Too much work has gone into Kohl’s plan to just dismiss issue


First, I would like to say that this is my first editorial and I am only writing it because I and others were denied the right to public comment in regard to the new amendment to the CCD development on Ga. Highway 54 during the first City Council meeting of (2010) with our new council and mayor. So here it goes.

Since most of you don’t know me, I have been a resident of Peachtree City for 16 years and a homeowner in Planterra Ridge for 14 years. I moved here, like most of you, for the strict zoning, conservation of green space, and neighborhood concept.

I first became active with retail development on the west side of the city during Mayor Lenox’s term in office, because of a loophole in a zoning ordinance that allowed the first, now infamous term, big box stores. I was an active participant in a local petition to deny the building of Walmart and Home Depot (a CCD development) until the Hwy. 54 was widened to four lanes. As you know, we weren’t successful.

So when Mr. McMurrain of CCD then proposed the new Line Creek development on the corner of Hwy. 54 and Planterra Way in 2006, we were very concerned again. As a result, at the beginning of 2007, the PTC Planning Commission encouraged all of us concerned citizens, and there were many, to have meetings with Mr. McMurrain to try to come up with a compromise that would benefit all.

I would like to note that with all the Planning Commission workshops and meetings, the citizens’ meetings with Mr. McMurrain, PTC Civic Association meetings (formed in light of this and other proposed developments to help give all PTC neighborhoods a stronger and united voice at City Council meetings) held in 2007, none of the current members of our City Council or the mayor attended, to my knowledge. I may be wrong on this and they may correct me.

I guess big box stores were not a concern of theirs before they decided to run for office.

Now, to the current issues at hand that I was not able to verbalize at the City Council meeting of Jan. 7, 2010, in regard to the amendment to the Line Creek Development.

1. To correct the mayor, who said that “enough had been said on this issue over the years”: What the mayor failed to realize was that this was the first time the amendment, itself, was to be addressed by the new City Council. The outgoing City Council in December 2009 passed the issue on to the new council. Therefore, there had been NO opportunity for public comment until the first council meeting of 2010.

2. Not only did Rick Lindsey, attorney for CCD Development verbalize the requested amendment, he also requested the council to table the vote, so that a citizen workshop could be held on this subject with a representative of the council attending. That was also denied.

Didn’t Mayor Haddix just state publicly “that he would like to have workshops held on controversial issues, so citizens could have their say before the issue comes before City Council”? There is no more controversial issue than big box development in the city or during the recent election.

So, the mayor contradicts his own statement by denying CCD Development’s request for a citizen workshop on this amendment.

Now to the amendment itself.

1. The current agreement between the city and CCD Development calls for three big box stores of 50,000 sq. ft. each. The amendment would reduce this to only one big box store consisting of 65,000 sq. ft. with the other two stores going to the maximum allowed by the city of 32,000 sq. ft.

The request for 65,000 sq. ft. for one store is because Kohl’s has come back to the developer, so they can locate in Peachtree City. They even reduced their normal size store configuration to accommodate a location here.

OK, is this not a win for the city and those that oppose big box stores, or is my logic wrong, one instead of three? So, to use the excuse of being against big boxes does not hold water to saying “no” to this specific amendment. What do we lose by saying “no” to this amendment to get this development started now?

1. This development has been the best planned development presented to the city due to all the meetings between citizens and the developer over the past two years. It resulted in a written agreement with a 19-point concession by the developer that includes what types of stores, eating establishments and bars he won’t pursue; buffers that go beyond the city’s requirements; a center that will reflect the look of The Avenue; and money directly to the city’s budget needs.

2. At least $500,000 or higher, depending on the appraised value, for city streets that the city would have to turn over to the developer for up keep any way. This money would help our budget shortfalls.

3. An additional $200,000 to provide for seasonal landscaping of medians along Hwy. 54 from Hwy. 74 to the city limits at Line Creek and landscaping of Hwy. 54 entrance at Planterra Way (city-owned property) that has been neglected since the widening of that highway.

All of us on the westside have been promised by those in city government that we will “look like the rest of Peachtree City” for years, and we are still waiting. This landscaping would have to be budgeted by the city in the future to finally fulfill this promise. Another city budget savings.

4. Most retail developers and city governments understand that to have a viable retail center, you need to have a strong anchor store or restaurant to increase customer traffic to the center for it and the smaller mom and pop stores in the center to be financially successful.

It seems our current city council and mayor do not realize that or don’t want to acknowledge that fact.

Why would they acknowledge this same need to replace the anchor store vacated by Kroger in Peachtree Crossings and encourage an email campaign to help the existing mom and pop stores to get The Fresh Market to reconsider this site and not recognize what Kohl’s would bring to the Line Creek Development?

Needless to say, in this economy where the majority of our empty retail spaces are of the mom and pop size, we need a store that can maintain itself in hard economic times.

Kohl’s knows it has loyal customers in PTC by analyzing their own sales transactions at their stores located in Fayetteville and Newnan. If we don’t take advantage of this opportunity to have them locate in Peachtree City, you will find the next Kohl’s store in the Fischer Crossings development, one mile from our west PTC border in Coweta County.

Some City Council members are quoted as saying that they “don’t care about us getting that revenue. Peachtree City doesn’t need that revenue just to bring all those people into Peachtree City.”

Well, I beg to differ; “those people” are residents of PTC who will be leaving Peachtree City to shop in Coweta, because those loyal shoppers live here.

They also will be going there to work. Kohl’s stores in Newnan and Fayetteville, on a yearly average have 101 employees, 18 full-time positions and 83 part-time positions. I obtained this information by calling Kohl’s corporate office.

It has also been stated by some that we in PTC don’t need big box regional or national chain stores because we should shop at our mom and pop stores.

I shop at mom and pop stores first, Gilroy’s Hardware vs. Home Depot when I can.

But mom and pop stores can’t afford to take the low markups chains can afford or even maintain the inventories needed in sizes for essential apparel items such as underwear, socks, etc. Just ask your wife where she buys your shirts, socks, etc., Mr. Mayor.

So, I guess the sales and property taxes this development would bring to PTC will have to be made up another way by the city. All that I hear the mayor and other members of the new City Council say regarding bringing new businesses to the city is in regard to the industrial park.

We will not be able to seriously address the city’s revenue shortfalls without looking for additional revenues in our retail arena; it is the most profitable for the city when it comes to net revenues.

So if the mayor and City Council are truly serious about not increasing taxes on homeowners, they should re-evaluate their stand on delaying the development of Line Creek.

If they truly want to live up the promise that has been made to those of us living on the westside and take advantage of all our time and hard work working with CCD Development, the city’s own Planning Committee and city planning department over the past two years to give a development that will be of quality in look and substance and enhance the city’s revenues in viable promised cash as laid out in the written 19-point agreement with CCD, then address this amendment and/or request for a workshop so that we can move forward as a city on this development that has been in works for over two years now and not just say “no” because of campaign rhetoric.

It is time to look at the real facts and face the reality of the economy and the PTC budget shortfalls and come up with real solutions.

Compromise is not a bad word. You can only have progress and solutions in government through compromise with your counterparts, businesses, and the citizens you are suppose to serve. And above all be open-minded to listen.

Caren Russell

Planterra Ridge subdivision

Peachtree City, Ga.