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We have to be vigilant about protecting our low-density way of life here

A multitude of us are in favor of preserving our quality of life in Fayette County, the envy of many. Unlike many of the counties in our region, we have something worth fighting for if you look at the statistics.

In reality, the only way to hold onto quality of life is not trust the local government (including Steve Brown) and get informed and personally involved. I can give you dozens of examples where elected officials have been ousted because the citizens found out (many times too late) their course had been radically altered.

I found great humor in The Citizen headline, “ARC planner: No mass transit projected for Fayette — ever.” At the urging of Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele, the ARC planners sanitized the slide showing mass transit projects for metro Atlanta. You see, Steele is up for reelection this year.

When the regional government staff member said, “I don’t think there’s a chance in my lifetime that anybody’s going to be advocating mass transit in areas that don’t want or need it,” he seems to have mysteriously forgotten his very department at the regional government planned mass transit projects for Fayette County, and our representatives to the regional government, former County Commission Chairman Jack Smith and Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele, kept voting for regional mass transit plans that included transit buses from Clayton, Coweta and Henry Counties rolling through our county.

It’s like the child who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar and claimed he did not do it. Likewise, the regional government staff member neglected to point out Mayor Steele along with County Commission Chairman Herb Frady, Commissioner Robert Horgan and Commissioner Lee Hearn is doggedly fighting, as recently as March 2, 2011, to keep Fayette County in regional mass transit plans.

When a government staff member, someone who is subject to the whims of the elected officials, says “I don’t think ...” you should not walk away with a great deal of confidence. After all, how did Fayette County get in the regional mass transit plans in the first place?

We know mass transit in Fayette County cannot be justified nor can we afford to sustain it with our low density land planning. We know the amount of traffic Fayette County puts on the regional road system is numerically insignificant and past Hartsfield-Jackson Airport the numbers drop even lower.

I was pleased when the Atlanta Regional Commission planners agreed with my position on mass transit in Fayette County at the March 10, 2011 Plan 2040 transportation plan meeting. A very honest David Haynes, short-range program manager with ARC, said that he could not foresee Fayette County needing mass transit “for the next 50 years.”

I heard some Fayette residents at the Plan 2040 meeting conveying if Fayette County got out of the mass transit plans, we would “be totally abandoning regional transportation planning.” Nothing could be further from the truth and shame on the special interests for putting that thought in their heads.

For starters we are not a paying participant in the new Regional Transit Commission now and we do not have a vote in the process currently. Second, we would still be active participants in regional road, bridge, pedestrian, bike and all other forms of transportation (the overwhelming majority of projects).

So the real question is why are Steele, Frady, Horgan and Hearn fighting to keep us in regional mass transit plans if the regional planners say mass transit is not needed in Fayette County?

The contrived civility tactic where people want us to spend money we do not have to fund mass transit we do not need by saying, “We are all in this together,” is not going to work. Similarly, “we” were not consulted when Gwinnett County killed their traffic flow with endless regional shopping centers, and “we” were not asked to approve their building exponentially more housing than their infrastructure could handle.

However, “we” did pay for their problems because Gwinnett County received the lion’s share of “our” federal and state highway funds for “our” region over the last couple of decades to reduce the impact of “their” mistakes.

In all honesty, Gwinnett, Fulton, Clayton, DeKalb and Cobb Counties could really care less if we have mass transit in Fayette County. They simply want us to pay for their mass transit system, but how could they justify our paying if we are not in the mass transit system?

Next year our Georgia Legislature will create a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) for Metropolitan Atlanta. This authority is absolutely necessary because the 2012 transportation sales tax referendum has billions of dollars of transit funding and no mechanism to disperse the revenue.

Even though the professional planners say we do not need to be in the mass transit plans, all the implementation decisions are up to the regional politicians and their appointments (not the ARC planners); in other words, it would be up to the RTA.

We already know that a major theme behind building regional transit is “the development of land use regulations and patterns that support transit uses ... [that] is not constrained by political boundaries (is regionally seamless for the user)” (Transit Planning Board â013 Thursday, Oct. 25, 2007).

The professional planners will tell you that the “regulations and patterns that support transit uses” are higher density development or redevelopment.

