A number of Peachtree Corners residents were alarmed to learn that a legislative bill that would move 161 businesses from the new city into the had been approved by the House and was awaiting review by the Senate.
If approved by the Senate the bill (H.B. 956) would move to Gov. Nathan Deal's office for his signature and final approval.
The controversial bill came to light just days before Peachtree Corners was to hold its first city elections March 6, 2012.
State Rep. Tom Rice, who introduced the bill explained it was to help ward of a possible lengthy and expensive lawsuit between the two cities. "The options were not good," said Rice in explaining the reason for the house bill. "The rationale was to avoid a legal battle."
The border wars between the two cities began shortly after Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation in May 2011 that would allow the citizens of the Peachtree Corners community to decide by referendum vote to become Gwinnett County's 16th city.
Berkeley Lake's city leaders, along with those from Duluth and Norcross quickly began contacting the businesses adjacent to the borders of their prospective cities to convince the owners to agree to be annexed into their cities.
Two of the cities, Duluth and Norcross, were successful in annexing some of the properties that were slated to be a part of Peachtree Corners anbd completed the annexation process before the Nov. 8, 2011 referendum vote.
Berkeley Lake, however, under advice by its city attorney, continued with its annexation efforts. Berkeley Lake's annexation efforts after the referendum had passed set up the battle between the two cities.
H.B. 956 passed the House by a 162-0 vote on March 7 and is now in the hands of the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee for review.
From Berkeley Lake's prospective, the bill is a compromise, as its leaders had to make concessions on some of the business property it wanted to include in its city. "It's for the greater good for both cities," said Berkeley Lake's mayor, Lois Salter, of the legislation. "Our city is not entirely happy with this."
The bill has not been placed on the calendar as of Thursday, March 15, but could be added early next week, according to a spokesperson in Sen. Butch Miller's office, the chairman of the State and Local Governmental Operations Committee.
When it is heard by the committee, that meeting is open to the public to allow those affected by the legislation their input on the bill.
To follow H.B. 956, visit the state's website.