A community group is hoping to turn Peachtree Corners into the northside's next new city.
The United Peachtree Corners Civic Association has asked members of Gwinnett's legislative delegation to pursue state action allowing it to incorporate the area between the cities of Norcross and Berkeley Lake. If a measure passes the Legislature, residents there could vote on cityhood as early as November.
Mike Mason, president of the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association, said the drive toward incorporation began last year when the City of Norcross tried to annex Technology Park, which lies within the Peachtree Corners area.
"I can't tell you the number of emails I received saying ‘Oh no,' " Mason said. "I met with [Norcross Mayor] Bucky Johnson, and he and the City Council are just trying to do what's in the city's best interest. So we posed the question back to the membership, ‘Isn't it time we did what's in our best interest?' "
Rep Tom Rice, who represents the area in the Georgia House, said the group is not interested in becoming a full-fledged traditional city, but what he referred to as a "city light."
He said the civic association is looking to establish three primary services: planning and zoning; code enforcement; and trash service. Most likely, he said, the city would have a "weak mayor" with limited powers.
"The objective here is to keep the costs minimal," Rice said, "but to gain the capability to control the destiny of Peachtree Corners from the standpoint of planning and zoning."
Rice said he hopes the Gwinnett delegation will support the idea.
"We're just evaluating the options," said civic association board member Jose Perez. "We do this periodically. We did this maybe as much as three years ago, and the community resoundingly said ‘no.'"
He said the civic association has asked for a feasibility study to determine the costs associated with running a minimal municipal government. If the costs can be held in check, he said, he thinks voters will approve of the idea.
But Brooke Nebel, a local resident for 16 years, said she has spoken to a number of business owners and residents who oppose the move.
"In this time of recession, I don’t believe that we should incur a tax increase on the good people of this area to create the City of Peachtree Corners," said Nebel, who is opposing Rice for the Distict 51 House seat. "All of us are seeing increases in our health, home and car insurance in addition to a county tax increase. Do we really need to pay even a .5 mil on top of all of our increases?"
Nebel said the community should instead pursue attracting new businesses to strengthen the area and work with the county and neighboring cities to preserve the area without a tax increase.
Mason of the civic association said the city likely would contain 20,000 to 30,000 residents.
"UPCCA cannot compete against a city like Norcross," he said. "It's just time."
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