On abandoning roads, regional transit & city survey


There has been a lot of activity and some issues could use a little more information and clarity.

On the special use permit removal and caps, the vote was 4-1 to not approve. But do not make the mistake of thinking that means all want it to remain or support big boxes. There are other reasons I have exercised myself, such as having the ability to bring an agenda item back before six months have transpired.

As for the issue of “flexibility,” the examples of what was gained in the CCD negotiations were cited. That was in reality a reason against flexibility.

The council majority had to give to get the increased berms, setbacks, etc. With the transition yard ordinance and changes to other setback and landscaping ordinances I pushed and were passed, those items are now mandated.

In the past a big problem developers have had is our lack of clarity due to ordinances having “flexibility.” They made it very clear it discouraged, not encouraged, coming here. The current 54 West site developer has made it clear they want to know up front where Council is on an issue, not go through a lot of cost, time and effort only to find out the answer is no. Hardly an argument for flexibility or to encourage development.

Nor is setting legal precedence that enables a lawsuit something good. Personal opinion does not qualify as law in a court. We have have lost lawsuits, such as the Lowe’s case, because of Council’s wanting to have the right to pick and choose what they want. CCD is precedence, make no mistake about it.

Relating that to the current 54 West site proposal there is no option on the setbacks, berms, etc. In example, the rear setback began at 75 feet with berms and landscaping that screen the development from Cardiff [Park]. Nothing had to be given away to get those points.

On the road abandonment the city attorney did agree with Councilman [Eric] Imker that Council could declare the roads didn’t have “public purpose.” But he also agreed with me in court, as has happened, they could declare the abandonment illegal because the roads did have public purpose and/or they were abandoned to enable a developer.

On the abandonment Planning Commissioner David Conner suggested moving Line Creek Circle to be able to preserve our future ability to put in the South Secondary Road, the public purpose I cited for just abandoning being illegal, and allow a better development. I concurred that would make the issue legal, as stated by law, and was in fact something I had been able to get added to the CCD SUP Agreement.

The LAI engineer remembered the addition to CCD and agreed to it.

As well, there was a recognition of my point GDOT was not going to allow carts to cross Hwy. 54. So an effort will be made to gain access to the MacDuff [Parkway] signal via an extension of the relocated road, in keeping with the Peachtree City Transportation Plan and the 2001 LCI 54 West Master Plan.

This does not mean a connection to Planterra Way is being asked for. It does not mean if one were asked for it would be approved. I, for one, would say either the whole Southern Secondary Road or nothing. We must take into account the impact on Planterra Way traffic.

Also, it does not mean this site is planned or approved. It means the Planning Commission and developer now have a lot more information with which to work and negotiate. The City Council is now out of the process until something comes forward to us or the proposal is withdrawn.

Moving on to a recent comment attributed to [Fayette County] Commissioner [Robert] Horgan that said Peachtree City lost funding for the Crosstown/Peachtree Parkway and the West Gateway bridge due to my comments about leaving ARC. Completely false.

In a communication with GDOT, by another party, the accusation was denied and the newspapers printing it notified. As well, those projects were put on the at risk list prior to my bringing up the proposal. Even further, pro-TSPLOST cities also had projects put on the list and subsequently lost funding.

Regarding the TSPLOST, anyone following the issue knows I oppose it and thought it was best to leave ARC. Everything that has occurred since confirms that opinion was correct.

[Fayetteville] Mayor [Kenneth] Steele said he supported changing the criteria for paths from non-motorized to motorized, meaning golf carts. Yet he made a motion to approve the criteria as written.

Now he says he wants to change the criteria to include golf carts and get regional funding. But the criteria is already submitted and approved.

Several of the road projects in the county transportation plan made no sense until I attended the Neighborhood Plan 2040 meeting hosted by the Civic League, where ARC representatives were present.

They now make sense because a heavy truck freight route was added from the [Ga. Highway] 74/I-85 area down through Fayette. It is constrained already, meaning prioritized, even before our Fayette projects have been submitted.

There are also constrained mass transit routes being added in Fulton and DeKalb. Those would be paid for by all the ARC counties. So yet again, Fayette is a donor county.

On claims bus and rail are not coming in, I still see them in Plan 2010 (TSPLOST/HB 277) and Plan 2040. I see them in the Regional Transportation Committee created to become the regional control of mass transit. I see the proposals for yet another penny, or fractional penny, tax to fund the running and expansion of the system.

Remember, we can list any project as any type we want. We can say no to any project. But GDOT and GRTA have the final say if they are local, regional, state or federal. They have the power to remove any project as non-qualifying. They have the power to add any project, such as the truck freight route. The RTR has the say on whether it will be built or not; we do not.

Regarding the recent retreat leading to the budget process, I will just say as has been true since I have been on council, a lot of needed maintenance, replacement, etc., in infrastructure and equipment has been postponed too long. We do not have the money to pay for it all. Tax increases are not the answer. Our new city manager has inherited a challenge; we will see what he brings forward.

On the survey, 1,936 residences, about 14 percent of all homes, responded. 27.2 percent were 65 plus, 27 percent were 55 to 64, 26 percent were 45 to 54 and 19.8 percent under 45. 62.8 percent have no children at home. While I do not see current age demographics for Peachtree City this seems fairly in line considering the average age in Fayette County is now 51 years old. Our fastest growing, and largest, demographic is 55-plus while the smallest and shrinking demographic is households with school-age children.

It surprised some on council that with the age of the respondents the majority didn’t want the Gathering Place expansion. It didn’t surprise me because most of my peers and older friends (I am turning 60 soon) do not use it or want to pay for it.

As well it surprised them the support for the [Kedron Fieldhouse pool] bubble was weaker than expected. Only about 62 percent showed any level of support. I say only when the largest group, about 34 percent, were strongly opposed, the second largest group simply said they could see some value in it and the smallest group, also in the 30 percent range, strongly supported it. Remember, the question said nothing about replacing or paying for the bubble. It simply asked if having a year-round pool was a good thing.

To answer that question about paying for the bubble, look to the question asked about what to do about taxes. 71 percent said no more raises, 14 percent said cut taxes and 13 percent said raise as needed. So regardless of who said what on the other questions in the survey, about 86 percent said do it without raising taxes. That is an overwhelming statement that cannot be ignored.

Finally, support for big boxes remains very low. In example, on the issue of a Kohl’s, resurrected by the current 54 West proposal, only 9.1 percent stated any support, many of which didn’t specify Kohl’s but used it as an example.

As a kick in here, big box chains are reducing the size of their newer plans. For Walmart, in example, a 32,000-square-foot plan is now the most popular because big boxes, malls and super shopping centers (over 150,000 square feet) are shutting down and cities are moving back to downtowns and village centers where they are able to create them.

On the very good news front, we have a new city manager. He brings a fresh approach, outlook and management style.

Fresh Market is open for business. A lot of citizens are very happy about that. We wish them success.

The SANY ribbon cutting has occurred, they are hiring engineers, welders and others. The employees consist of a lot of highly qualified people. It is a great add to Peachtree City.

We have a good relationship with SANY and will continue to build upon it. They are very interested in contributing to Peachtree City and we appreciate it.

The CVB continues to bring good things to Peachtree City. The range is a family reunion package to sporting events and the Fireball Run in September. All will benefit our fair city.

As always there is a lot to do. The more proactive and self sufficient we are the better off Peachtree City will be. In my office I will continue to move forward and encourage others to do so as well.

[Don Haddix was elected mayor of Peachtree City in 2009. Previously, he had served two years as a council member. His email is dhaddix@peachtree-city.org.]