Friday May 24th, 2024 8:44AM

Emergency hearing Thursday for lawsuit looking to stop city of Mulberry vote

By Caleb Hutchins Assistant News Director

With early voting wrapping up and just five days until the primary elections on May 21, an emergency hearing is scheduled for Thursday in Gwinnett County courts for a lawsuit seeking to remove the vote to create the City of Mulberry from the ballot.

The lawsuit was filed in Gwinnett County Superior Court on April 26 by Stephen Hughes. The suit alleges that the city's charter, which was approved by the state legislature and Georgia Governor Brian Kemp in February is unconstitutional.

"Voters are being misled about the charter for the proposed City of Mulberry. The very features of the proposed city being touted to the voters - like the restrictions on taxation - are the same features that are inarguably unconstitutional," the lawsuit says. "The proposed City of Mulberry's charter violates the Georgia Constitution of 1983 by unconstitutionally restricting the proposed city's power to tax."

The proposed city would occupy the northeast corner of Gwinnett County, stretching from Hall County and the Town of Braselton southward to nearly the City of Dacula. The proposal was started by Georgia House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration (R-Auburn) and State Senator Clint Dixon (R-Buford) amid concerns from citizens over increasing high-density zonings by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in the area.

Efstration called the lawsuit a desperate attempt to deny voters in the area a chance to decide the issue.

"It's very unfortunate that opponents of Mulberry, who refuse to disclose who is funding their operation, are trying to prevent voters from weighing in on this measure next Tuesday," Efstration said Wednesday afternoon. "The lawsuit was filed over two months after Governor Kemp signed the charter, and within a month of the actual election. The judge is going to rule on the issue, but ultimately, this should be put to the voters. They should have a say in the process."

Senate Bill 333, which placed the vote for cityhood on the May ballot, was not passed through the legislature without pushback from several democratic representatives, primarily from other parts of Gwinnett County.

"What I said, and what my folks said, was as long as it didn't affect me, we didn't give a hoot...But after getting what we received from (Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson)...it is going to affect the rest of the citizens of Gwinnett County," District 109 Representative Dewey McClain (D-Lawrenceville) said during a legislative hearing in February. "My folks are concerned that they don't want to pay for someone else's concerns...Where's (fire service) going to come from? They're still going to get it from Gwinnett. Where's water and sewer going to come from? It's going to come from Gwinnett County."

The hearing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Thursday with Judge Miriam Arnold-Johnson presiding.

  • Associated Categories: Homepage, Local/State News
  • Associated Tags: Gwinnett County, lawsuit, Gwinnett County Superior Court, Election 2024, city of Mulberry
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