Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Why I Like the City of Norcross

This blog was prompted in part by a comment from Charles to the Town Hall Meeting article. He stated, in part that “…I am so used to hearing what is wrong with Norcross...” Actually, there is a whole lot that is right with Norcross.
I know we have all watched over the years as Norcross began to reinvent itself under the guidance of Miss Lillian and Mayor Bucky and all the others who have served on the city council and development authorities. The downtown area has been transformed from non-descript and run-down to a thriving business and restaurant district. Their parks have been improved and expanded. New housing has been added and new businesses are recruited to their city.
They have been tremendously successful and have transformed the City of Norcross into a vibrant and healthy community. How did they do that? In large part, by using two of the services that the City of Peachtree Corners will provide; Planning & Zoning and Code Compliance.
Because the City of Norcross has authority within its borders, it has the right to determine the best use of the land. This is done by developing a Master Plan. In Norcross, it is the Norcross 2030 Plan. I encourage you to check it out. It is an amazing vision of the future.
Appropriate and reasonable standards for maintenance are defined. Norcross has set out specific policies and standards for Code Compliance and has communicated these clearly to their citizens. They have the power and the resources to enforce these standards within their borders, but their goal is to work toward voluntary compliance. This combination of a plan and standards allows the city to create an ambiance that will attract appropriate development and new business as well as retain existing businesses and homeowners. Home prices do not just stabilize but increase.
Now Norcross is annexing an area to the east, along Mitchell Road to I-85. I was curious about the area and drove through one early morning before dawn on my way to work. I have to confess, I did not go far before I hit the lock button. It is not the most attractive of areas. You can see more details about this annexation in the Norcross Patch series on annexation.
Why would Norcross want to annex an area like this? Some City of Norcross residents are concerned about crime in the area. But if you look at the map that is included in this presentation, the city already encompasses this area, with arms reaching around it. If we hear of crime in this area, it is attributed to Norcross. This area is already perceived as part of the city because of its proximity to the city limits. But Norcross has no authority to improve it or to have an impact on the crime in the area. Why? Because it is outside of the borders of the city. An area does not have to be part of a city to have a negative impact on the city. Conversely, pulling a troubled area into the city limits allows these issues to be addressed.
Once this area is incorporated, Norcross can use Planning & Zoning and Code Compliance to bring this area up to standard. Gwinnett County and the CID’s use Code Compliance to decrease crime. Criminals are attracted to run down areas and areas become run down where criminals live. When code enforcement is used to clean up these areas, the criminals leave and the crime rates decrease. Planning and Zoning will set up appropriate land uses which will be applied as zoning changes are requested. Long story short, if the annexation is approved by the voters in November, these areas will be reclaimed and Norcross will be enhanced.
Their success story can be our success story. The City of Peachtree Corners will be able to reduce crime in the areas where there is a high crime rate. We will be able to improve the appearance of these areas over time. We can create a vision of our future and work together to implement that vision as a true community. We will be able to first stabilize and then begin to increase home values. And we will be able to attract new businesses to our city.
That is why it is important to Vote Yes on November 8. Not because we do not like Norcross, but because we can emulate the success of Norcross right here in Peachtree Corners!