10/20: Should Peachtree Corners become a city?

Moderated by Rick Badie

Cities are popping up across metro Atlanta: Johns Creek, Sandy Springs — where next? A report will help determine whether Brookhaven should pursue cityhood.

Residents of Peachtree Corners go to the polls Nov. 8 to decide whether to become Gwinnett County’s 16th town. Today, we offer two views — one that favors incorporation of that community and one that doesn’t.

What do you think?

48 comments Add your comment

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 20th, 2011
10:36 pm

“The city-lite concept is being twisted for people who want power on the cheap. They can get County services fairly cheap because there is a large population base to maintain those services. Everything is cheaper in bulk. A fire department with 3 engines will pay more to staff/maintain them than it would cost a County to add 3 engines to a department with 30…..That’s why I say Peachtree Corners wants to have their cake and eat it too: taking advantage of available services as if they were unincorporated, yet wielding those most desired powers within their boundaries like an incorporated city.”

While the taxes would be less than then would in a full-fledged city with police and fire service, the city-light concept isn’t THAT cheap as residents of P’tree Corners would see their property taxes rise by an additional mil to pick-up zoning, code enforcement and trash pick-up capability while still continuing to pay taxes to Gwinnett County for county police and fire protection, for which all residents whether opposed to or in favor of cityhood are overall very satisfied with.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 20th, 2011
10:27 pm

Aquagirl

October 20th, 2011
9:51 pm

That quote from the article that you mention is in reference to some in P’tree Corners wanting to have full control over zoning, land use and code enforcement issues instead of letting the county commission have full control over them and can hardly can construed to be something akin to Fayette County, for example, which is actually trying to officially break apart and considers itself to be separate from the rest of Metro Atlanta and the region despite a very large proportion of its residents commuting into the city and the rest of the metro area daily.

Aquagirl

October 20th, 2011
9:51 pm

I don’t know where you got the “Peachtree Corners doesn’t want to be apart of Metro Atlanta” angle from

A quote from “Peachtree Corners Yes,” the people trying to establish this fiefdom-lite:

“In summary, we would be best served by becoming the City of Peachtree Corners, determining our own future, with our own leadership, focusing on our own priorities, within our own borders, and as cost effectively as possible.”

The city-lite concept is being twisted for people who want power on the cheap. They can get County services fairly cheap because there is a large population base to maintain those services. Everything is cheaper in bulk. A fire department with 3 engines will pay more to staff/maintain them than it would cost a County to add 3 engines to a department with 30.

That’s why I say Peachtree Corners wants to have their cake and eat it too: taking advantage of available services as if they were unincorporated, yet wielding those most desired powers within their boundaries like an incorporated city.

Sectioning off these little pieces of the metro area creates a problem for everyone. This breakaway of suburban areas which grew up BECAUSE of neighboring cities is indeed selfish. Those people would not be there without the area around them, yet they want to zone for their own local use. Our traffic is a fine example of what happens with multiple small governments in one connected area.

People who want to create another little section for themselves are jackholes. Period.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 20th, 2011
8:27 pm

Aquagirl

October 20th, 2011
7:41 pm

What are you talking about?

No one in Peachtree Corners ever said or even implied that they didn’t want to be apart of Metro Atlanta.

This basically boils down to being a competition between Peachtree Corners and Norcross over some high tax-revenue producing industrial and commercial properties, that’s it.

I don’t know where you got the “Peachtree Corners doesn’t want to be apart of Metro Atlanta” angle from when battles between counties and incorporated cities over adjoining high tax revenue-producing properties is an all-too-common fact-of-life throughout the entire metro area..

If anything the battle between the P’tree Corners neighborhood association, the City of Norcross and Gwinnett County over these properties and their tax properties proves beyond a shadow-of-a-doubt that P’tree Corners are unquestionably part of the metro area.

