Members of Brookhaven City Council display a birthday cake for the new city on Dec. 17, 2012, the day the city opened for business. Left to right: Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams, Councilman Bates Mattison, Mayor J. Max Davis, Councilman Jim Eyre and Councilman Joe Gebbia.

With balloons, a birthday cake and the Cross Keys High School color guard, Brookhaven City Council officially opened the new city with a special meeting that began moments after midnight.

“Welcome to the city of Brookhaven,” Mayor J. Max Davis said as he called the council to order about 12:01 a.m. Dec. 17, the day the city officially started. Brookhaven’s voters approved the new city in a referendum last summer.

The next afternoon, about 60 people gathered at 200 Ashford Center North in Dunwoody to formally open the city’s offices.

More than 50 people gathered at St. Martins Episcopal School to watch the inaugural meeting and share in the party atmosphere that featured snacks from local restaurants of hot wings, doughnuts, pizza and cookies and featured  background music by Jay Memory, a one-man band. Chamblee High School senior Gais Chowdhury sang the national anthem.

The meeting actually was the second by the council in a couple of hours. It also met at 10 a.m. Dec. 16 to wrap up final pre-startup business. The council also adopted a moratorium on new business or alcohol licenses or rezonings until Jan. 17 so it would have time to establish the new city departments to handle the requests.

During the meetings, the council elected City Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams to the post of mayor pro tem and adopted a series of ordinances so the city would have a set of laws in place as soon as it opened. Most of the ordinances were copied directly from the DeKalb County code. City officials said they could be modified later to fit city’s local needs and desires.

“Right now, we’re building an airplane as we’re flying off the runway,” Acting City Attorney Bill Riley told the council.

“We can think of a better analogy than that,” Davis said. “We’re building a building brick by brick.”

“And living in it while we build it,” Riley added.

About 2 p.m. Dec. 17, Davis and other council members were joined by city officials from Dunwoody, who watched as Davis cut a red ribbon to formally open the city’s new offices.

“It took a long two years of hard work to get to this point,” Davis said.

Dunwoody Mayor Mike Davis then gave the Brookhaven mayor a key to the city of Dunwoody. “I would like to welcome the city of Brookhaven to the city of Dunwoody,” he said.

Brookhaven is leasing about 12,7000 square feet of office space in the Dunwoody office building, said Jed Beardsley, a member of the Governor’s Commission for Brookhaven who was in charge of securing offices for the city’s start. Eventually, Beardsley said, there could be about 50 city employees working from the offices, which will house planning and zoning, parks and recreation, public works, communications, finance and information technology workers.

Brookhaven’s municipal court operations will be housed at Corporate Square, Building Two, in the

Members of Brookhaven City Council cut the ribbon on city offices on Dec. 17. Left to right: Diane Calloway of the Perimeter Community Improvement District holds the ribbon as Brookhave Councilman Joe Gebbia, Councilman Jim Eyre, Mayor J. Max Davis, Councilwoman Rebecca Chase Williams and Councilman Bates Mattison cut it.

city of Brookhaven, he said.

Joe Earle is Editor-at-Large. He has more than 30-years of experience with daily newspapers, including the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was Managing Editor of Reporter Newspapers.