The majority of lands in the city limits (the 700-acre Berkeley Lake Properties) was developed by Frank Coggins in the late 1940s. The dam, constructed in 1948, is one of the largest earthen dams in the state. The city's namesake, Lake Berkeley (88 acres), was named after Mr. Coggins' Berkeley Blue Granite Quarries in Elberton, Georgia. In 1950, the Berkeley Lake Estates "subdivision," which included five reserved Free Pass and Repass tracts (FPR) and the residential and fishing lots around the lake, was laid out. In 1952, Calvin and Kate Parsons, along with John and Dorothy Bagwell, purchased the Berkeley Realty and Investment Company and its 700-acre property.
For many years, Lake Berkeley was primarily a summer retreat, with an assortment of fishing cottages mingling with a slowly growing number of permanent homes. The health of the lake was guarded by a small, but tenacious, core of residents, each lending their expertise and time.
Creation of the Municipality
In 1953, some 25 property owners met and formed the Lake Berkeley Civic Association. Besides zoning and developmental control, there were important needs such as electricity, telephones, and "an all-year road" around the lake. This need for benefits that an incorporated city could help secure brought about the creation of our charter, which was approved by the General Assembly of Georgia on March 6, 1956. A new municipality to be known as the City of Berkeley Lake was created in Gwinnett County, Georgia.
Over the years since the city's incorporation, a number of ordinances have been passed to protect the character and tranquility of our community. In addition, a comprehensive Master Plan for future land use and growth was developed and adopted.
Since 1994, five new subdivisions have been added to nearly complete the development of all the land within the city limits. Only two tracts of over 10 acres remain. In November of 1996, residents supported a referendum for the issuance of a bond to be used to purchase one of those tracts, approximately 63 acres of undeveloped forest land. This property, which provides both buffer and greenspace, was acquired by the city in December 1996.
Our predecessors faced some tough challenges and succeeded in protecting the environment and integrity of this city. By the continued foresight, planning commitment, and involvement of our citizens, Berkeley Lake will continue to stand out as a worthy example to other communities, and we preserve and enjoy the lifestyle we searched for and found here.