Before Peachtree Corners new mayor and council are even seated legislation has been introduced that will carve out portions of what was meant to be part of Peachtree Corners and annex it into the .
State Rep. Tom Rice (Dist. 51) will introduce House Bill 956 on Monday, Feb. 27, which will annex 161 properties that were to be a part of Peachtree Corners into the City of Berkeley Lake.
It's all part of a settlement of sorts between the neighboring cities. Since May 11, 2011 when Gov. Nathan Deal signed legislation allowing Peachtree Corners voters to decide by referendum vote on cityhood, the surrounding cities of Norcross, Duluth and Berkeley Lake began contacting businesses adjacent to their borders about annexation.
Prior to the Nov. 8 referendum vote Norcross annexed four businesses and Duluth 13. Duluth annexed parcels in the Blue Ridge Industrial Park bordering on Berkeley Lake.
Berkeley Lake's leaders had contacted a number of companies in the business park to the east of Peachtree Industrial Boulevard and had begun the process of annexing a number of those businesses. City leaders continued their efforts after the referendum vote on Nov. 8. By December it had 55 businesses identified that agreed to become a part of Berkeley Lake.
Berkeley Lake's annexation efforts did not sit well with a number of Peachtree Corners leaders who realized with no established government to go to bat for the city, they were powerless to stop the annexations.
The new House Bill that Rice has introduced clearly defines exactly what businesses will be annexed into Berkeley Lake and what will remain in the new city of Peachtree Corners. State Sen. David Shafer, who represents Berkeley Lake, worked with Rice on seeking an amicable solution.
"House Bill 956 seeks to reestablish the border between Berkeley Lake and Peachtree Corners," explained Rice. "It acknowledges the preferences of the majority of commercial property owners who wished to be included in Berkeley Lake by annexation. It also acknowledges the wishes of many leaders in Peachtree Corners to have the Gwinnett County Parks and Aquatic Center on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard remain in Peachtree Corners.
Rice said that Peachtree Corners revenue base (based on a maximum one mil) "would be reduced in tax revenue approximately $40,000 via this bill."
Rice said that"given the fact that the resolution of the Berkeley Lake annexation would likely have gone to court at great cost to both cities and with no sure resolution, House Bill 956 appears to provide the most agreeable solution."
Berkeley Lake's mayor, Lois Salter, said that it had been the city's intention to add businesses to its city as it realized that it was important to have a tax base that included both residential and commercial properties.
In a statement made last fall when Berkeley Lake annexed 17 new businesses through legislation, Salter said, "It is much healthier for a city to have a broader and more balanced tax base that includes many types of properties rather than having such a preponderance of residential property.
"Owners of annexed business properties will benefit from not having to pay stormwater utility fees and business owners operating on those properties will benefit from paying lower business license fees and occupational taxes in Berkeley Lake."
Since its incorporation as a city in 1956, Berkeley Lake has consisted primarily of residential property. In 2009 when the record rains damaged the city's dam, city leaders realized the importance of broadening its tax base. The additional business properties will help provide the additional tax revenue to the city.
Rice said that the bill should pass through the house and senate and be on the governor's desk for his signature by the end of April. Peachtree Corners officially begins operation as a city on July 1, 2012.
Editor's note: Lois Salter was not available for comment for this story, the comments attributed to her were published in an earlier story dated Sept. 26, 2011.