In a Sunday afternoon ceremony before friends, family, civic leaders and dignitaries, Peachtree Corners first city council was sworn-in during a special ceremony that took place in the Hunnicut Ballroom of the .
Over 300 witnessed the city's new mayor and six council members as each came forward and took the oath of office. The Honorable Warren P. Davis, Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge, officiated.
For this community of some 38,000 it was a culmination of a journey as its citizens watched the process unfold. First as legislation made its way to Gov. Nathan Deal's desk last May for his signature, to the passage of the referendum on Nov. 8, 2011 by voters then to the campaigns of 19 who eagerly threw their hats in the ring to run for office.
It was April 3 before the city's first council was decided making the drama of watching a new city unfold seem to last forever. But now the end is in sight. In just 75 days, at the stroke of midnight on the last day of June, Peachtree Corners will officially become a city.
No longer will the southwest corner of the county be known only as "unincorporated Norcross" - it will stand on its own as Gwinnett County's largest city.
"Sometimes we have to pinch ourselves," said Debbie Mason, wife of the city's first mayor, Mike Mason, recalling the early process of weighing the pros and cons of cityhood and mapping out a plan to make it happen. "I remember sitting around the kitchen table talking about this," she said.
And in a relatively short period of time, the process unfolded and the city of Peachtree Corners is now standing on the threshold of its future.
"We're starting on a new path," said long-time resident Nancy Minor who along with her husband Sid Minor was on hand to witness the historic moment.
"It's history in the making," said Mark Willis, who attended along with his wife Wendy Willis. "What an exciting day to be able to witness the birth of our new city."
But not all in this new town was convinced a year ago that cityhood was a good idea. Bob and Tanya Martell were both against the idea and campaigned hard to keep their community as an unincorporated part of the county.
But the couple said they have accepted and are embracing cityhood. "We're all one team now," said Tanya Martell. "We're excited about the vision for the city."
"It was a good day," agreed Bob Martell, but as one of the disenters of cityhood, he said he will remain a part of a watch dog group to ensure the new city leaders keep their campaign promises.
The vision is a unique one. The Peachtree Corners city charter spells out that it will only be responsible for managing and providing three of the services to its citizens, Planning and Zoning, Code Enforcement and Solid Waste Pick up. Gwinnett County will continue providing the remaining services including police and fire protection and operating the county's parks located in the city limits.
By limiting the city to three services, the cost to taxpayers is considerably lower than what most living in one of the other 15 Gwinnett County cities pay in taxes. Leaders project that the franchise fees collected and up to 1 mil in property taxes will be more than enough to pay for operating the city.
Now the mayor and the six council members will roll up their sleeves and begin the process of building a new city from scratch.
Peachtree Corners first city council meeting is scheduled for Tuesday, April 17 at 7:30 p.m. at Christ the King Lutheran Church. All are invited to attend.
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