Top Norcross Government Stories of 2012

The tobacco ban, Family Dollar rezoning and city council election are just a few things that made the Patch list.

What are some of the top government stories for 2012 in the greater Norcross area? Here's a compilation of the big ones.

Annexation: The annexation of land east of Buford Highway may have passed last year, but it didn't take effect until Jan. 1, 2012. Roughly along Mitchell Road, the newer part of the city brought in new businesses and thousands of new residents, and it also increased the city's size from 4.2 square miles to 6.14 square miles. 

Family Dollar Rezoning: A Family Dollar was being proposed near a residential area of Beaver Ruin Road at the beginning of the year, but in order for the store to move in, the city would have had to rezone the area for general business use. After hearing concerns and disapproval from many residents, the council voted against it.

The Tobacco Free Initiative: A city law that would ban tobacco use on any city property including sidewalks, the Tobacco Free Initiative was approved by the council 3-1 in May, only to be repealed two months later after many residents and business owners spoke out against it. 

Norcross City Council Election: With terms ending Dec. 31, Mayor Pro Tem Andrew Hixson and councilmen Ross Kaul and David McLeroy ran for re-election this year to keep their seats. Super-volunteer Arlene Beckles ending up running against McLeroy, former councilman and 45 South Cafe owner Keith Shewbert opposed Kaul, and Hixson had no competition. McLeroy and Shewbert gained a majority of votes in their respective races.

Millage Rate Holds Steady: The council approved to keep Norcross' millage rate at 6.424, the same as the 2011 rate.

LCI Study: The council passed the Livable Centers Initiative study, which was finalized and unveiled to the public in late May. The study is an update to the city's 2001 LCI study, and it reccomends what the city should do according to land use, transportation and urban design over the next 20 years.

Adding More Downtown Parking: In the second half of the year, two parking plans were proposed to the council. Some councilmembers didn't believe adding parking spaces was a priority, and the issue brought much debate in the meetings. In the end, an 18-parking lot plan at Norcross City Hall was approved, but it has not been constructed yet.

Digital Reader Board: It was originally proposed to the council that the city should replace its current reader board on Jones Street with a digital LED sign, but similar to the parking issue, some councilmembers were against it for multiple reasons. After months of discussion, the council decided to combine the proposal with adding LED signs to two gateway signs on Holcomb Bridge. No decisions have been made yet on the proposal.

Repaving Skin Alley: After months of construction, the downtown alleyway is now more appealing with a wider road, paver bands, brick pavement and new concrete, matching the surrounding streets. The Skin Alley Block Project is expected to finish in February or March 2013, but the Downtown Development Authority also plan to add even more upgrades next year.

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