Lately, it has been apparent that Peachtree City no longer plans ahead. Instead we find ourselves reacting to whatever comes our way and trying to make it work.
What has happened?
What happened to the town that told everybody how it was going to be and as a result businesses felt privileged to build here? Now it seems like we are the ones that bow down to whatever is presented to us and we are constantly compromising.
Take the bowling “center” proposed for Ga. Highway 74 South across from Wilshire Estates and adjacent to Somerby senior living facility.
Five years ago when this property was rezoned from GI to GC the neighboring communities fought hard to get a list of restricted uses as a condition of the rezoning. They also fought hard for a nice tree save buffer on Hwy. 74 S. and a golf cart tunnel under Rockaway Road.
The tree save buffer was lost due to utility easements. The golf cart tunnel under Rockaway Road has been defunded. Now, when a bowling center, currently a restricted use, asks to locate on the property some city officials think we should allow it in lieu of other allowed uses.
Why don’t we just throw everything out the window and start over? The development agreement that was the entire basis for the rezoning in the first place back in 2007 is essentially meaningless if we allow this restricted use.
There will be no stopping other restricted uses from coming in and making a good case to be allowed as well. Once we start chipping away at our development agreements and reversing them arbitrarily, they weaken, and eventually become just as worthless as the piece of paper they are printed on.
Take the Line Creek property as another example. It has been sitting undeveloped for almost a year. During that time has the city taken any initiative to develop a plan for that property that we actually want? One that suits the unique circumstances of the lot? One that takes into account its proximity to Line Creek Nature area, Planterra Ridge, Cardiff Park and its GC zoning? One that won’t cause city-wide controversy and division?
No. Instead we have done nothing and now we have a developer coming to us telling us what they want and we are being asked to try and make it work with our ordinances. Here we go again.
I thought we were a planned community? Somehow we have turned into a reactive community instead, one that just rolls with whatever comes our way — not exactly what our city was founded on.
Council recently passed a resolution that will be on the ballot in November to let the voters decide whether we can sell alcohol in package stores on Sundays. We also recently voted to allow restaurants and bars to remain open until 2 a.m. on weekends. Why?
The answer that they do it in Coweta County and everywhere else is exactly why we should not make the change. It sounds a little like, “If Johnny jumps off a cliff, would you?”
Now we have heard all the arguments about allowing things into our city to help boost the tax base and keep our property taxes low. Mini big boxes at Line Creek and a bowling center at Wilshire would bring money into our city — no denying that — money that would help our revenue bottom line … in the short term.
But what about 10-15 years from now? Doesn’t anyone think about that? Planning ahead is one of the foundations of our fair city, and one that has kept us enduringly beautiful. Can anyone show me a large retail area anywhere with six or seven big-box or mini-big-box stores within a stone’s throw of each other that after 20 years anyone would want to live next to?
When things get tight economically, it is very easy to look at any solution, whether short-term or not to ease the strain. We have to be strong and stick to our principles, especially during these times so that we do not succumb to short-term economic pressures and in the long run sacrifice our beautiful city.
Twenty years from now we want our property values and our quality of life to be envied and have PTC regarded as the best city in the country. We cannot achieve that if we keep compromising the very principles that have brought us here and make us different.
Our city officials need to hold our zoning requirements and restrictions sacred. They need to develop a proactive vision for our city that embraces our historical values and allows us to grow economically at the same time.
If we keep letting our standards be compromised for short-term economic gain and not define a proactive approach to development, we will cease to be great.
Remind yourself why you chose to live in PTC.
Then do your part to keep those reasons alive.
Peachtree City, Ga.