Eric Tanenblatt, chair of the Buckhead Coalition, urged state senators in a letter to vote against Buckhead cityhood bills because they would “choke off economic development” and “sow chaos and set us down a long path of uncertainty.” (Special)

The powerful and influential Buckhead Coalition is urging state senators to oppose legislation that would carve out the affluent community and business district from the city of Atlanta.

Eric Tanenblatt, chair of the Buckhead Coalition, said in a Feb. 27 letter that Senate Bills 113 and 114 “will choke off economic development because there are significant, practical questions about de-annexation for which we have no answers.” The letter was written after a Senate committee approved both bills.

What happens to the existing water and sewer infrastructure, whose systems “won’t change with political whims?” Tanenblatt asked in the letter. “And what about the state’s bond markets? These are questions that businesses will consider in their due diligence in considering relocation.”

Tanenblatt, head of global and U.S. public policy practices at Dentons law firm, was chief of staff under Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue and was a longtime senior advisor to the late Republican U.S. Senator Paul Coverdell of Georgia. He has served under former Presidents George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. He said the Republican Buckhead cityhood bills would “sow chaos and set us down a long path of uncertainty.”

“Buckhead is at once home to major commercial enterprises in towering skyscrapers and young families on quiet, tree-lined streets,” Tanenblatt said. “That didn’t happen by accident, and we have the Gold Dome to thank for fostering such a unique pro-business climate across the state.

“But businesses crave — no, they demand — stability and confidence in local government. In practical terms, SB 113 and SB 114, creating a November 2024 referendum, would sow chaos and set us down a long path of uncertainty,” he said in the letter.

The Buckhead Coalition is concerned about crime and public safety, like the residents pushing for secession, Tanenblatt said. The coalition’s annual luncheon in January focused on collaboration between local and state officials to address public safety.

But de-annexation is “shortsighted and counterproductive to our mutual goals of increased public safety and economic progress,” Tanenblatt said in the letter.

“We have profound symbolic and practical reservations about dividing our city,” he said. “Cleaving one neighborhood from the rest would mean the end of Atlanta’s reputation as ‘the city too busy hate,’ an identity so strong it helped attract the Olympic Games and made us a global tourist destination.”

Tanenblatt added: “There are many reasons to be proud to be an Atlantan: world-class institutions of higher learning, a booming economy, and more sports and cultural attractions than there are hours in the day.

“But I’m most proud of Atlanta’s tradition of civic groups collaborating with government, business, and faith leaders in public-private partnerships to address our most urgent 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 enormous 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 challenges,” Tanenblatt said. “We hope you won’t abandon this track record now. Please, vote NO on Senate Bill 113 and Senate Bill 114.”

The Buckhead cityhood bills, sponsored by Sen. Randy Robertson, a Cataula Republican, were introduced in response to a group of residents concerned primarily about crime, he said. If approved by the General Assembly, the bills would allow Buckhead residents to vote in a November 2024 referendum to secede from the city of Atlanta.

Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.