Sunday April 14th, 2024 10:01AM

Senate bill to create city of Mulberry passes, headed to state house

By Caleb Hutchins Assistant News Director

A Georgia State Senate bill that would create a new city in northeast Gwinnett County has passed and is now heading to the state's House of Representatives.

Senate Bill 333 seeks to incorporate the city of Mulberry and was sponsored by District 45 Senator Clint Dixon (R-Buford) and District 48 Senator Shawn Still (R-Norcross). It passed by substitute in the Senate by a 30-18 vote Thursday afternoon.

If the bill passes the state house, it would then go to Governor Brian Kemp's desk. If approved there, residents in the area proposed to become Mulberry would vote on the measure during the May primary election.

House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration (R-Auburn) has been one of the leaders of a push in the state legislature to create a new city. He said he was happy to see the Senate bill pass.

“I want to thank Senator Dixon for his tireless efforts to get this legislation across the finish line in the Senate,” said Majority Leader Efstration. “Our constituents are now one step closer to gaining local control over the future of our community without having to pay city property taxes.”

Senator Dixon spoke the day prior to the vote on WDUN's "The Drive at 5" and said the push to create Mulberry started with concerns from area residents about high-density zonings being created by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.

"Commissioners that do not represent that area, from other parts of the county were actually out-voting (District 4 Commissioner Matthew Holtkamp) and approving those zonings," Dixon said. "Leader Efstration and I got involved and the community asked what could be done. From a legislative perspective, it would be to get more local control by creating a city."

According to maps shown on a website created by supporters of the new city, it would encompass an area from the Hall County line and the Town of Braselton southward to nearly the city limits of Dacula. The city would be located entirely within borders of Gwinnett County.

In the week prior to the Senate vote, Gwinnett commissioners approved a resolution urging lawmakers to consider the potential negative consequences of creating the city. Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson also sent a letter to the Gwinnett delegation of the state legislature outlining the potential negative impacts from the city's creation.

Among those, county officials said Mulberry's creation could cost the county over $9 million in revenue. Senator Dixon said he believes the county's losses would not be that significant.

"There would be an intergovernmental agreement, a service provider agreement between the county and the city. That can't be done until the city is formed and the city council is elected. Once that happens, they could negotiate those terms and they would pay for services...I would argue (the county's losses) would be substantially lower than the $9 million that the county's projecting," Dixon said. "The budget for Gwinnett County is $2.5 billion. We're talking about $9 million, you're talking about less than one percent."

Dixon said so far, he's received mostly positive feedback to the city's formation from residents in the area.

"We've had three town halls between Christmas and New Years and we also did a telephone town hall as well, so we've had a good bit of community outreach," Dixon said. "Overwhelmingly, we've had strong support for the city."

Dixon said, if created, Mulberry would operate similarly to the southwest Gwinnett County city of Peachtree Corners. He said the city would not have police, fire or garbage services, outsourcing those to Gwinnett County, but would handle zoning, code enforcement and stormwater runoff services.

Dixon said the city's current charter would create a five-member city council with districts representing 7,000 to 9,000 residents each. He also said no additional taxes would be levied against residents of Mulberry.

 

To hear more from State Senator Clint Dixon, click play on the audio above.

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  • Associated Tags: wdun, Gwinnett County, Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, Georgia politics, Georgia State Senate, Clint Dixon, Georgia State House of Representatives, city of Mulberry
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