Atlanta/ Politics & Govt
AI Assisted Icon
Published on June 12, 2024
Gwinnett County Resident Files Lawsuits Challenging the Formation of New City of MulberrySource: Unsplash/ Glen Carrie

Stephen Hughes, a resident of Gwinnett County, is trying to stop Mulberry from becoming a city. Even though voters in the area supported the idea, he's filed lawsuits claiming it's unconstitutional. His main focus right now is on delaying the city council elections scheduled for November.

Hughes's concern, disseminated through the arguments of his attorney Allen Lightcap, touches upon the State Bill's infringement upon the Georgia Supreme Court's past prohibition against cities that cannot levy a property tax. "The General Assembly can only regulate a city's constitutional authority to tax through general law, not local law. SB 333 is plainly a local law, so its restrictions on taxation must be immediately struck down," Lightcap stated. The second lawsuit also alleges that the Senate bill unlawfully coerces Mulberry into affirmatively employing some of its Home Rule powers, as reported by FOX5 Atlanta.

The genesis of Mulberry's cityhood can be traced back to bipartisan support within the legislature and the subsequent signature from Gov. Brian Kemp in February. State Sen. Clint Dixon, one of the driving forces behind the vote, positioned the city as a response to out-of-control growth and traffic woes. "Constitituents here in the area - they were concerned about the out-of-control growth," Dixon expressed to FOX5 Atlanta. With the city's establishment, just over 4,500 voters, making up 57% of the poll-goers, anticipated a new chapter of local governance.

Supporters of the Mulberry proposition underline the benefits of enhanced local control and representation – a sentiment echoed by State Rep. Chuck Efstration. "You'd have a greater opportunity to be heard. Local control is really important. Neighbors, folks you know would be representing you on city council," Efstration told FOX5 Atlanta. Potential residents of Mulberry, like Steve Zheng, share this enthusiasm for the power shift, viewing the onset of local governance as a rebirth of sorts for their community.

Conversely, opponents question the long-term repercussions of such a referendum, where the true outcomes remain speculative. Mike Rogers, a skeptic, craves substantiated promises rather than projections on how these changes will tangibly affect his life. "The proof is in the pudding for me," Rogers mused. They can tell me a lot of things, but a year from now what does it mean? How does it impact us?" he argued, gesturing at the gravity of such governance reforms.