If Fayette County stays in the regional mass transit plans at the time the RTA is created by the legislature (and we are still in the regional mass transit plan because there has been no formal vote to remove us from the plan — see March 2 commission workshop vote), we could find ourselves in a position where we eventually have no choice but to implement the projects and look at changing our land uses around transit as well as funding regional mass transit.

If this sounds far-fetched to you, go look at the tremendous authority the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) was given over metropolitan Atlanta by the legislature.

I am determined to protect the assets that have made our county one of the top places to live. Copying the places where we chose not to live is definitely not the answer. Giving up our abundant quality of life and our tax dollars in the name of being a good regional neighbor is not the answer either. There is nothing wrong with remaining a low density, slow growth county without mass transit.

Steve Brown, County Commission, Post 4

Peachtree City, Ga.



Mike King's picture

With Cobb County's recent vote on their extension of a 1% sales tax and the near election of a conservative female as Mayor of Atlanta, can you not get behind an effort to defeat HB 277? By a 'no new taxes' effort this bill can and should be defeated, and you and I realize that if it is defeated your objection to mass transit would not be required.

This bill ain't passed, and despite your prognostication their is significant opposition. Hopefully, when it is voted down Mr Ramsey and Mr Chance will realize the meaning of RINO.

BHH's picture

It looks like HB277 is already in place.

Is there any way to defeat it now?

The new tax might be shot down but the committee to oversee the trust fund for transportation is not going anywhere. They will still be distributing funds through regional organizations that will determine what we need and get.

The fact is that even if we do nothing we could see buses running through Fayette County serving our neighboring counties and not us. They can follow any state route they like and we can't control where they stop.


Of course the regional people are for public traqnsportation. It may be a long time before Fayette County has it, but it is coming, nevertheless!

However, those who wish to be elected or have someone elected in Fayette will use it as a plank, that is impossible anyway, to obtain votes.

There are still people against drinking alcohol being legal!
How many run against abortions, yet we have millions every year! Even among those spouting their objections.

There are those who want everyone to carry a gun---even students. The more and more powerful that you own, the more I will vote for you! I suppose someday they plan to fight our army with their weapons (a gun against a F-35 Fighter-Bomber) so they can't tax us more?

As you can see the Libyans had guns, but couldn't fight F-15s and Tornadoes!
Not to mention Navy missels.

Mike King's picture

In order to be funded, a majority of voters within the ten counties must approve it. Vote it down and it dies.

Steve Brown's picture

I want the insurance policy of being out of the mass transit plan too. If for some reason the HB277 passes, we have got to be out of that mass transit plan. I can promise you the Regional Transit Authority is coming in the next legislative session. I do not want the RTA saying, "It's in the plan, you agreed to it, now build it and pay for it." And they will have that kind of authority.

Mike King's picture

Voting the tax down will have the effect of declawing/defanging the beast leaving ARC virtually impotent. Do you really believe our Representatives have the gall to attempt this after the voters reject their scheme?

My point being that we as drivers on our thoroughfares pay quite a sum in state gasoline taxes now, and it's high time our elected representatives learn to live within their means.

BHH's picture

From what I see on the ARC site our wish list is very short compared to other counties in the region.

So it seems to me that we need to add at least a dozen more wishes to our list. JUST IN CASE WE GET STUCK PAYING THIS TAX.

With this short list we are already on the short end of the stick.

Here are some suggestions.

1. Inman Rd at 92 needs to line up with Goza Rd.

2. Dogwood at 74 needs realigning.

3. Banks Rd at 54 should align with McElroy Rd.

4. 314 should be 4 lane to the county line near 138.

5. 279 should be 4 lane also.

6. 92 should be 4 lane from one end of the county to the other.

7. 85 Connector should align with 74.

8. A rapid rail to the airport would give us access to everything in the region we might want.

9. 4 lane 85 south to out of county.

10. An alternate RR crossing into (and out of) Shamrock Industrial area in Tyrone is desperately needed.

These are just a few that I know of.

We are talking about over the next 30 years aren't we?

Where is the planning here?

This IS a wish list.

Why hold back?


BHH's picture

The state wants fewer entities to distribute the gas tax to, so they are insisting on regional organizations.

