Standing in Dignity, Grace, & the Power of God

Article by · February 21, 2019

When I reached out to Vikki Townsend Consiglio late last year, the vote had already returned in favor of the City of Stockbridge, there would be no City of Eagle’s Landing. Headlines like The Wealthy Atlanta Suburb Fighting to Secede From Its City, and A Gated Community Tried to Form a New, Whiter Town to Land a Cheesecake Factory, were spun and talked about all over the country, creating undertones of racism that rocked the consciousness of Southern Crescent voters and spectators.
Now that Stockbridge is healing and moving on, I felt it important that Vikki’s [chair of the Eagle’s Landing Educational Research Committee (ELERC)] side of the story be shared.

FROM TENNESSEE TO GEORGIA
A natural born fighter, Townsend Consiglio is inspired by people who don’t sway away from their destiny. She believes that to whom much is given, much is required, and that her faith in Christ gives her the stamina she needs to to live the life that God has ordained her to live.
Hailing from the tiny farming community Sugar Tree,Tennessee, Vikki’s story in Georgia began when her mother remarried and the family relocated to Kennesaw. She attended Autrey Middle School and graduated from North Cobb High School at the age of 16. As a young adult, Vikki was married to a minister and traveled across the United States singing and evangelizing. After extensive travel from one end of the country to the other, she and her small family settled in Troy, Alabama where they pastored a church.
When a mission opportunity was derailed because of violence and unrest in Sierra Leon, West Africa the family moved back to Georgia and lived at a local church parsonage [in Clayton County] where her [then] husband was the assistant pastor and music director. Townsend Consiglio moved from Clayton County to Henry County in 1999 and she remarried in 2013.

IS HENRY COUNTY NOT GOOD ENOUGH FOR MORE THAN FAST FOOD?
“As a member of the Henry County Zoning Board I noticed mostly fast food restaurants coming into our county, this was a red flag to me. While I couldn’t stop a business from locating in a commercially zoned area, I did question why so many fast food restaurants were coming here?” Anytime she and her husband wanted to enjoy fine dining, they found themselves driving to Atlanta and sometimes sitting in traffic for hours. “Of course, Atlanta has many fine dining restaurants to choose from [most large cities do].”
It was when Vikki realized that people who lived in the northern suburbs [of Atlanta] did not have to drive and sit in traffic for hours to enjoy the luxury of fine dining, boutique shopping, and stores like Whole Foods, she began to research how those same luxuries and benefits could be brought to the south side.

THE LOST CITY
Bringing more upscale amenities to South Atlanta with the creation of a new city, was the intention of the ELECR. While pushbacks were anticipated, Vikki says that they did not anticipate the amount of taxpayer’s dollars the City of Stockbridge would use to fight against the idea of a new city. Neither did the committee anticipate the three lawsuits filed to stop voters from voting for the City of Eagle’s Landing. Even though pushbacks were a given, the misconceptions about the project were not.
One big misconception about project was that it was racially, politically and/or “class” (haves and have not’s) demographically motived. “Nothing could have been more far from the truth. City lines were not drawn by race or class. City lines were drawn to capture what was known as the area of Eagle’s Landing that was developed in the 1980’s”, Vikki clarifies. The lines were drawn by the Census Bureau. The breakdown of the race was derived after the lines were drawn. The ELERC would have had no way of knowing what race, class or political majority was in those neighborhoods. Also the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) came out with the high income and low poverty areas in their 2016 Metro Atlanta study. At that time Henry County showed no poverty areas but it did show a high income area and that was the area of Eagle’s Landing.
The greatest misconception of them all was that the newly formed city would have a separate city tax to survive. “We were already paying local option sales tax (L.O.S.T) and franchise fees to utilities of which would not come back into our community. Also all the business tax in our proposed area was going into the City of Stockbridge and those in unincorporated Henry County [that reside in the Eagles Landing area] were   getting no benefit of any of those taxes.”
In hindsight, Vikki says that she would do nothing differently because she and the committee did everything that was required of them. “It was all about the vote.The citizens got to vote, and that was the ultimate goal. I will continue to pursue developers who show interest in bringing high end development to the area known as Eagle’s Landing.”
   At the end of the day what people should know is that Townsend Consiglio does not feel like a victim because what people don’t know or understand they make up to justify why they “hate or despise” her. She knows that whether it is being a christian, business owner, organizer, politician, or volunteer, there will always be those who will try to drag her down for her accomplishments and endeavors. Her answer to them is the question what are you doing?
“I am not a people pleaser and it doesn’t bother me that folks don’t like me. I don’t do the things I do to please people. I am inspired by Christ. His life was not easy but he never swayed from his destiny. He accepted his fate in the end by forgiving those who crucified him. I don’t let what people say about me define me. I define myself by the life I live.”