Census: Suwanee adds most people of Gwinnett cities

LAWRENCEVILLE - Jim Hinkle thinks the Census is always behind.

The bureau thinks Grayson added 89 people between 2005 and 2006, but the city's mayor said that number seems low.

"The Census is a day late and a dollar short," he said. "We're growing by leaps and bounds. Assuming the real estate market doesn't tank, we're going to double our population in three years."

According to Census data released today, Gwinnett's cities added 6,123 new residents between 2005 and 2006. Suwanee, with 1,472 new residents, had the largest increase. It also notched the largest percentage growth in the county, increasing its population more than 11 percent over 2005.

Suwanee Mayor Nick Masino said Gwinnett's cities have always been the fabric of the county. He expects them to continue to grow and said many of Suwanee's additional residents are the result of well-planned growth.

"We're an incredibly well-planned community," he said. "I think we're the poster child for well-planned growth."

Of the county's 15 cities, only Rest Haven failed to add a new resident between 2005 and 2006. Its growth has remained largely stagnant since the last Census in 2000, when 148 people lived in the city. Now, that number is 147.

Lilburn, with a rate increase of 1.1 percent, had the lowest increase by percentage. It added 121 new residents. Dacula, with 30 new people, had the lowest numerical increase. Its growth rate was 6.7 percent.

Duluth Mayor Shirley Lasseter, whose city added 1,339 new residents for a 5.5 percent growth rate, said she thinks that is probably an average increase for the city.

Lasseter said when she first came to office more than a decade ago, Duluth was the fastest-growing city in the fastest-growing county in the state. Since then, she has been cognizant of growth in the area and worked to manage it, she said.

"When we stop growing, it's a whole different set of problems," Lasseter said. "If it was all people, no commercial, I would be very unhappy with that. You have to have balance."

Hinkle, Grayson's mayor, said he didn't know whether new people were a good or bad thing for the city.

But he did say the added population has had an impact on the city and the things he has to deal with.

"It's just the way it is. It brings a lot of people and it brings a lot of changes," Hinkle said. "We're doing our best to manage the growth to keep Grayson still the friendly place it's always been. It's getting harder and harder."