Georgia House backs allowing residents to decide East Cobb Cityhood
The Georgia House of Representatives on Thursday voted 98-63 to allow the city of East Cobb to incorporate. If it can clear a final procedural hurdle next week, it will go to the state Senate for approval. If it passes in that chamber, a referendum on East Cobb Cityhood would be held during the May primary election. Most of Cobb’s legislative delegation voted against the plan, citing concerns over transparency and the accelerated timeline.
County officials and some residents have complained that the process was moving so fast that voters won’t know the implications of what they’re being asked to consider during the vote. Supporters of the new city say they want local control of issues that affect their community — particularly zoning and redevelopment as the county continues to grow around them.
At a recent public hearing, complaints surfaced including that the Democrat-led commission, under Chair Lisa Cupid, wasn’t effectively representing their community.
East Cobb is one of four cityhood movements that Cobb County is facing. The others are Mableton, Vinings, and Lost Mountain. The cityhood pushes gained steam after the longtime Republican stronghold flipped to Democratic control in 2020.
Rep. Matt Dollar, a Republican who lives in East Cobb, said the goal was to move a handful of services to a level of government closer to the people, insisting that taxes would not increase. “Why do the people of Smyrna deserve that level of self-governance, and the people of my community do not even deserve the right to decide if they want it?” Dollar said.
The House will have to approve the bill again next week before it can advance due to a motion to reconsider. If it passes both chambers, the referendum would be held during the May primary election, five months earlier than initially planned, leaving little time for supporters or opponents to make their case to voters. Critics say the primary election vote, rather than during the general election, will likely result in fewer people deciding the issue.
Cobb officials pleaded during a recent hearing for more time to study its effect on the county government. “I am not opposed to cities,” Cobb Chairwoman Lisa Cupid. “I am opposed to persons having to vote without having clear and accurate information before them.”
House leaders, however, defended the process, noting that more than half of Georgia residents live in cities; they said east Cobb residents, too, should have that right.
Rep. Don Parsons, a Marietta Republican who joined Cobb’s Democrats in voting against cityhood, pointed to disparity among the two sides saying, “They have money; they know how to run a campaign. The people who oppose this, they don’t have any of that.”
At a recent public hearing, complaints surfaced including that the Democrat-led commission, under Lisa Cupid, wasn’t effectively representing their community.
The new city of East Cobb would provide only limited services including zoning, code enforcement, road maintenance, parks and police, and fire department services. If approved, the referendum would provide for a six-member council that would be elected citywide in November.
Bounded by the Chattahoochee River in the southeast, Shallowford Road in the north, and Old Canton Road in the west, the proposed city would encompass some 50,000 residents currently living in unincorporated Cobb. A feasibility study by the Center for State and Local Finance said the new city would have enough tax revenue to pay for the services it plans to provide.
The status of the other communities in Cobb seeking cityhood is unknown.