County commissioners spar over W. F’ville Neighborhoods, bypass

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Fayette Commissioner Brown points to plan revealed by The Citizen as proof West F’ville Bypass is ‘developers’ road’; Frady, Horgan, Hearn disagree, saying road has been talked about for many years

Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown contends a conceptual plan to develop land in the central area of the county is evidence that the West Fayetteville Bypass is being built to cater to developers.

The conceptual development plan — reported exclusively in The Citizen last week — was funded by the Fayette County Development Authority and the city of Fayetteville, beginning in 2008. The plan considers the development of some 2,000 acres in several parcels surrounding Piedmont Fayette Hospital.

Some of the new development would be annexed so it could be served by Fayetteville’s water and sewer system. That in turn will allow a higher density for the development when compared to the unincorporated county where no sewer service is available, thus forcing minimum lot sizes to one acre each.

All but one of the tracts has access to either Ga. Highway 54, Sandy Creek Road or Tyrone Road.

“The shameful part of all this is that the road that was cited to relieve traffic congestion is actually, once developed, going to increase the levels of traffic drastically,” Brown said.

Opposing Brown’s point of view, County Commissioner Lee Hearn noted that a 2003 traffic study performed by an independent traffic consultant in the area recommended both the West and East Fayetteville bypasses. Hearn also said it is clear the county needs alternate routes for traffic flow around the downtown Fayetteville area.

Hearn said the bypass was clearly on the county’s project list for funding in the 2004 county transportation sales tax, which was approved by voters.

Commissioner Robert Horgan pointed out that the West Fayetteville Bypass was part of the countywide transportation plan derived by previous county commissioners including former Commission Chairman Greg Dunn.

Horgan said he has never been approached by a developer asking him to build the bypass, nor has he “ever been given money” to make any such decision.

Horgan said he thought it was a good thing that the county was being forward-thinking with its planning in terms of the conceptual development plan that was produced.

Fayetteville Mayor Ken Steele defends the plan, saying the city and county would be “derelict in our duty and responsibilities if we don’t plan for the future.” He also noted that the bypass has been in the county’s transportation plan since 1985, then called the “central parkway.”

Steele noted that the 2,000 acres considered in the development plan prepared by Historical Concepts of Peachtree City has been owned by families for multiple generations. And they have a right to develop their property when they see fit, he said.

As for the concept plan itself, Steele said he has heard no negative comments from residents, but he has gotten feedback from people who are “happy we are planning for the future.”

Brown last week also decried the decision to build a new elementary school, Rivers Elementary, along Sandy Creek Road as evidence the area was being primed for development. But as Fayette County Commission Chairman Herb Frady noted, the county commission has no power over decisions made by the Fayette County School Board.