Citizens, wake up: Peachtree City’s village concept is threatened

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Most of us, maybe all of us, moved to Peachtree City for its lifestyle. Several self-contained “villages” where you feel comfortable, a beautiful planned community. Wow, our own little Mayberry near Atlanta, at least in theory.

However, for some unknown reason, that’s not what some of our elected officials want, regardless of the taxpayers who elected them.

The mayor and City Council applied for and obtained a grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) to complete a so-called “Livable Centers Initiative” for our city.

This effort updates a 2001 initiative that did not result in much improvement, unless you consider the mess along Ga. Highway 54 near Walmart where we have stores and restaurants clogging up the road an improvement.

Actually, the 2001 initiative was also to construct stores on the other side of Hwy. 54 as well, but that never was approved. Thank goodness, as all that would have added even more cars to this already overburdened traffic area.

This new initiative focuses on again, you guessed it, the heavily congested Hwy. 54/74 intersection, down to and including the area around the City Hall, Drake Field and Lake Peachtree. It also includes the City Tennis Center, West Park shopping area and Huddleston Road. All-in-all, over 800 acres.

City leadership certainly could have selected several other areas to build up that would have been much more beneficial to the citizens and the city. But no, this is what they selected.

Among other “improvements,” the study contractor suggested was to add townhomes along the area in front of Drake Field, and multi-use housing/shopping where we now have the Willow Bend Shopping Mall near City Hall.

Boy, wouldn’t these be helpful for the congestion along Hwy. 54? Both of these will only add additional traffic to Hwy. 54, increasing cars in an already horribly congested area, the worst in the county by far.

Several other options the study contractor is reviewing include removing the city’s Tennis Center and adding lower income housing. That will also certainly improve traffic along the Hwy. 54/74 corridor, as well as helping our tax rolls. Sure, it will.

And another idea is this same housing and or multi-use commercial/housing along Huddleston Road.

Now to be honest, some of these options include proposing adding additional roads to reduce the additional traffic that will certainly come, but we all know what will come first, don’t we? And, we heard those promises before.

Let’s just help future developers (who also might just happen to be a big campaign contributors) to build what they want. We all know that developers are always honest folks who follow through on their promises, right?

Once the study gets the city ordinances changed, the developers will no doubt manage to get the future leadership to allow them to build whatever they can.

The city must do an accurate polling of residents to find out their true feelings on this matter. But so far they have not.

Instead, they have a Study contractor randomly asking people to fill out forms. This is unacceptable and inaccurate but serves the purposes of those politicians and their contributors who want more development along Hwy. 54. And they claim this will reduce flow-through traffic.

You don’t need to have a master’s degree in Urban Planning or Traffic Control to know this will not work; it will increase congestion substantially.

So, I am writing this article to tell all PTC citizens to wake up and do the following things:

1. Go online to www.peachtreecitylci.com to complete the survey so you can state your opinion on these options.

2. Contact your City Councilperson and the Mayor expressing your opinion that there is no need for an expanded city center on and near Hwy. 54 that will increase already unbearable traffic and that a scientifically accurate poll needs to be done before proceeding.

If you don’t, regardless of the desires of PTC citizens, the ARC-funded study team will complete their work and incorrectly, inaccurately recommend one or several of these options to your elected officials, who will no doubt be told the majority of the citizens of PTC voted for the option they recommended.

If you have difficulty using the computer, ask a friend, a grandchild or anyone who can take a few minutes to assist you.

But vote!

The vast majority of PTC citizens like PTC the way it is, with the big exception of the traffic situation, caused by past developers and an overly accommodating city government.

We do not need the Atlanta Regional Commission to come down here to change our “village concept” city into a Buckhead, what they — not us — believe it should look like.

If you do not tell your elected representatives what you like (the village concept) and what you don’t like (adding even more traffic onto Hwy. 54), you will regret it sooner rather than later.

Jack Bernard

Peachtree City, Ga.

[Bernard is a former member of the Peachtree City Planning Commission.]

20 COMMENTS

  1. I do not want to ask the City to erect “village” signs now. They are nice to have, but right now nice to have things aren’t warranted until City revenues increase. Let’s just promote funding for “must have” things for awhile. A single person can think of enough things to keep 10,000 people busy and empty a treasury while doing so. However, for planning purposes, maybe a flagged budget item is appropriate, but only if the villages want it. My question on village signage is, “How do villages collectively communicate their wants?” I do not think all villages have HOAs (Homeowners Associations) and those that do may not have HOAs representing an entire village.

    • OK, I’m not sure we are discussing the same thing, but if the signs and their re-erection expense (about $700) bother you – we will drop the idea. No problem.

