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A Gated Community Tried to Form a New, Whiter Town to Land a Cheesecake Factory

Residents of a gated community in Georgia say they’re not racist, they just really love fancy chain restaurants

The Cheesecake Factory exterior Phillip Pessar/Flickr

The 2018 midterm elections resulted in Democrats retaking control of the House and Michigan legalizing recreational weed, among other things — but residents of one Georgia county were more concerned with faux-Egyptian pillars and gigantic menus: A gated country club community outside of Atlanta sought to secede from its city because the residents claim they wanted to land a Cheesecake Factory.

The measure put to a vote in Henry County would have de-annexed approximately half of the city of Stockbridge, forming a new town called Eagle’s Landing. It failed to pass, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, with 3,473 votes for and 4,545 against.

The attempted secession came shortly after Stockbridge elected a black mayor and an all-black city council, CityLab notes. The controversial plan would have seized swaths of prime real estate as well as the wealthiest taxpayers from Stockbridge, “leaving behind a smaller, mostly African American population with fewer resources to pay for Stockbridge city services.”

The folks behind the secession movement say it wasn’t racism fueling the charge, but rather, the desire for fancier chain restaurants. “I serve on the Henry County zoning board and so I kept seeing all of these places like Bojangles, Waffle Houses, dollar stores, and all this going up in our county,” Vikki Consiglio, the chair of the Committee for the City of Eagle’s Landing, told CityLab. “And I was like, why can’t we get a Cheesecake Factory, or a P.F. Chang’s or a Houston’s? We have areas that have high incomes, so what’s the deal?”

Consiglio claims the Cheesecake Factory won’t open in Stockbridge because the median household income — which in Stockbridge is approximately $55,000, versus the numerous six-figure-income households that reside in Eagle’s Landing — is too low. (The Cheesecake Factory would neither confirm nor deny that, and does not share its site-selection data.)

Since Election Day failed to make Eagle’s Landing residents’ dreams of a whiter, wealthier town come true, it seems they’ll have to continue dining at the country club for now.

The Strangest Form of White Flight [CityLab]
Eagle’s Landing Secession From Stockbridge Defeated by Voters [AJC]