To be, or not to be, that is the question. Well, Mr. Shakespeare, this tragedy will certainly be.
The journey began back in the year of 2006, and a massive rumbling stirred throughout our area when a C-7 Commercial Major Shopping District rezoning application came before the Coweta County Board of Commissioners. It was Scott Seymour of Seymour Construction and Development in Peachtree City who brought this matter to bear.
An enormous 150-acre retail complex with one million square feet of commercial space at build-out located near the intersection of Ga. Highway 54/34 and Dr. Fischer Road was the prize.
The Coweta Commission had a long history of denying all plans of such magnitude in the eastern third of their county, preferring a rural environment. However, their attitude began to change around 2004.
The folks in the county annex over in Newnan did not like to see their citizens going across the border into Fayette County for goods and services. The resentment was molded into major changes in the Coweta County Comprehensive Land Use Plan in 2006. The sleepy corridor on Ga. Highway 34/54 from Peachtree City to Thomas Crossroads was redrawn into a major commercial retail zone with Mr. Seymour’s development being the first major step to that end.
In 2007, a Coweta citizens group, the Council for Sustainable Growth, tried to fight the development, but the Coweta Commission would have none of it. Like many developers wanting to develop massive projects in Coweta, Seymour made a nice contribution to U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland’s campaign fund at a pivotal point in the process.
Seymour had a rough go of it as the economy began to rock. In 2008, 40 percent of his development site landed in foreclosure, filed by Bank of Coweta, trying to collect on an $11,050,000 loan.
To make matters worse, the development plans submitted to the county planning department could not be examined because the review fees had not been paid. There was also a lawsuit filed by the Alliance Theater Company after concerns were raised concerning its $35,000 in earnest money paid on seven of the acres.
The battered Seymour wound up in Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
Seymour’s fate was dangling on closing the long-standing contract negotiation with Sam’s Club on one of the parcels not in the foreclosure proceedings. As went 138,000-square-foot Sam’s Club, so went the rest of the large development.
Just recently, Seymour closed the deal with Sam’s Club and NCG Cinemas. With the Sam’s Club anchor in place, the retail underlings will flock to the site.
Unfortunately, the government officials in Coweta County decided to follow the development model set by Gwinnett County, using the motto, “Build it all now and worry about the consequences later.” But if they bothered to look, they would see Gwinnett is sinking in traffic, crime and unemployment.
Regrettably, western Fayette County will suffer the consequences of traffic jams right along with the Cowetians. The Coweta County government’s own future traffic projections for Ga. highways 34/54 running into Peachtree City clearly show the worst rating, total gridlock.
At least the Coweta government had the courage to tell the truth, unlike the fraudulent traffic plan the Fayette County Commissioners dropped on us.
The Logsdon City Council in Peachtree City made matters significantly worse for commuters on hwys. 34/54, adding further big box retail. With the additional big box retail center comes a very costly traffic signal, pried between two existing signals, outside of recognized engineering standards.
It should not take a great deal of effort to convince our new City Council in Peachtree City that evasive action must be taken to put a stop to the idiotic new traffic signal on Hwy. 54 West. The actions of a previous council cannot bind the new council in this case.
We do not need a Shakespearean tragedy. No excuses for failing to act on this one since our traffic situation will certainly worsen.
Let the new City Council members know your feelings regarding the foolish traffic signal proposed for the already crowded corridor, and let’s do what we can to see that it does not happen and further destroy our quality of life. Email them: firstname.lastname@example.org today.
[Steve Brown is the former mayor of Peachtree City. He can be reached at email@example.com.]