The proposed city of Sharon Springs took a big step toward becoming a reality this week.
On Thursday, House Bill 626, which provides the process for creating the city, passed the Georgia House of Representatives by a vote of 159-3, with 12 members not voting and six excused. All members of the Forsyth County delegation voted in favor of the bill.
“I think in many ways it was a validation of the process we’ve taken, and I appreciated that support from the members of the House,” said District 25 state Rep. Todd Jones, who introduced the bill in 2017. “I believe that the process that we took was a comprehensive process that was going to produce, and did produce, what I thought was a very even study or recommendation report out to the Forsyth County citizens.”
Jones said he gave an overview of the bill and the process to members of the House.
“I basically presented the bill to the House and went through a series of different items about the bill, giving the members an understanding of not just what the bill would do in terms of creating a referendum for the city of Sharon Springs, but also giving them context in terms of the size of Forsyth County and also the size of the single city of Cumming.”
Jones said he also told members the bill was supported by the local House delegation and the work of the 12-member study committee formed by representatives of all county commissioners. He also detailed the potential referendum taking at least 57.5-percent support of voters to pass.
“For Forsyth County, I feel a 51 [percent to] 49 [percent vote] would not rip the Band-Aid off the way that we envisioned this potential referendum doing,” he said. “Which means, we’re either going to have it or not going to have it, but either way, it will be decisive in terms of yes or no.”
Last week, the bill passed the House’s governmental affairs subcommittee and regular committee.
The bill will next go to the state Senate.
“The Senate will basically start from scratch and start going through committee,” Jones said. “If it makes it through committee, it will go to rules. Then, if it makes it through rules, it will go to the floor of the Senate.”
Jones said the process would start Monday morning but he did not know how long it would take.
In October, the study committee recommended allowing voters living in the area of the proposed city to vote on cityhood. Only voters in the area of the proposed city will be able to vote on cityhood.
Before reaching voters, the bill will need to be approved by the Georgia General Assembly and signed by Gov. Nathan Deal. If passed, a referendum would be held on May 22.
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.