Mulberry: Gwinnett’s Potential 17th City Spurs Debate

January 24, 2024
1 min read
Mulberry: Gwinnett's Potential 17th City Spurs Debate

🔍 The Gist: Legislation for a new city named Mulberry in northeastern Gwinnett County, Georgia, has sparked a mix of support and opposition. Advocates highlight local control over planning and zoning, while critics fear it could disrupt Gwinnett County’s service delivery and existing city agreements.

📰 The Details: House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration and State Sen. Clint Dixon proposed Senate Bill 333 to establish Mulberry, encompassing about 25.9 square miles with approximately 41,000 residents. A study by the KB Advisory Group deemed the city financially viable without a city property tax. The bill aims to give local residents more say in zoning and planning decisions, currently under the Gwinnett County Commission’s purview.

Opposition comes from figures like State Sen. Nikki Merritt and the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners, concerned about the impact on county-wide service provision and diversity. They fear that Mulberry’s creation, akin to the contested Buckhead cityhood movement, could affect Gwinnett County and its 16 existing cities financially and operationally.

The Latest: The Gwinnett County Commission passed a resolution urging careful consideration of the proposed city of Mulberry, highlighting potential service disruption and financial impacts on the county and its 16 cities.

📊 By The Numbers:

  • Proposed city area: 25.9 square miles.
  • Population: Approximately 41,000 residents.
  • Initial budget: $9.4 million, funded by franchise fees, permits, and alcohol sale.

🌐 In Context: Gwinnett County officials are cautious about the potential new city’s impact on the county’s robust service model. County Chairwoman Nicole Love Hendrickson emphasized the county’s planning and fiscal responsibility in response to the proposal.

The county’s 2024 budget, totaling $2.5 billion, focuses on infrastructure, sustainability, and community health, showing a commitment to addressing the county’s growing needs.

🎯 More Context: Separatist movements like this tend to crop up with race as an underlying factor in response to changing demographics in an area. This was apparent in the cityhood movements in North Fulton County, DeKalb, and most recently in Cobb County, as well as the movement for Milton County several years ago.

In this instance, Hendrickson, who was elected in 2020, is the county’s first African American Chairwoman.

📣 Why It Matters: Mulberry’s potential creation raises broader questions about local governance, community representation, and the balance between regional unity and localized decision-making. As Gwinnett County evolves, the outcome of this debate will shape its political landscape and service delivery models.

🗳️ What’s Next?: The bill’s progress through the Georgia Legislature and the response from Gwinnett County officials and residents will be crucial in determining Mulberry’s future. Public hearings and additional debates are expected as stakeholders weigh in on this significant local governance issue.

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