Monday July 22nd, 2024 12:50PM

New Gwinnett County city set for the ballot amid host of local elections

By AccessWDUN Staff

Voters will have the opportunity Tuesday to cast their ballot in favor or against the adoption of a new city within Gwinnett County known as Mulberry.

In an effort spearheaded by Georgia House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration (R-Auburn) and State Senator Clint Dixon (R-Buford), Mulberry has quickly become a topic of debate among residents of Northeast Gwinnett County.

Previously proposed as “The City of Mill Creek,” efforts to adopt Mulberry as a municipality began late last year and have since continued as the bill allowing it on a voter’s ballot has successfully crept its way through both the Georgia House and Senate.

Efstration cites his motivation in support of Mulberry as a need to control the rampant growth and development seen throughout the area.

“The idea here is that local government that's closest to the people can be most responsive,” Efstration said. “If a council member has a constituency of less than 10,000 residents, there's a chance for you to easily get in touch with that council member to express your concerns or your support for any proposal, and for the process to be streamlined. In many ways, this will take away the responsibility that county government currently has in that area.”

Additional concerns in support of Mulberry include gridlocked traffic and teeming school systems.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners in January asked lawmakers to double back and consider the impacts of creating a new city.

"Incorporation without careful consideration of the proposed city’s structure and service delivery impacts as well as the revenue and taxation impacts could negatively impact the ability of the proposed city, Gwinnett County and the 16 existing cities to provide services to all residents and businesses of the county," a release issued by the county said.

Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Nicole Hendrickson similarly expressed concerns with how residents of the new city would receive services like water, sewage and trash removal, as currently those services are provided through the county.

In early February, Senate Bill 333 passed at a vote of 30 to 18.

"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 on WDUN’s The Drive at 5. "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."

Maps shown online indicate Mulberry 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 the borders of Gwinnett County.

Dixon previously noted that Mulberry would operate similarly to the southwest Gwinnett County city of Peachtree Corners. 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.

Several days after passing in the Senate, Bill 333 successfully passed in the Georgia House of Representatives with a vote of 101 to 63. On Feb. 13, Governor Kemp signed Senate Bill 333, allowing it a place on the May 21 ballot.

Gwinnett County commissioners and some members of the Gwinnett legislative delegation have expressed opposition to the push to create Mulberry. One of the main issues they have cited is the potential financial impact on the rest of the county.

Late last week, Gwinnett County Judge Tadia Whitner ruled in favor of keeping the measure on the ballot after an emergency hearing in a lawsuit brought forward by Stephen Hughes. The suit alleged that the proposed city's charter was unconstitutional since it did not allow for the city to levy taxes.

Judge Whitner's decision came after Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr filed an opinion to the court arguing that the lawsuit was improperly filed. Carr said in that filing that the vote should move forward.

If voters choose to adopt the City of Mulberry on Tuesday, the city’s residents will be able to vote for their city council during the election cycle in November, according to officials.

  • Associated Categories: Election 2024
  • Associated Tags: Gwinnett County, Voting, election day, vote, mulberry
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