Apr 30, 2024 - News

Gwinnett resident files lawsuit to stop Mulberry vote

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Data: City of Mulberry; Map: Erin Davis/Axios Visuals

A Gwinnett County resident on Friday filed a lawsuit seeking to block next month's referendum to create a new city.

Why it matters: Voters living within boundaries of the proposed city of Mulberry are set to decide on May 21 whether to incorporate. If approved, Mulberry would become Gwinnett's second largest city behind Peachtree Corners.

Driving the news: The complaint argues the proposed charter limits Mulberry's ability to impose taxes and restricts its ability to use powers granted through the Georgia Constitution, said Allen Lightcap, the attorney representing resident Stephen Hughes.

What they're saying: Hughes told Axios he attended a town hall last week held to inform voters about the upcoming referendum and became concerned when he learned that Mulberry's proposed charter is based on the one written for Peachtree Corners.

  • State lawmakers revised the 2012 charter for Peachtree Corners after a report prompted concerns that certain restrictions it contained, like a cap on the millage rate, could be unconstitutional.
  • "I just feel like the wool is being pulled over people's eyes, and we need to know the truth," he said.

The other side: Michael Coker, a resident and member of the Citizens for Mulberry organization, said the lawsuit is a "last, desperate attempt to stop our city at all costs."

  • "It is a shame that they are willing to take away our community members' right to vote to accomplish their goal."

The big picture: Mulberry's referendum is the latest in metro Atlanta since four cityhood proposals went to Cobb County voters in 2022.

  • Voters rejected incorporation for East Cobb, Lost Mountain and Vinings, but approved it in Mableton.

What's next: Lightcap told Axios that a judge will schedule a hearing date for the lawsuit.


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