Communities considering associations

STONE MOUNTAIN - Instead of electing a City Council, leaders in the Stone Mountain area of Gwinnett are forming a community association in an attempt to bring glory to the once-neglected area.

But another western Gwinnett community is considering a new approach - the possibility of creating a township.

Residents of the two corners of the county are searching for identity among Gwinnett's 437 square miles, but the idea of cityhood is unlikely, leaders say.

Park Place

Living in an area with a Stone Mountain address, even though the city by the same name is located in a neighboring county, Frances Smith has talked about trying to form a city on Gwinnett southwestern border.

But now, she is working to form the Park Place Community Association.

"I do believe we can remedy a good deal of our concerns through this," said Smith, who helped convince Wal-Mart to redesign a store into a Supercenter instead of leaving the community. "I'll give it 110 percent and we'll see."

Smith said she felt that officials in many areas of county government weren't aware of the seven square miles of Stone Mountain, where residents call Gwinnett home. She said business owners were taken through the community to consider locations to the east and north.

"Our area was, and we feel like it is, the red-headed step-child of Gwinnett," she said. "We would like to revitalize and show that our area has a lot of potential. We want our area to not be a pass-through to get to Snellville and Lilburn and Lawrenceville."

Smith and neighbors have established a board for the association, and they are beginning to recruit members from local businesses, residences and churches. An information meeting has been scheduled for 7 p.m. Oct. 4 at the Mountain Park Aquatic Center to discuss the idea.

"They are trying to control their own destiny," said Commissioner Mike Beaudreau, who represents the area. "It's very exciting to see community leaders take proactive measures like this."

Peachtree Corners

In the meantime, the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association is studying the possibility of creating a township, a new model for a community now under consideration by the General Assembly.

Pat Bruschini, the president of the association, said leaders began to consider the idea when citizens came to them for help with coyotes in the subdivision.

"We are limited in manpower and financial resources," she said of the consortium of more than 35 neighborhoods north of Norcross. "Maybe we have reached the point where we are beyond volunteerism."

The township idea could take time, Bruschini said, since the state House has to consider the plan this year. If Gov. Sonny Perdue signs a bill into law, voters would then take up the idea.

But the organization has planned an Oct. 29 town hall meeting with Sen. Dan Weber and Rep. Tom Rice to learn more.

"We are very happy with the services we get from the county, but if there is a possibility for us to get a little more control or a little more identity, then we'll pursue that," she said. "There are lot of hoops we have to go through."

Members of the civic association voted more than two years against pursuing cityhood, and Bruschini said the idea has not come up again.