As for your assertion that Peachtree Corners is a suburb of Atlanta, well, duh! All 8,000-plus square miles of the Atlanta Region are suburbs of Atlanta except for the 150 or so square miles that make up the incorporated City of Atlanta.

Most of Metro Atlanta is made up of unincorporated neighborhoods in county areas and smaller incorporated cities and towns that frequently battle with each other for high tax revenue industrial and commercial properties as some incorporated cities even go so far as to incorporate the land of both sides of a major road while leaving the road itself to be maintained by the county so that the city can take in the tax revenue from the properties without being responsible for maintaining the road that the properties connect to so these little tiffs over tax revenues between neighboring cities and counties are far from unusual.

Aquagirl

October 20th, 2011
7:41 pm

a neighborhood board that wants their “opinions” on zoning and code enforcement to become legally-binding with the funding from industrial and commercial properties to do so.

Are these industrial and commercial properties owned, run, and filled with solely with residents of Peachtree Corners? Nope? Well, golly, maybe they aren’t cash cows for residents of the nearby burbs.

But then if you incorporate just enough to control those properties, man, that must be nice. All the advantages of land grabs even though you can’t maintain your own infrastructure. Sweet!

I’ll reiterate once again—-it’s a suburb of Atlanta. If people don’t want to live in Metro Atlanta, they need to friggin’ MOVE. A conglomeration of houses and strip malls that grew up around other population centers is not a city. Right now it’s looking like a nest of hungry leeches.

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 20th, 2011
5:06 pm

Aquagirl

October 20th, 2011
3:09 pm

“Nope, this is the same thing that drives NIMBY-ism—selfishness. Sectioning off your suburb is a phenomenon of gated suburbanites who want to have their cake and eat it too…. while commuting through MY neighborhood at 60 mph on residential streets.”

Nah, it’s not anything about NIMBY-ism, selfishness or sectioning off your suburb but about rather a neighborhood board that wants their “opinions” on zoning and code enforcement to become legally-binding with the funding from industrial and commercial properties to do so.

P’tree Corners doesn’t have the so-called additude of exclusivity at all as the neighborhood is built-out, much of it with multi-family dwellings, apartments, condos and townhomes with a few extended stay motels thrown it for good measure as P’tree Corners ain’t necessarily the next coming of Beverly Hills or whatever, but is still a pretty nice community to boot.

No, this is more about having the money and power to conduct legally-binding rezoning and code enforcement on abandoned shopping centers on Jimmy Carter Boulevard and bank-owned foreclosures in single-family residential neighborhoods off of East and West Jones Bridge Roads, that’s it.

And much of the community appears to be against the cityhood idea (once again as Gerald Barnes mentioned) as it will increase the property taxes of many homeowners who are struggling in a wretched economy.

Whether the cityhood idea is approved or once again rejected like before, the United Peachtree Corners Community Association will still have a strong advisory role to the county commission on zoning and code enforcement issues within its boundaries and the area will still receive police and fire service and public schools provided by Gwinnett County as the community in no way has a mindset that it is trying to distance itself or be separate from Metro Atlanta.

Boss Hawg

October 20th, 2011
4:40 pm

Damn right we need a town. Can’t let Doraville and John’s Creek get all the speeder money.
J.R.’s Log House can be City Hall.

Aquagirl

October 20th, 2011
3:09 pm

The township or “city-light” concept is a totally foreign and completely new concept to Georgia, but is very much common in Northeastern and Great Lakes states

I don’t know about the Great Lakes region, but New England was settled and organized before Georgia, I can see why townships developed there as the local government instead of the County system. I would guess the strongly-organized townships developed near the large cities of the Great Lakes, and the surrounding countryside established that form of government because it was the norm in the state.

However, that’s a far cry from modern day Metro Atlanta, which is a creature of modern transportation. This peeling-off of a township in 2011 does not compare whatsoever to a N.E. township, which may have been established before the state.

