The fate of the proposed city of Sharon Springs will be decided in May by voters living in the area.
On Monday, Gov. Nathan Deal signed House Bill 626, which provides the process for creating the proposed city. The bill was approved by the state Senate by a 46-2 vote, with four members not voting, and sent to the governor on Friday.
Those living in the area will vote on the proposed city on May 22.
District 25 state Rep. Todd Jones said rather than being for or against the proposed city, he was happy voters would get the chance to decide on the matter.
“I am happy because the process won out and this gives the citizens of south Forsyth the opportunity to have their voices heard,” Jones said. “It gives them an opportunity over the next couple of months to hopefully work together, but I also understand there will be sides.”
He added that he hoped “those sides advocate in a passionate, cordial, neighborly, fact-based way to make sure that as many people as possible get educated as possible to ensure that when they go to the ballot box on May 22 that they’re able to make an informed decision.”
The bill was previously approved by members of the state House of Representatives by 159-3 vote, with 12 members not voting, on Feb. 8. All seven members of Forsyth County’s legislative delegation voted in favor of the bill.
In October, a 12-member committee made up of representatives from each commission and state legislative district recommended allowing voters living in the area of the proposed city to vote on cityhood.
Jones said he received a good deal of positive feedback from fellow lawmakers, particularly about the committee and its report.
“I had so many people under the Gold Dome say the process that we took to examine if Sharon Springs should move forward or not, move to a vote basically, was so rigorous that they felt like they wanted to emulate if they were going to consider the creation of a municipality,” Jones said.
Voters living in the area of the proposed city will vote on cityhood in the May 22 primary. To pass, the bill will need the support of at least 57.5 percent of voters, a compromise between a simple majority and two-thirds majority.
The approximate boundaries of the proposed city are east of Ga. 400 except the portion west of McFarland Road, south of Hwy. 20 except for areas in the city of Cumming, west of the Chattahoochee River — already a boundary with Gwinnett County — and north of the Fulton County line.
If approved, Sharon Springs would begin with three services— zoning, sanitation and code enforcement— and would have a millage rate capped at .5 mills. One mill equals $1 for every $1,000 in assessed property value, which is 40 percent of the actual market value.
In recent years, Forsyth County and the Sharon Springs Alliance, a group in favor of cityhood, have commissioned a total of three studies on the proposed city.
Those in favor of the city have raised issues including zoning and representation, while those critical of the city have maintained it could lead to higher taxes throughout the county.
“I am happy to see that our system is working and our citizens will have self-determination and they can vote whether they would like to have more government,” Forsyth County Commission Chairman Todd Levent said, later adding that “[the information] tells me this is going to cost the citizens more than they think or are being told, more government or not.”