That's why our county commission wants us in the ARC. Because they will get the lions share of state funds from here on out.

The trouble is that Fayette will not have enough clout or representation in that region to make this effort profitable to our communities. If we are in it then we need to be kicking and screaming for improvements the whole time.

The rule of government money is to ALWAYS ask for more than you need in the hopes of getting some of what you want. It's been that way since day one and will continue long after you and I am gone.


Here's the thing. Too many of us just don't realize that Fayette County is the best place in the Atlanta area to live. Sure, we've got problems. But, holy roadrage, look at the other counties. They've REALLY got problems with high crime, traffic, poor goes on and on.

No matter how many roads we widen, no matter how many interchanges we add, things aren't going to get any better. Please comment if you know of a county anywhere around here where folks are better off than we are. Some people will complain if there is even the slightest interruption in commuting. But what they won't admit is they would rather have Fayette County the way it is than moving elsewhere in the greater Atlanta area.

We need to be part of the ARC like Australia needs rabbits. And if you think Fayette County's got politics, you're right. But compared to the ARC's politics, Fayette County doesn't amount to a gnat on a frog on a log. We've got too many people hungry for the ARC's recognition as regional movers and shakers. We've also unfortunately still got a majority hangover of commissioners from the past administration we're just going to have to live with until the end of next year. Believe me, those folks aren't about to take issue with the ARC. They think the ARC should oversee for the entire metro area, including us. I've come to the conclusion that they don't want to be reelected, or they would listen to the people. That worries me, as there must undoubtedly be a scheme brewing to get more of their kind into office in next year's election. They will never recognize that Brown and McCarty represent the majority of voters who chose to vote against mass transit, SPLOST, and the West Bypass by electing them. They could care less what the majority doesn't want.

You see, the ARC diagrams the regional mess as a literal "can of worms," with each "worm" being an existing or added road, according to a diagram of roads on the ARC website. The ARC is planning big doings to untangle the labyrinth of trouble North of here. Only one of their many, many worms makes a neat little loop into Northern Fayette County. And they're still including us in their mass transit plans, but won't admit it. That's politically wise. But written diagrams say otherwise.

If you disagree with me or with Commmissioner Brown, bring, don't send your comments to the commissioners meeting Thursday night at 7 PM...that is, if you think any of the "three musketeers" will listen to you. If you speak in favor of the West Bypass or ARC, they just might listen, but no guarantees. We still can't figure out why they speak out against rapid rail/mass transit, yet voted for it. I respect the right of folks to present dissenting opinions to the "take back Fayette County" movement afoot. The problem is, nobody has been brave enough to voice them at the commissioners meetings. Somebody needs to speak up, because as long as the three musketeers have the voting majority, it should be in tune with the election returns, which it isn't.

BHH's picture

HB277, SECTION 6, ARTICLE 5, PART 2, 48-8-244 (d) In the event a special district sales and use tax election is held and the voters in a special district do not approve the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax, the local governments in such special district shall be required to provide a 30 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation for transportation projects and programs for at least 24 months and until such time as a special district sales and use tax is approved. In the event the voters in a special district approve the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax, the local governments in such special district shall be required to provide a 10 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation for transportation projects and programs for the duration of the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax.

The process for distributing gas tax already being collected has already been changed regardless of whether or not the new tax passes...


Mike King's picture

I really like your assessment of calling it 'bait' because our Legislature has placed the State in a Catch-22 because if voted down we have gas taxes hiked. This whole issue has the aroma of Georgia's own Obamacare written all over it. Our Republican Legislature voted to approve it knowing we couldn't afford it and would likely not realize the cost until it was too late.

These are the issues (taxes) that don't see the light of day until we start paying them. Further, should our local TEA Party not get behind defeating this thing, they prove that they are but a paper tiger when confronted with new taxes.

BHH's picture

Our cost for ALL future local maintenance and improvements funded by the state will be 3 times as much if we vote down the tax.

THIS FACT ALONE is probably enough to convince the majority of commissioners to pursue it.

However, getting proof of a commitment to no mass transit in Fayette county without a majority vote of Fayette County voters in favor might be worth the cost.


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