Planning Commission delays rezoning vote on Carriage Lane-Hwy. 54 development

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Stagecoach Road resident Larry Manwaring on March 9 spoke in opposition to the proposed commercial and residential development at Carriage Lane an Ga. Highway 54. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Stagecoach Road resident Larry Manwaring on March 9 spoke in opposition to the proposed commercial and residential development at Carriage Lane an Ga. Highway 54. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Attorney Rick Lindsey at the March 9 meeting of the Peachtree City Planning Commission. Photo/Ben Nelms.
Attorney Rick Lindsey at the March 9 meeting of the Peachtree City Planning Commission. Photo/Ben Nelms.

A proposed rezoning of 21 acres at Ga. Highway 54 and Carriage Lane for a commercial and residential development was tabled after the public hearing was held at the March 9 meeting of the Peachtree City Planning Commission.

The item was tabled due to late changes made to the proposal that did not give planning commissioners sufficient time to review. The suggestion to table was made at the outset by attorney Rick Lindsey, representing the developer, with commissioners taking that approach and voting to table the item after a partial presentation and public comments.

As originally proposed, the development would include an unspecified amount of commercial on 5.3 acres at the intersection of Hwy. 54 and Carriage Lane, and 154 townhomes situated on the remainder of the 21-acre property.

The initial rezoning proposed that 11 residential lots be converted to commercial space and 154 townhomes, though at the meeting a combination of townhomes and single-family homes was noted. Clarifying the changes, Lindsey after the meeting said the proposal now called for a total of 144 owner-occupied residences with no apartments and no rentals.

As for the commercial space, the applicant said it would take the form of a European village which, like that entirety of the development, would be upscale.

A check of the Fayette County tax map showed that the 11 residential lots carry a total fair market value of approximately $2.7 million.

All but two of the 14 people speaking in public comments were opposed to the proposed rezoning.

One of the speakers, nearby resident Nina Fallon, identified herself as a millennial who, along with her husband, had chosen Peachtree City as the place to raise their family. Questioning the proposal for more commercial space, Fallon noted the number of vacant storefronts already in evidence in the immediate area.

Also noting the trend of older people wanting to downsize, which is a trend both locally and nationwide, Fallon questioned if retirees would want to live between a state highway and a middle school. Her reference was to the planned re-location of Booth Middle School a short distance away on Carriage Lane.

Most speaking in public comments referenced the traffic burden that would be placed on the intersection of Carriage Lane and Hwy. 54. One of those was area resident Scott Austensen, who said the project sounded great, while noting the heavy impact of traffic, both with the proposed development and the plans of the Fayette County Board of Education to build the replacement Booth Middle School further down Carriage Lane.

Carriage Lane resident Kelly Ranes also posed concerns about traffic, noting the school system’s traffic study covering both Carriage Lane and nearby Stagecoach Road that gave poor grades to both intersections. The traffic study could not take into account the current development proposal.

The Citizen published an article on the traffic study on Sept. 29, 2019, which can be viewed here.

Beyond the low ratings received in the study, based on the projected 3,196 daily trips to and from the new Booth Middle School, the traffic study recommended splitting school traffic between Carriage Lane and the privately-owned Stagecoach Road.

Pertaining to the level of service (LOS), the Highway Capacity Manual defines six levels. Those are rate A-F, with “A” being the best and “F” being the worst.

The LOS rating for all three scenarios had morning and afternoon ratings for the intersections at Hwy. 54 and Robinson Road and Hwy. 54 at Carriage Lane showing a LOS of D or E.

For its part, Peachtree City Mayor Vanessa Fleisch at the Sept. 25, 2019 meeting of the Fayette County Board of Education opposed the location of the replacement Booth Middle on property between Carriage Lane and Stagecoach Road.

“Please accept this letter as formal notice of our opposition to the Stagecoach Road/Carriage Lane location for the construction of a proposed new middle school. With very limited improvement options, this site will place an undue burden on the transportation network in the immediate vicinity. Based on our previous experience, traffic improvements can easily reach millions of dollars with limited impact on mobility within the corridor. No such funds are included in the current or future Peachtree City budgets. Further, we request that a comprehensive traffic study be conducted that incorporates the impact of the school, along with proposed new development in the area, before a final decision is made on the location of a new school,” Fleisch said.

16 COMMENTS

  1. Silly, useless debate we are having now. 30 years ago it was obvious that Stagecoach was not developed or paved and that the Williams Circle houses (some built by Pete Knox in 1960) would be a priority neighborhood to be redeveloped. Since it was also obvious the developer of PTC didn’t own any of the land or houses, they weren’t going to redevelop it.

    So, the city had a choice.
    1. Create a land-use category on the land-use plan that encouraged the type of redevelopment that the city would approve, maybe go a step further and suggest a zoning category.
    2. Do nothing and take a defensive position to deflect all creative ideas – especially any that had density or a chance of succeeding. It should be noted that sometimes density is needed to provide success.

    Predictably picking door #2, the city now has to send the defense onto the field of play. This is going to get turned down and dumped like so many other proposals. Too bad as I saw a ray of hope when the innovative new project on Petrol Point was approved. That’s a real winner.

