Could Freedom, Georgia become a city?
Courtesy: Kenya Sheats{p}{/p}

WILKINSON COUNTY, Ga. (WGXA) -- Freedom, Georgia is a nearly 97-acre piece of land in Wilkinson County where 19 Black families have settled with the vision of creating an innovative new community. 

Can Freedom become an actual municipality?

The short answer is yes, if the area can meet certain requirements set out by Georgia law.

RELATED STORY: 'Freedom, Georgia': Black families making safe space for Black people in Wilkinson County

According to Rusi Patel, legal council with the Georgia Municipal Association, there are basic requirements an area has to meet. 

  • community would have to cover at least one square mile
  • at least 200 people per square mile
  • 60 percent of the area has to be used for residential, industrial, commercial, and governmental needs
  • at least 60 percent of developed land has to be five acres or less in size, in other words--the area has to be densely populated

The Georgia General Assembly would then have to pass legislation to officially incorporate the area. 

"You have to have a local act in order to incorporate a municipality," says Patel. "Every city in the state of Georgia has a charter that has been granted to them by the General Assembly." 

Patel says since 2005, there have been several areas to become cities, many around the Metro Atlanta area. Once legislation is passed for a new city, the incorporated area has to provide at least three services for its citizens in order to stay an active city. 

"A new city basically has two years to get themselves up and running before that law kicks in," says Patel. "It would be somewhat unfair to grant a city its charter and then the next day say, 'Oh you're not providing three services' and take the charter away." 

Those services can be anything from law enforcement to planning and zoning. 

The city would also be required to have at least six council meetings every year, but Patel says the norm for a city is 12 meetings per year. 

And it's not a guarantee -- in recent years, the Georgia General Assembly has turned down charters. One factor that plays into the denial of a local act, is the financial outlook for that area. 

Patel explains if the General Assembly doesn't think the city will be viable and able to stand alone without issue, that area would not receive a charter. "If it's not viable, they aren't going to pursue it," he explains.

Legislators also look at the reasoning for the incorporation.

"Sometimes folks want new cities because they don't like who is elected currently, and that's not always a great reason, because you can run for office against that person if you don't like who represents you," says Patel. 

Patel says creating a new city is a tedious process. Some areas try for years, even decades, to see it done.


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