City Of Stockbridge Sues To Stop Eagle’s Landing Referendum
The city of Stockbridge in Henry County wants to stop the vote that would take its land to create the new city of Eagle’s Landing.
A suit in federal court Monday says de-annexing parts of Stockbridge to establish Eagle’s Landing violates the Voting Rights Act by diluting the power of African-American voters.
The plaintiffs, which include two Stockbridge residents and the city development agency, are asking for the referendum to be put on hold.
“We think it’s important to have someone come in, hit the pause button, take a look at this thing, and review what we think are very serious constitutional violations,” said Chris Anulewicz, an attorney representing Stockbridge.
He says black residents who are moved into the new city of Eagle’s Landing would see their voting strength decreased. At the same time, white residents moved into the new city would have more voting power.
The suit also claims Eagle’s Landing would take a substantial portion of Stockbridge’s tax base making it hard for the city to pay back millions it owes in bonds.
The city owes $11.75 million to Capital One Public Finance on bonds it took out to finance a new city hall and other buildings.
That’s according to a suit the municipal bondholder filed last week in federal court. It’s also seeking to stop the Eagle’s Landing referendum.
Anulewicz says, considering all the consequences, the referendum creates a dangerous precedent.
“It really is putting every municipality in the state of Georgia at risk because overnight their city can be gutted, their tax base can go away,” he said.
Defendants in the suit include the director of Henry County’s election and registration office and Secretary of State Brian Kemp.
“This office has no involvement in the litigation aside from indirect, administrative responsibilities for the election in which the issue appears on the ballot,” said Candice Broce, a spokesperson to Secretary Kemp.
The lawsuit is the latest in a series of attempts to keep the Eagle’s Landing referendum from happening this November.
Stockbridge officials sued Henry County in June to stop the vote. That effort failed. A former mayor of Stockbridge has filed a complaint with the state bar of Georgia against two attorneys involved in the fight.