Residents discuss turning area into municipality
By Bryan Brooks
NORCROSS - About 120 residents of the Peachtree Corners community turned out Monday night to gather information on turning their area into a city.
The meeting was held by a civic group to gauge interest in turning the area of about 15,000 residents into a municipality.
Go slow and know what you are getting into was a common theme among elected officials invited to address the audience at the Simpsonwood Retreat and Conference Center near the Chattahoochee River.
One official urged more caution than others.
State Sen. David Shafer, R-Duluth, warned that governments generally have an insatiable appetite for tax money. Also, residents of the west Gwinnett area would begin paying city taxes on top of their county taxes if the area incorporates, he said.
"I think a lot of what you want to accomplish you can accomplish without becoming a city," Shafer said.
He said he would support what ever decision is made, though.
State Sen. Dan Weber, R-Dunwoody, said he is a proponent of cities because they tend to be more responsive to citizens.
"There is no entity that is closer to the people and more accountable to them than a city," said Weber, who is taking part in efforts to create a city of Dunwoody in DeKalb County.
Still, Weber advised those in attendance that they should "go slow and start small" if they do pursue city status for their white-collar area between Norcross and the river.
Gwinnett County Commissioner Bert Nasuti, whose district includes Peachtree Corners, said cityhood doesn't make sense for the area of roughly 15,000 residents. The county already does a good job providing services, he said.
Also, he said creating a city would mean more taxes.
"I don't want to pay any more, and I don't think anybody else wants to either," said Nasuti, who lives in Peachtree Corners.
After the forum held by the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association to gauge interest in incorporation, six-year resident Jim Lutes said he remained undecided.
"The thing is go slow and make sure you don't mess up," Lutes said. "We would have to know we would gain something."
Ken Allen said he is frustrated with the amount of police and fire service provided by the county. He said he hopes talk of turning Peachtree Corners into a city will motivate the county to address those shortcomings.
"I don't think the county government is putting the emphasis on the things it should," said Allen, who has lived in Peachtree Corners since 1981.
"I think if the county government did its job, the need to become a city would be a moot point."
UPCCA will review written comments it gathered Monday night and comments left on its Web site. Ultimately, its roughly 3,000 dues-paying members will vote in coming weeks on what step to take next, if any, said UPCCA President Lynette Howard.