Nope, this is the same thing that drives NIMBY-ism—selfishness. Sectioning off your suburb is a phenomenon of gated suburbanites who want to have their cake and eat it too…. while commuting through MY neighborhood at 60 mph on residential streets.

Gerald Barnes

October 20th, 2011
2:02 pm

Peachtree Corners Votes Again

A few years ago the issue of incorporating Peachtree Corners into a full-fledged city was put to a vote. It was easily defeated in a general election year as a large number of people voted.

The referendum has resurfaced for another vote this November 8th as an abbreviated version of a city with limited jurisdiction (called “city light”). With this change the proponents hope it will pass in an off-year election when voter turnout is normally low.

We must assume their original goal to establish a full-fledged city remains, but, for now, they will settle for the mini version. The full-fledged city can and will be brought about later by political manipulations, of this there can be no doubt. We can rightly question why tens of thousands of dollars, maybe much more, are being spent in this effort.

I would like to respond to a mailing sent out to residents in early October by city proponents suggesting three main reasons which, they imply, should entice us to vote for making a new city, and become like Norcross, Duluth and Berkeley Lake:

1. Declining property values
2. Empty retail and commercial space
3. Poor quality of life

First of all, no credible evidence exists that these neighboring towns have higher property values, less vacant retail and commercial space, and an overall higher quality of life. What they do have is an additional layer of government for which they must pay higher taxes.

As it is, we do not have unmanageable problems. Peachtree Corners has thrived quite well because of decent residents, active home owners associations, and very good county representation. Civic involvement has been a hobby for many of our citizens. As a hobby, it is truly public service and is best to remain a hobby, which leads us to the second problem with the pro-city argument, one of motivation. I fear behind it are a few activists who would like to turn their hobby into permanent paid positions. Is it then public service, or will it become self-service?

Do we want to bear the financial burden of supporting a new class of politicians and bureaucrats? If approved, the new city will have public employee unions demanding ever-growing salaries, benefits and pensions. We will suffer significantly higher taxes.

An additional layer of government will not cause an increase in property values, bring in new businesses, or improve the quality of life. For those who believe otherwise, who place primary faith in government, and who decry their continued existence in unincorporated Peachtree Corners, well, they are free to pursue a more bureaucratic controlled “good” life in Norcross, Duluth or Berkeley Lake. Better yet, midtown Atlanta and downtown Decatur provide the major league version of incorporated city.

Peachtree Corners is a fine community. It is not broken. Therefore, it does not need to be fixed.

As a 25 year resident and business owner I will vote: NO CITY I ask you to do likewise.

Gerald Barnes

Will the last Democrat in Georgia please turn off the lights?.....

October 20th, 2011
1:36 pm

Aquagirl

October 20th, 2011
12:43 pm

I think you are kind of missing the point as the area that P’tree Corners emcompasses is actually totally and completely built-out.

The zoning issues are not about new development, but about fill-in development at this point as there is no place left within P’tree Corners for new development, just redevelopment.

This issue isn’t about breaking away from the Atlanta Region or even Gwinnett County as the county will still be providing police and fire protection and, of course, children in P’tree Corners will attend Gwinnett County Public Schools.

Tom Rice, the state representative from P’tree Corners even tried to get the State Legislature to create a township level of government which would’ve basically allowed unincorporated neighborhoods like P’tree Corners to control their own zoning and code enforcement without incorporating as a city. Since the Legislature never acted to create townships, P’tree Corners leaders acted to push for what they called “city-light” incorporation which would mean control over zoning at the neighborhood level (instead of at the county level), trash pick-up and code enforcement and retaining the industrial and commercial tax base to fund it before it is all annexed up by Norcross.

The township or “city-light” concept is a totally foreign and completely new concept to Georgia, but is very much common in Northeastern and Great Lakes states where unincorporated political subdivisions of counties (a division of government that is not quite an incorporated city or town) have control over zoning, code enforcement and in many states, schools, sanitation, police and fire protection.