We’ll be looking back a little and looking forward a lot in this analysis (lightly seasoned with opinions) of what’s happening in Peachtree City lately.
First, back and forward.
Here’s some new information about something old that may startle you. It became public at the Feb. 20 City Council meeting.
A man who has lived for many years on the never-paved Stagecoach Road asked for help from the council. He said over the years the city has occasionally done some repair work on the old dirt road that once actually carried horse-drawn stagecoach traffic.
He said he had discovered recently that Stagecoach has never officially been a city-owned street, and that the city has now declined to do any more work on what is essentially a long driveway serving multiple property owners, including the Fayette County School System and the Peachtree City United Methodist Church, and several private homeowners.
The property lines of the multiple owners extend to the middle of the dirt road along both sides of the quaint little dirt road. There is no public road to be paved or otherwise to be legally improved, no matter which public entity bears the expense.
Why should this matter to anybody else in the city or county? Because the Fayette County Board of Education has spent multiple millions buying property at the eastern end of what is a private street and wants badly to build a $40-plus million new version of J.C. Booth Middle School.
Had the school system done a little bit of due diligence, it might have discovered that not only was the second way into and out of their future school not a public street that Peachtree City might be called upon to widen and pave, but also that the system might have to shell out big bucks to buy and/or condemn any other private property adjoining the dirt road.
Now the system did prepare one other way out by buying two residential lots on Carriage Lane. But if the school system coordinated their plans with either Peachtree City or the Georgia Department of Transportation, we have yet to hear about it.
The city undoubtedly will be called upon to improve Carriage Lane — a residential neighborhood street — to carry greatly increased traffic loads. And the city hasn’t planned for that expense, and by law the school system can’t pay for it.
Count to three, now, because the Ga. DOT will have to agree to plan for and pay for major improvements to the intersection of the current residential street with busy four-lane Ga. Highway 54 to accommodate the thousands of new vehicle trips through that junction, one that already is misaligned. Do you know how long it takes the state to go through that much red tape that involves the safety of hundreds and hundreds of middle school students?
A third big oops.
School Superintendent Jody Barrow may have picked a great time to retire and leave the problems of implementing the new Booth Middle School to somebody else.
Board members, two questions: What was your big hurry? And is there anything you might like to change your minds about? Besides sex education curriculum, I mean.
Oh, and what happened to that Stagecoach Road homeowner who asked for the city to reconsider abandoning any road work on that narrow dirt road on the city’s east side?
He went away with no joy. The city was obliged by law to say no. For the city to spend more public funds to repair or work on private property would be illegal.
[The news analysis continues below.]
Now, another look forward.
You get to have your say in what Peachtree City becomes as a big-city planning group begins to put together the first Livable Centers Initiative in 19 years.
The group holds its second public meeting Thursday at 6 p.m. at City Hall, and — yes — you are invited.
According to the city’s information about this, “LCI plans produce land use, transportation, and economic development recommendations to improve the usability of the study area.” And “The study area is centered around the intersection of Highways 54 and 74, extending east to Lake Peachtree, south to Paschall Road, west to the county line, and north to Aberdeen Parkway.” Check out the map above: That’s is definitely the center of the city.
Here’s what the completed LCI plan will do:
• Be based on public input (lots of opportunities to share your thoughts to come!)
• Establish a community vision and goals for the LCI study area
• Create policies and programs to help accomplish the vision
• Identify key redevelopment sites
• Create guidance for redevelopment type, size, and character in the study area
• Develop an implementation plan
• Recommend updates to the zoning regulations in the study area
Remember, most of that study area is private property, and its owners may be just fine with the zoning they’ve got. Once the LCI gets formalized into a plan to change uses or impose different zoning, it might be late in the game to have your say have any effect.
So, the LCI group wants your feedback on the seven major issues they identified at their Feb. 3 inaugural meeting:
1. Traffic congestion at 54/74 and the need for alternative routes.
2. Need for a gathering space.
3. Need for more housing options.
4. Attracting a more diverse demographic.
5. Re-imagine aging building stock and properties.
6. How to better leverage the path system.
7. Attracting businesses and jobs.
Now the big question is: Are these your top issues? Yes, no, maybe? Take their survey online to get a head-start on giving them your input.
And finally, a big libertarian cheer must be going up for the Peachtree City Council and Police Chief Janet Moon.
The chief earlier this month urged the council to hack away at the red tape and licensing bureaucracy that required food servers and store clerks to go through background checks and purchase city licenses to bring an alcoholic beverage to your restaurant table or to bag your wine purchase in a supermarket.
It began as local officials grappled with the logistics involved with policing outdoor entertainment events for adults that happened on city property, mainly Drake Field next to City Hall.
There was a wine festival and a beer-sampling outdoor event coming up in March and later that would challenge city supervision if everybody who dispensed a beer or wine sample had to be permitted first.
Chief Moon suggested an overhaul of the city’s alcohol ordinances, and the council responded unanimously. As detailed in the city’s Updates email, “Several amendments to the City’s Alcohol Ordinance were approved, including the deletion of the requirement for alcoholic beverage handling permits/server’s permits. Employees who work for businesses that hold alcohol licenses are no longer required to obtain the permit. All references to the permit were deleted. Amendments to the Special Event Permit process were approved, including a definition for ‘21 ages and up special events’ and requirements for those events.”
So, if you are toasting anybody in particular at these outdoor entertainments, you might remember the red tape cutters at City Hall and the Police Department.
Deleting rules: When’s the last time that happened?
[Cal Beverly is the publisher of TheCitizen.com.]