A longtime resident of Conyers, Joe Mezzanotte saw how fast growth affected that area, especially with traffic.
He wants to do his part as a Flowery Branch resident — and new City Council member — to ensure growth doesn’t overrun the South Hall town.
“It’ll be interesting to see how successful we can be in balancing everything,” Mezzanotte said, looking ahead to his new term.
The Wisconsin native sat down with The Times last week to talk a little about his history and what he’d like to do on the council, following his March 15 election to the Post 2 seat. Mezzanotte replaced Ed Asbridge, who now serves as mayor, and his term ends Dec. 31, 2023.
Mezzanotte, 72, left Wisconsin for New Jersey on a track scholarship to Princeton University, where he would earn an engineering degree.
He ended up in a career running manufacturing plants throughout the U.S., a job that would demand much of his time. Recalling one stint, he said, “I’d be lucky if I was home two weekends a month.”
Mezzanotte retired in 2007, continuing to work as a consultant. He left Conyers for Flowery Branch in 2018 to be closer to his daughter’s family.
Not long after settling in Sterling on the Lake, he became involved with the homeowners association’s board.
“I helped to stabilize the financial plan and worked hard to control the issues being caused by the buildout of some of the final phases of the neighborhood,” Mezzanotte said.
He said he has “spent a lot of time downtown going over some of the records and everything,” he said. “The more I looked into it, the more I said, ‘I think I have experiences that can help,’ and I’ve got the time.”
As he leaned toward a City Council run, he also considered his own professional background.
Mezzanotte said he believes his engineering degree and career experience in building, relocating and running major manufacturing operations had given him “the technical and financial background to understand and manage large programs and budgets.”
He comes onto the council at a pivotal time.
The city is expanding its sewer plant, adding capacity to stay ahead of the growth, and making water system improvements, as well as sprucing up downtown with a new farmers market pavilion, parking and parks.
“I strongly believe that controlling growth is more than just selecting the right projects,” he said in an earlier interview. “Once the City Council approves a project, it needs to be carried out according to the committed plan, within regulations, and without causing physical damage to neighboring properties.”
Easing traffic congestion must also be considered, such as more left-turn lanes on busy roadways.
“I’m thinking people want Flowery Branch to be a place where people want to live, as opposed to a totally commercial/industrial area with a small downtown,” he said.
“We need to take advantage of our location close to the lake and be a destination.”