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Will the proposed Mulberry incorporation push be the next Buckhead?

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(The Center Square) — Some Georgia Republicans want to create a new city in unincorporated northeastern Gwinnett County, but at least one Democrat says this is tantamount to the next Buckhead cityhood movement.

House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration, R-Auburn, and state Sen. Clint Dixon, R-Gwinnett, announced legislation, Senate Bill 333, to create Mulberry, saying a study from Atlanta-based KB Advisory Group found that the city would be “financially feasible” without implementing a city property tax. Efstration’s office retained KB Advisory Group to analyze the potential fiscal feasibility of the new city.

The proposed city would cover roughly 25.9 square miles and have about 41,000 residents.

“Currently, planning and zoning decisions in the proposed City of Mulberry are being made by the Gwinnett County Commission — where each commissioner represents nearly a quarter of a million residents,” Dixon said in an announcement. “If the City of Mulberry is created, zoning decisions in our region will be made by locally elected city council members who will each answer to less than 8,000 residents — dramatically increasing the ability of residents to make their voices heard by elected officials.”

City incorporation movements have been hit or miss in Georgia in recent years. While voters rejected cityhood proposals in East Cobb, Lost Mountain and Vinings in May 2022, voters agreed to create the city of Mableton in November 2022.

However, state Sen. Nikki Merritt, D-Grayson, said the move would create a city similar to the proposed Buckhead City. Last year, the Georgia Senate voted against a bill that would have allowed residents to vote to create a separate Buckhead City from a portion of Atlanta.

“Republicans want to create a Buckhead city-style government in Gwinnett through Mulberry city hood, with no feasibility or economic study for the rest of Gwinnett county,” Merritt said in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter. “We oppose this bill for the sake of inclusion, equity, and our communities’ diversity.”

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