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City of Sharon Springs proposal won’t move forward

A proposal to create the city of Sharon Springs in Forsyth County is being withdrawn from consideration by state lawmakers.

Forsyth’s state legislative delegation recently pulled its support for Sharon Springs, said Steve Benefield, a founding member of the Sharon Springs Alliance. Legislators cited legal concerns about incorporating a city with limited services and capped property tax rates.

Supporters of Sharon Springs wanted more local government representation by forming a city located between Fulton and Gwinnett counties, with a population of about 50,000.

Benefield said the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners isn’t meeting the needs of the community.

“It’s about local representation,” Benefield said. “We’re getting outvoted on everything that’s important to us. We’d rather have zoning done on a local level.”

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Rep. Mike Dudgeon, R-Johns Creek, said he’s not moving forward with House Bill 660 because it could run afoul of the Georgia Constitution, according to the Forsyth News.

Recent opinions by the Office of Legislative Counsel, which advises the Georgia General Assembly, said city councils have the power to raise taxes and expand service levels, even when their charters attempt to impose limitations.

“Legal developments and opinions over 2015 have made ‘city lite’ restrictions in a charter unconstitutional,” Dudgeon said during a pre-legislative breakfast organized by the Cumming-Forsyth County Chamber of Commerce, according to the Forsyth News.

Sharon Springs would have provided three services — planning and zoning, sanitation and code enforcement — with a maximum property tax rate of 0.5 mills, according to HB660.

With Sharon Springs off the table, Georgia lawmakers still may consider other cityhood proposals. Residents from several areas are seeking to incorporate cities of Greenhaven, South Fulton, Stonecrest and St. Simons Island.

Eight cities have formed in metro Atlanta over the last decade, including the incoming city of Tucker, which voters approved in a referendum last month.

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