Wednesday Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation authorizing the residents of Peachtree Corners to decide by vote in November on whether their community should incorporate and become Gwinnett County's 16th city.
It was a momentous occasion for 15 people from the community who made their way to the Capitol Building to watch as the governor signed the bill. It was over in a matter of minutes but it had been a long journey for those who had put in so much effort in reaching this point.
For Mike Mason, president of the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA), an organization that represents 33 homeowners associations in the community, it was the culmination of countless hours to reach this moment.
"We've been excited all day long," said Mason. "Some had tears in their eyes. It was very emotional."
"I knew we would make it," said Ruth Strickland, a long-time resident and the former assistant to Paul Duke, the man whose vision in 1968 was to create a planned community where people could live, work and play. Duke was also involved in developing Technology Park, a 500-acre business center that will be part of the new city.
But it's only the beginning for this community of some 35,000 residents, Mason acknowledged. Now the real work begins to educate and inform the residents just what cityhood means for them.
"It's when our official history begins," said Jeanne Aulbach, a Peachtree Corners resident who witnessed the official signing of the bill.
State Rep. Tom Rice (R-Dist. 51) authored and introduced H.B. 396 when the General Assembly convened earlier this year. The city's charter specifies that the City of Peachtree Corners will have a "city lite" designation which means the new city will provide limited services which include planning and zoning, code enforcement and garbage collection. Under the charter Gwinnett County would continue to provide all other services including police and fire protection.
It's been over a half century since Gwinnett County added a new city. The City of Berkeley Lake, whose city limits will border Peachtree Corners on the northeast, was incorporated in 1956. The proposed 16th city would be the county's largest in terms of land and the largest in population.