Sugar Hill swears in new DDA members

SUGAR HILL -- Brandon Hembree has related experience, but Nancy Wren has none.

Yet it's precisely that diversity the Sugar Hill City Council expects will enhance its Downtown Development Authority.

Sworn in at the council's monthly meeting Monday night, Hembree and Wren, Sugar Hill residents for about 10 and two years, respectively, will join Taylor Anderson as new appointees of the seven-member DDA.

A cafe owner, Wren is undaunted by her first time on a civic committee. Hembree, a principal of a government lobbying firm and former home owners association president, is excited about putting his civic experience to use.

"I'm really excited about this city's direction from a downtown perspective and helping Sugar Hill market itself as a city," Hembree said of Sugar Hill's $14 million downtown streetscape and city hall along West Broad Street between Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and Ga. Highway 20. "As the third largest city in Gwinnett County, from a downtown perspective, we've got a lot of catching up to do."

Wren, whose interest was piqued by attending quarterly DDA meetings, was urged to join the authority by patrons of her cafe.

"This neighborhood is excited about everything it wants to do and knowing in what direction it wants to go," she said.

Also appointed Monday were John McHenry and Joe Millsaps as two of the city's five Planning Commission members. McHenry is program director of the Gwinnett Village Community Improvement District and brings a masters degree in planning and 15 years of experience in municipal planning and infrastructure.

Separately, the council:

-- Swore in council members Marc Cohen and Steve Edwards for their third four-year terms and Susie Gajewski for her second.

-- Voted to move municipal court from the first Tuesday each month at 4:30 p.m. to the third Friday at 2.

-- Showed slides of the city's capital improvements, including a community garden and restrooms at Gary Pirkle Park, new baseball fields at E.E. Robinson Park and enhancements to the city golf club. Also shown were slides of the $10 million city hall complex's recently poured foundation and basement walls and nearly completed amenity pond and amphitheater.