In 1968, Paul Duke established Peachtree Corners, Inc. with the goal of creating a planned community where people could live, work, and play. He envisioned a campus of low-rise buildings housing low-pollution, high technology industries to be called Technology Park/Atlanta. He coaxed top developers to work within a stringent set of covenants to assure high quality commercial and residential standards. Long considered a model for successful development, today the prosperous Peachtree Corners community of homes, schools, parks and businesses faces a significant challenge.
Recently, Norcross proposed the annexation of a large portion of Technology Park/Atlanta, traditionally considered part of Peachtree Corners. When the United Peachtree Corners Civic Association (UPCCA) strongly opposed the annexation, the Norcross city leadership was surprised. To them, unincorporated Peachtree Corners was simply a collection of subdivisions and Technology Park, and an available source of tax revenue.
To us, losing Technology Park meant letting Norcross control zoning decisions impacting property values in the heart of Peachtree Corners. Our local county commissioner has no input into Norcross zoning decisions, and UPCCA’s watch dog role on land use issues would be lost. More fundamentally, the essential “work” element of the Peachtree Corners planned community would be significantly altered. But without legal boundaries defining our borders, what other conclusion was Norcross to draw? Although the annexation was prevented, we realized that Peachtree Corners was at a tipping point.
UPCCA had debated for years whether Peachtree Corners should become a city. The argument to become a city was always countered by the expected high cost of incorporation, leaving us at the status quo. Now the recent threat of annexation has refocused our attention on the future. How do we control our own quality of life without the possibly costly burden of a city? The answer is a Planning District.
A Planning District is a completely new form of government organization. It must be created by the General Assembly, enacted by the Gwinnett County Commission, and then approved by a majority of the registered voters in Peachtree Corners. The proposed legislation would establish legal boundaries and give Peachtree Corners citizens responsibility for land use, zoning, and code enforcement. All other government services would continue to be provided by the county.
The legislation would also allow an estimated half (0.5) mil tax increase (about $20 per year per $100,000 value of your home) primarily to fund zoning control and land use planning as well as signage and beautification of roadways and green space. Once enacted, the County Commission would appoint a five member Board, four Peachtree Corners residents and one representative of the commercial properties in the district. Our legislators will introduce this proposal in the 2010 session of the General Assembly.
Now over 40 years old, Peachtree Corners is at a tipping point. We can either plan our own future or we can allow others to determine it for us. UPCCA believes that a Planning District offers the best opportunity for legal borders and control of quality of life issues, but without the costly duplication of county services. The choice is ours.