn Park. Last year the group of volunteers painted park benches and cleaned up the area around Dearborn Park. He said the county has been slow in returning phone calls from the group.

Johnson’s district is also home to Creekside Forest Apartments, known for its poor conditions. Johnson previously stated he’s working on issues with the complex and in September of 2016 a DeKalb County judge issued a warrant for the owner’s arrest.

“I do like government being closer to where you live and making it more accountable. From that aspect, I like the idea of a new city,” Polite said. “When I worked with Friends of Dearborn Park we had volunteers wanting to do a project and the county doesn’t call us back. Getting politics closer to where you live is a good thing though I’m still not sold on how [the proposed city] will increase housing value.”

However, Polite said the proposed city will essentially have the same assets and he worries property taxes will increase. Polite said he also doesn’t like the name.

“It’s a horrible name. It sounds like a religious church. Just the name alone I can’t see there being any marketable real estate value,” Polite said. “But I haven’t seen any of his plans on how it will bring in new businesses.”

Prosperity, if approved, would join Stonecrest, Tucker and Brookhaven as recent cities to incorporate into DeKalb County.

“DeKalb cities are exploring annexations galore so most of the valuable taxable land will be gone so unincorporated taxes will inevitably go up so we must protect ourselves and build on our pride to make visions and dreams of our city, the city of Prosperity, a reality,” Johnson said.

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