Mike Mason, the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) president, led off the two-hour meeting that took place last evening at the Christ the King Lutheran Church.
More than 125 local residents came to hear Mason, along with civic leaders, Mary Kay Murphy, District 3 Gwinnett County School Board Member, Lynette Howard, District 2 County Commissioner, and State Rep. Tom Rice (R-Norcross) who provided updates on current local, county and state issues.
Mason addressed the controversial issue of the proposed borders for the new city of Peachtree Corners. He reiterated that it was the Peachtree Corners Overlay District established in 2007 that was the determining factor in drawing the city limits. Legislation was introduced at the beginning of the session in the form of H.B. 396 to allow its citizens to decide by vote to become the county's 16th city.
Still, there were questions from the audience on cityhood for this unincorporated community of some 35,000 residents, "What do we gain and what do we lose in becoming a city," asked one resident attending the meeting. "We gain legal boundaries," explained Mason, who added cityhood was a means of controlling land values and how the surrounding community is developed.
Not pursuing the conversion to cityhood, said Mason, means risking not having a means to have a say in maintaining home values. Up until now, it has been the efforts of the volunteers who head the UPCCA that have monitored the area's zoning and land use to keep Peachtree Corners' home and property values protected.
Mary Kay Murphy, GCPS's District 3 board member, addressed the 2011-12 budget. "We anticipate a short fall of $75 million," but she quickly pointed out that the school system was committed to maintaining its teaching force with the exception of part-time employees. After it's determined what the enrollment will be for the 2011-12 school year, then part-time employees will be added, she said.
Another issue that GCPS leaders are watching is the state supreme court's pending decision over funding for charter schools which is expected by the end of the month. The question, she said, is who has the authority on controlling the funds for the charter schools.
Another area of concern is the current redistricting proposal for the Duluth and Peachtree Ridge cluster of schools. The final decision is pending further review by the board which must weigh in a number of issues. She also said that the area may have to face another redistricting of the student population "in a few years."
Gwinnett County's District 2 Commissioner Lynette Howard offered a number of updates on county issues including the new Property Maintenance Ordinance that the county has in place. "Property maintenance is the No. 1 complaint I hear," said Howard. As of March 15, the new ordinance now in place will require owners of unoccupied homes to maintain the property or risk a daily fine assessed until the property has been repaired and cleaned up.
Foreclosed homes that have been taken over by the bank are the major issue, Howard said. The new ordinance gives the county the ability to go after the banks to have the property maintained. The county has also managed to erase its $18 million deficit for this year but will be facing another year of budget cuts for the next year.
State Rep. Tom Rice provided updates on legislation currently under consideration, including the pending immigration law. "The illegal population cost the state $2.5 billion a year," he said. Health care and schooling are just two of the expenses that come out of the taxpayers' pockets. "We tried to work with the federal government, but it has not enforced the immigration laws. We have a population of 9 million in Georgia and 450,000 are here illegally."
To hear Mike Mason's explanation of how the proposed city's borders were decided, please review the video posted with this article.