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Deal signs bill to put Peachtree Corners' fate on ballot

Special Photo
 Gov. Nathan Deal signs the bill forwarding the creation of the city of Peachtree Corners to voters in November. 

Special Photo Gov. Nathan Deal signs the bill forwarding the creation of the city of Peachtree Corners to voters in November. 

ATLANTA — The emotion was evident, as Gov. Nathan Deal took up his pen, granting his go-ahead for the possible formation of Gwinnett’s newest city.

“Some people had tears in their eyes. It was a nice moment,” Mike Mason said of witnessing Deal sign a bill forwarding the creation of the city of Peachtree Corners to voters in November. “We’ve been excited for quite some time. … You feel your chest lift and sigh and say, ‘Now on to the next step.’”

Wednesday’s bill signing was one of the last major steps in the long-awaited formation of what could become Gwinnett’s largest city.

Mason, who heads the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association, a conglomerate of 33 homeowners associations in the western Gwinnett community, said he and fellow proponents will now begin a major public education campaign. But following in the steps of the recent formations of Sandy Springs, Dunwoody and other nearby governments, many people have been supportive, he said, especially since Gwinnett County officials do not oppose the idea.

“They didn’t really want all the services of other cities because Gwinnett County does provide an abundance of good services, particularly police and fire,” said Rep. Tom Rice, a Peachtree Corners resident who steered the bill through the General Assembly.

For several years, Rice and others studied possibilities on how to form the government, settling on a “city lite” version that only provides three services — solid waste, planning and development and code enforcement — and limiting taxes to 1 mil (about $120 a year for a $300,000 house).

Rice said he talked to Deal prior to Wednesday’s ceremony, filling the governor in on the community built decades ago as one of the first live-work-play centers.

“We’re trying to enhance that (character) and make it possible to continue,” Rice said, adding that Deal believed Gwinnett has so many cities that adding a 16th would not be burdensome.

County Commissioner Lynnette Howard, who lives in the community, said she was excited to witness the bill signing and see the proposal move forward.

“It’s a wonderful feeling. I’m still on Cloud nine,” she said. “That was a lot of work from a lot of people just coming together. … This will be a unique new city in cooperation with the county, and I’m excited to be a part of it.”