      Same thing with HOA’s (the worst invention since the designated hitter).I’d rather serve in Joe Biden’s cabinet than listen to input from some HOA people in PTC.

      • I agree with you about the HOAs, I don’t care for them. I wonder if the voting precincts are aligned with the villages. If so, determining the villagers’ support for redevelopment activity is a “no-brainer.”

        • In a perfect world they would, but not now and not here. The villages are logical and geographical and simply a creation of the developer sanctioned by the city. Voting precincts follow population and census numbers, but get all mixed up by special interest groups and political considerations.

  2. Agree completely Doug. Elected officials are almost always good and dedicated people when they start out, although many believe their IQ increased 30 points simply because they won an election and thankfully PTC has only had 2 mayors and maybe 3 council people in recent history which isn’t too bad considering what some counties, cities and states have had to endure.

    Yes NIMBY’s are not always bad even though the self-interest is sometimes comical like the lady who trespassed for years walking her dog and she actually stated that in a public rezoning hearing as a reason to deny the rezoning. Other NIMBY”s are useful – prime recent example the Great Wolf Water Park.

    You ask my ideas on redevelopment? OK, I have written about it endlessly, served on 2 citizen groups convened by the city on redevelopment and annexation (which like it or not are 2 things that are tied together) and have done enough rezoning to understand the process. Here it is: Very simply the city should be proactive about redevelopment and annexation. That’s not to say they rezone, redevelop or annex everything or anything, but just identify what parcels of land might need one of those 3 adjustments and discuss what is best for the city BEFORE a developer comes in with a proposal. To do it properly, modifying the land
    use plan with a recommended use would show that developer ahead of time what type of thing might be approved without shooting for something totally unreasonable and wasting time and money.

    Some annexations should be strongly opposed to protect our borders and preserve sewer capacity – others should should be supported, like those creating a gateway or entry statement. Rezoning property from an antiquated land use to something useful is a form of redevelopment. 2 recent ones come to mind. Petrol Point was driven by the developer, but the city had plenty of input on previous proposals that showed they strongly supported that rezoning and the new use. Those luxury condos on the Planterra golf course (actually at the end of the airport runway) was silly from the beginning, but all that could have been avoided had the city PREVIOUSLY provided guidance with an alternative use.

    Partners Pizza in Braelinn using an obsolete bank building – perfect. More redevelopment of bank buildings, strip centers, spot townehomes and apartments from the 1970’s, K-mart space, Williams Circle, Willowbend Center, Aberdeen Shopping Center, 2 conference centers – the beginning of a long list of potential redevelopment to consider.

    It is really pretty simple and to put it in a sports context like ice hockey or soccer, the city can choose to be on offense and think of scoring points and winning or it can choose to be on defense simply reacting to an outside developer’s attempt to score by using 1 goalie and a lot of luck.

    • Got it. Most of the above I can easily agree. If we don’t do somethings for ourselves, someone will do something to us. However, I think you reached up and picked the low hanging fruit. Is there any benefit to changing zoning and/or ordinances to allow for high rises in certain parts of the city? Does the City need to make long term investments into infrastructure, such as lighting high use multipurpose paths, extending sewerage lines to places with septic systems, changing ordinances to allow residents to perform certain improvements to their homes, as well as other things to aid residential and commercial redevelopment on a small and large scale? Should we look at garage apartments, garden districts, victory gardens, home businesses? The possibilities to reinvest and redevelop within the confines of our neighborhoods and commercial areas are nearly limitless. We’ve completed surveys upon surveys and I think the City has responded as well as anyone can with consideration given to financial limitations. I personally don’t have the answers, but I do have plenty of questions.

      • You have gotten beyond the tip of the iceberg, Doug. Garage apartments, lighting cart paths, high rise, etc. Sounds odd at first, but it is not. It is exactly what I have preached about redevelopment – or specifically the consequences of not proactively addressing the complex issues surrounding redevelopment.

        Just take those 3 and use your imagination after that:

        1. Garage apartments? Just a start. Convert your garage to an in-law suite? Sure. Good idea. Better idea is for the city to consider the impact of multi-generational housing. I’ve got 5,000 square feet and with minimal construction I could have 12 people living here – including relatives on welfare, kids who would go to PTC schools and maybe a renter who could be a sexual predator or peeping tom or a mugger who specializes in cart paths. Should I or the family that buys my house be allowed to do that? Can the city realistically prevent that?
        2. Lighting the high use cart paths? How about all the cart paths. See my mugger/renter in #1 above.
        3. High rise? Why? To create affordable housing – or if the next President can’t get the unemployment rate down, welfare housing will be needed. Can’t do that without subsiding the rent or upping the density (5+ story housing) or both. