The Peachtree City Council Thursday denied an 18-acre annexation that would have allowed a shopping center outside the city limits to access the sewer system.
Southern Pines Plantation asked the city to annex and rezone 3.86 acres of the tract for office use. The remaining 14-plus acres would have been donated to the city to add to the Meade Field recreation complex.
City planning staff and the planning commission recommended denial of the annexation.
The shopping center, which would be located at the intersection of Hwy. 74 and Redwine Road, is approved for 176,000 square feet of retail and office uses including five outparcel lots directly off Hwy. 74 in unincorporated Fayette County. That’s about the same size as The Avenue shopping center in Peachtree City.
The Southern Pines shopping center will be built just south of the Wilshire Pavilion shopping center on Hwy. 74 south at Holly Grove Road.
The property was rezoned commercial from agricultural-residential by the Fayette County Commission in 2000, an action that was opposed by Peachtree City at the time. The city’s opposition was largely based on the proximity of the shopping center to the Wilshire Pavilion shopping center, which at that time was under construction.
The city also objected to the rezoning because it was not in harmony with the county’s land use plan.
The 3.83 acre site that was proposed for annexation is just a portion of the total development planned, the rest of which would remain in unincorporated Fayette County.
The Peachtree City Water and Sewer Authority had planned for sewer service for the site to be extended across the highway to other parcels currently in the city and a few parcels that could ultimately be annexed into the city.
Without being able to provide sewer service to SPP, WASA would have to use several pump stations to provide sewer service to those developments along Hwy. 74 that are already in the city limits.
WASA Chairman Wade Williams noted that if the annexation was approved, WASA stood to earn a significant amount in one-time sewer connection fees and also $180,000 a year in revenue. Williams also noted that the sewer option was more environmentally friendly than the septic-style system proposed for the development.
Some 50 acres at the rear of the property will be donated to the county to protect the existing Brechin Park subdivision in unincorporated Fayette. However, without sewer the shopping center’s septic field stands to be near the subdivision as well.
Two Brechin Park residents spoke to council, asking for approval of the annexation so they and their neighbors don’t have to deal with a nearby septic field. SPP confirmed that it could also locate the septic field on land adjacent to Meade Field.
SPP’s Jim Wells said the project was engineered so the sewer wouldn’t come within 200 feet of adjacent property, a distance that would trigger a state law allowing the adjacent owner to tap into the sewer system.
Wells also said the company would agree to several conditions on the annexation including the city not being required to provide sewer service to any building with any one use of more than 95,000 square feet.
Other conditions he suggested included:
• A $25,000 donation to grade the expansion of Meade Field;
• A $15,000 donation for lights at the Braelinn park;
• SPP would follow the city’s design guidelines for Ga. Highway 54 West except when those guidelines conflict with county regulations and some architectural items could be substituted with similar items and colors as approved by the city planner; and
• SPP would meet requirements of the city’s lighting, signage and landscaping ordinance where those rules do not conflict with the county’s ordinance.
Community Development Director David Rast said of the 14 plus acres that would be given to the city, only about 7 acres would be developable due to watershed protection buffers.
An item of significant concern is that the county’s approved site plan for the site is not binding by the county, Rast said. Currently the approved plan is for 177,000 sq. ft. of retail. Any change would only be reviewed by county staff instead of the county planning commission before it would be voted on by the county commission, Rast said.
Rast said staff didn’t see a compelling reason for annexing the property now.
“Providing sewer certainly makes the property more marketable,” Rast said, noting that without sewer access the site may not develop as quickly.
Mayor Harold Logsdon said he feels the city would be approving retail stores that would compete against existing stores in the city.
“I know it’s in the county and the city and we all share sales tax revenue, but we’ve got to look after Peachtree City first,” Logsdon said.
Logsdon said he also thinks the city needs to explore the area and determine if some of the nearby undeveloped land needs to be annexed by the city.
Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett said her concern was that SPP’s recommended conditions weren’t brought forth to the council until earlier in the day. The planning commission had not had a chance to look at those suggested conditions, she added.
City Manager Bernie McMullen told council the suggested conditions were received by the city Wednesday afternoon.
Councilman Doug Sturbaum said he was worried about the potential for the site plan changing in the future.
Councilman Steve Boone said he thinks SPP was trying to entice the city to allow sewer service so they can build “a mega complex.”
Council first considered a motion by Plunkett to send the matter back to the planning commission for reconsideration given the new conditions proposed by Southern Pines.
That vote failed on a 2-2 tie with Plunkett and Logsdon in favor and Boone and Sturbaum voting against.
A subsequent motion to deny the annexation carried on a 3-1 vote with Logsdon casting the no vote.