Are there proclamation requests Peachtree City should refuse, and how will they choose?

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Peachtree City Manager Jon Rorie (L) and City Councilman Mike King have a chat before the meeting gets underway March 5. Photo/Cal Beverly.
Peachtree City Manager Jon Rorie (L) and City Councilman Mike King have a chat before the meeting gets underway March 5. Photo/Cal Beverly.

Zoning density loophole gets Council’s attention — 

NEWS ANALYSIS — The March 5 Peachtree City Council will likely be noteworthy not for what the council members did, but for what they did not do … yet.

What they did not do yet was tighten up a catch-all residential zoning — General Residential — to prevent unexpected high-density redevelopments now allowed in a GR loophole.

But that change is almost certainly coming. City staff is preparing revisions to the long-standing ordinance that will limit maximum density to at most 12 dwelling units per acre rather than the currently allowable 25 units per acre.

And what they did not do yet was dramatically narrow the scope of what kinds of official proclamations the council will consider in the future.

What is expected to show up as a policy change is saying no to any proclamation involving political issues and controversial matters, pro or con.

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<b>City slide summarizing staff recommendations about GR zoning district changes. Photo/Cal Beverly.</b>
City slide summarizing staff recommendations about GR zoning district changes. Photo/Cal Beverly.

The decision to go for an ordinance change to limit GR density came after a couple of discussions in open council meetings recently.

Council members faced the question: Suppose a developer buys up property zoned GR-25 but with less density on it currently. Will big bucks buy an unexpected high-density apartment development that replaces duplexes or even small single-family homes?

The answer, yes, unless we change the GR density limits. That’s coming up in the next couple of meetings.

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As for council proclamations, City Manager Jon Rorie posed some uncomfortable scenarios of the council being asked to proclaim things that they might want to avoid.

Suppose, Rorie said, somebody wants the city to proclaim “National Sanctity of Human Life Day,” or “National Gun Violence Week,” or to label a group either a “domestic terror organization” or a “Defender of American Constitutional Civil Rights.”

Rorie suggested the council might want to adopt a policy that “is policy driven, not politically driven or emotionally driven.”

One can imagine that a proclamation about efforts to promote the conservation needs of two-toed sloths might draw some fire from groups that believe three-toed sloths are being unjustly overlooked.

Thus the proposed policy change will have the council turning away requests for a public shout-out for the following: Retirements, birthdays, weddings and wedding anniversaries, deceased persons, religious events or celebrations, family and class reunions, any business endorsements, any for-profit events and organizations — especially any that have no direct connection to the city — and all political and controversial issues.

In practical terms that means that a Peachtree City Day of Remembrance for the late John Jacob Jingleheimer Smith will not get past the city manager’s desk. But more substantively, neither will a proclamation for a National Day of Prayer. Questions also may arise about Christmas season observance at City Hall.

More discussions to come.

The usually collegial meetings often produce unanimous or nearly unanimous votes for or against agenda items. An exception to the unanimity last week was a pizza restaurant’s request to paint a big sign on its outside brick wall in The Avenue.

That’s against the city sign ordinance, but the council granted a variance to Positano Pizza, which wanted its local sign to be just like its signs in other locations — red paint on bricks. Councilmen Kevin Madden and Phil Prebor disliked the precedent being set and voted against it.

“What’s to keep every other business from asking for the same thing?” Madden asked.

Councilman Mike King said The Avenue already had two painted wall murals and he had no objections to a painted sign.

The vote was 3-to-2 in favor of the painted pizza wall sign.

Girls softball teams and fans will have an easier time getting to the ball-field in south Peachtree City after the council approved a land swap to allow an access road. The swap was a no-cash deal for the strip adjacent to Meade Field.

2 COMMENTS

  1. City council may be able to play baseball or football, but never ice hockey or basketball. What that means is in football and baseball, there is a pause in the action and teams switch their focus from offense to defense or vice-versa. In hockey and basketball, offense and defensive changes can occur instantly and several times within a minute or two and some of the players may be confused about whether their role is defensive or offensive.

    The city councils here from the beginning thru the Lenox administration knew the business of Peachtree City was growth and they acted proactively (a nice kind of offense) and we were rewarded with a functioning town of over 30,000. Most of those early mayors were reelected to a second term – sometimes more. Then came the 12 year drought beginning 2001 – the next 3 administrations did not do much during their 3 solo terms, but what they did was defensive and in a couple of cases even destructive.

    Now in the waning years of the Fleisch administration comes a choice – either write up some new regulations. to prevent or limit something like the much hated buzzword “density”. This action is defensive. Or, they can go on offense and do something proactive such as plan ahead. Not a bad idea in a planned community.

    Clearly the Williams Circle neighborhood buyout has staff spooked because they have no control except to limit density – an age-old technique by city councils not prepared to play both offense and defense. The Booth school relocation made the school board look like the fools they are, but PTC City Council didn’t cover themselves in glory either. They should have seen that coming and tweaked the land use plan to accommodate it it or kill it. They should also be thinking about alternate uses for the old Booth school. They could even use some of the windfall dollars from hotel/motel tax that funds a lot of fluff in the Visitor’s Center and their vans.

    Come on Vanessa, get your people on the ball. You have so much talent in this city – some on staff but also civilians like Jim Strickland, Jim Pace, Bill Foley, Jerry Peterson, Mike Lorber and others who could help you proactively design alternative land uses for the obsolete 40 and 50 year-old shopping centers, apartments, office parks and subdivisions. Bank buildings and K-Marts too. They can also help with a protect the border strategy. Use them. They are resources – valuable ones. 50 and 60 year-old ordinances should certainly be updated as well, but do it sensibly. One helpful hint is that the deed restrictions often used to limit property uses to a specific type of business all expire in 20 years. Hardly any are still enforceable. This is another area where you need to play offense.

    Get proactive Vanessa. Your administration can be in the top 3 along with those of Bob Lenox and Fred “the real mayor” Brown. Please avoid being associated with the other 3 do-nothing administrations. Aggressive planning for redevelopment in your last two years might encourage a more proactive new mayor to follow you than just a budget hawk who wants to ax recreation because we are aging. Even if it is only baseball, put the ball in play. Don’t sit on the bench.