Commissioner Allen McCarty and I were given the oath of office on Dec. 27. At the end of the ceremony, I had several maps on display for the audience so they could actually view a realistic picture of what the future holds.
As an aside, both Commissioner McCarty and I were deeply grateful to see so many people attend the ceremony with temperatures in the 20s. We appreciate your support.
The first map was from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) and depicted the most congested roads in metropolitan Atlanta. I showed those gathered around that virtually none of that congestion was in Fayette County.
Likewise, I told them that the road funding for the HB 277 road tax referendum is weighted on congestion levels, so it most likely means Fayette taxpayers will be sending their hard-earned dollars elsewhere, like Gwinnett, Cobb, Clayton, MARTA, etc.
The next map was also from the ARC and it showed the mass transit plan for metropolitan Atlanta entitled “Concept 3.” To date, all of Fayette County’s representatives to the ARC have voted in favor of Concept 3. As the audience witnessed, the plan clearly calls for bus routes from Clayton, Henry and Coweta to pass through our Fayette County.
It is extremely difficult to deny the future application of mass transit in our county. After all, the official maps and regional documents specifically and deliberately note bus routes through Fayetteville and Peachtree City.
And, please, let me assure you the regional government (ARC) is not spending significant sums of money on these mass transit plans just for the fun of it; implementation is on the horizon.
The third map was also from ARC and showed the proposed outer perimeter for metropolitan Atlanta.
Now for you old timers, there was once a plan coming from the Georgia Department of Transportation called the outer perimeter.
That specific plan called for the southernmost curve to align with Ga. Highway 16 through Spalding and Coweta counties [just south of Brooks in southern Fayette]. That plan has changed to include only the counties that are in the ARC area.
The new map depicts the southernmost curve of the outer perimeter cutting directly through the center of Fayette County, dead through the heart of Fayetteville and beyond.
Again, the weak defense of this horrific project from Fayette’s ARC representatives is, “The project is only on state highways and is not an interstate.”
Ladies and gentlemen, the fact the outer perimeter is on widened state routes is the worst case scenario.
We would be looking at a wave of increased traffic slowed by a line of traffic signals and curb cuts from business and residential complexes. Look no further than Tara Boulevard in Clayton County, Bullsboro Drive (Ga. Highway 34) in Coweta, Memorial Drive in DeKalb, etc. as examples of what happens when you intensify volume on state highways, resulting in utter gridlock.
Our Fayette County has done well by not mimicking the other counties in metropolitan Atlanta. We are markedly different in a variety of good ways.
In fact, figures released this month show we are tops in lowest poverty rate, median household income (second behind Forsyth), lowest vacant housing rate, SAT scores, low crime rates and longest lifespan. So why would we even consider for a moment trying to replicate the efforts of the other counties in the metropolitan area?
I have had personal conversations with three county commission chairmen over the past two weeks. All of us believe the HB 277 regional transportation referendum is the first step toward moving into a more regional government format, taking power away from individual jurisdictions.
As an Atlanta native, residing in five of the ARC counties through the years, I envision regional decisions in the ARC as pulling us away from what has made us a unique winner. Likewise, the tremendous success of our local real estate market, after we modify to metropolitan Atlanta standards, would diminish like the rest of the counties.
Why are we charting a course for homogenizing ourselves into the rest of metropolitan Atlanta? We had better take a serious look at what is going on in our current region and decide if it is the best option for us.
Lastly, Commissioner McCarty and I have two items on the Wednesday, Jan. 5 (3:30 p.m.) Board of Commissioners agenda.
First, is a request for term-limits for commissioners, calling for no more than two consecutive terms. As we have seen at every level of government, longevity in elected office usually mean less productivity, more bureaucracy and a greater focus on special interests.
The second item is a call for policy and procedure not allowing the Board of Commissioners to vote on any item which has not appeared on an agenda open to the public and press at least 24 hours in advance.
Government in our country carries the added burden of openness and fairness. Government should always err on the side of openness and state law dictates appropriate notification to the public.
The fiduciary responsibilities of government should always be handled in public view and the public should always receive advance notification of those items before they come to the commissioners for a vote.
The Wednesday meeting of the commissioners is held in the conference room of the administrative section of the county government complex at 140 Stonewall Avenue in Fayetteville. Please attend.
Fayette Commissioner, Post 4
Peachtree City, Ga.