    Vanessa, you and city council, staff and planning commission are the ones responsible for redevelopment in PTC. You can either act defensively or you can provide some guidance to everyone including outside developers as to what the city actually would approve on certain obvious redevelopment sites. Too much for staff, you say? Good time to call on the civilian talent that just happens to live here. They can help quite a bit. Start with Jim Strickland.

      • That’s a false premise, Happy Days. It is not a choice between those 2 things. I suggest creating a plan ahead of time that everyone in the city including the neighbors can either endorse, fight, move away or gradually come to accept. The actual question would then be “Do you want to leave Williams Circle and surrounding area and streets as is OR do you want to see it redeveloped according to one specific plan that contains all details – only one of which is density”.

        The question you pose is like saying automobiles are going to consume 25 times more gasoline than horses do. Progress (even for Progressives) is about change, improvement and compromise. I suspect us old people will be amazed at what types of compromises the Millennial generation and the next one deems acceptle.

        • The quality of the plan determines if a change is an improvement or a step backwards. Furthermore, my hope is that no generation or age group will find it acceptable to take advantage of their neighbors for short-term personal gain. If PTC becomes known for ignoring its zoning regulations, the value of all our homes is in jeopardy.

          • Of course I do! Do you realize I am not talking about the present proposal here. I am talking about why we are here today with a questionable proposal – which may or may not be better than doing nothing and a school looming down the road with limited access.

            We are faced with all this because current and previous city council’s failed to plan ahead and recognize that redevelopment will occur and the super obvious that we would be getting lot’s of odd proposals on our borders, most interested in sewer access above quality.

            If the city would plan ahead and tell the public, the neighbors and future developers what the city considers acceptable and approvable, they would get proposed developments (and eventually redevelopments) that make sense. That’s better than just reacting to every jack-leg plan that comes down the road. After all, these people have to guess at what the city might do. In fact staff has to guess as well.

  2. Booth Middle School has 1,200 students on Peachtree Parkway, which offers two lanes for traffic in both directions. The new middle school will have 1,400 students with all traffic forced to travel Carriage Lane. The school board knew the Carriage Lane and Hwy 54 Intersection already scores an “F”, but they approved this new middle school anyway. If they modify the traffic light to a full minute to allow 20 vehicles per green light…you could have to wait for up to 20 different green lights on Carriage Lane, which only has two lanes. Now someone wants to rezone the little street to ADD 154 new homes and more commercial buildings. Why are they avoiding the comprehensive traffic study the GODT requires? (Georgia Department of Transportation)

    • A better question is – did City Council vote to lift the multi-family moratorium to allow Planning Commission and staff to work on this project? If yes, I missed it. If no, why hasn’t someone stopped this cold. Townhomes are multi-family.

      Or did someone soft shoe their way around this by saying some of the following things – many I have heard in City Council meetings – here and elsewhere.
      1. Multi-family means apartments where one owner owns the entire complex.
      2. Condominiums are multi-family because they require a homeowner’s association.
      3. Condominiums are not multi-family because they are individually owned like houses.
      4. Condominiums are multi-family because they are stacked on top of each other like apartments
      5. Townhomes that stand side by side and have a street entrance and garage are not multi-family.
      6. Townhomes and condominiums can be multi-family if they can be rented out by the owner.
      7. Any housing above a density of 4 units per acre is multi-family.
      If you said yes to any of the 7 statements above, you are wrong. Let’s hope staff and council didn’t get one wrong when agreeing to let the townhomes be considered for the Stagecoach project.

      For you curious folks who want to know what multi-family in PTC actually means – here it is

      “Any residential dwelling unit that is attached to another (horizontally or vertically) regardless of the type of ownership”. That’s paraphrased from the exact, but pretty clear meaning.
      The city uses GR followed by the maximum density allowed as the zoning designation for each parcel. GR-14 for most apartments like Gables Court or condos like Ridgelake. And they frequently slip in under LUC categories without the actual density being specified – like Lexington Circle’s townhomes – zoned LUC-16.

      Making it even more confusing, the city has allowed single-family detached medium density housing to be built in GR categories – Village Park is only about 5 units per acre but its zoning was (and possibly still is) GR-12. Same with Fairfield at GR-10. And famously – Cedar Croft and the Camden apartments – in commercial zoning.

  3. The School was a huge mistake.
    But all reason and pleading fell on deaf ears.
    Thank you for trying Mayor Fleisch.
    Who owns Stagecoach Rd? The property owners who live on that road. Are the property owners going to be reimbursed when their quiet road is forcibly taken from them? Will the developers (and school system) maintain the road that they destroy by all the heavy traffic?

  4. Even with the revised number of 144 units on about 15 acres, this proposal has a density 25-30 times greater than the surrounding areas in Carriage Lane, Hyde Park, or down the east side of Robinson Road which is zoned ER, Estate Residential with 3-5 acre lots.

  5. Why did the Planning Commission pass on to the City Council this proposal that was admittedly so woefully inadequate that they could not judge its merits? Shouldn’t any revised proposal first pass public scrutiny with full review and a recommendation from the Planning Commission? If not, why even have a Planning Commission meeting with a public hearing? Will future development planners intentionally present inadequate plans so they too might skip this step?