A citizens group is gaining ground on its efforts to incorporate the community of Peachtree Corners. And before the end of 2011 its residents may have a chance to vote on the issue. If approved, Peachtree Corners would become the county's 16th city.
Spearheading the efforts are members of the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA), an organization made up of some 30 homeowner associations representing more than 34,000 residents.
According to the timeline presented by UPCCA president Mike Mason, the citizens could be voting by next fall if the city's charter gets the approval of the General Assembly during the 2011 session.
It's been a movement that has hit some bumps along the way, with some residents concerned over the cost and the need to create a city that would end up duplicating services they are already receiving from the county.
To avoid the expensive cost of services such as maintaining a separate police force, UPCCA leaders are recommending a "city lite" designation which would provide a few key services such as zoning, code enforcement and garbage pickup but keep other services such as fire and police protection in place.
"A city lite designation is a legal city," pointed out Mason, speaking before some 150 homeowners at a UPCCA meeting held last month. He said that with an increase of up to 1 millage to the county's taxes, the additional revenue would pay for the cost of maintaining the city. A study provided by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia indicates that a city lite designation could generate enough revenue to pay for basic costs including elections and administrative expenses for the new city.
The plan is endorsed by Gwinnett County District 2 Commissioner-Elect Lynette Howard, a Peachtree Corners resident for the past 16 years, who has been involved in the civic organization since 1997.
"We're not Norcross, we're not Berkeley Lake, we're Peachtree Corners," said Howard. Cityhood would provide that sense of identity -- and along with that -- official recognition by the U.S. Post Office. Currently the unincorporated area uses Norcross as its mailing address.
The idea of an incorporated Peachtree Corners isn't new. First established in 1993 in response to concerns of the use of land, a group of homeowners joined together to form UPCCA.
"The genesis for the thing started when Norcross was going to annex a portion of Technology Park," explained state Rep. Tom Rice, (R-Norcross). "Everybody here is content with the services Gwinnett County provides but wants to preserve the nature of Peachtree Corners." Rice represents Peachtree Corners as well as a portion of Norcross and is a resident of the unincorporated area.
UPCCA meetings are open to everyone and are held approximately six times a year. The association's website (www.upcca.org) provides updates and dates and times for upcoming meetings. The group meets at the Christ the King Lutheran Church on Peachtree Parkway.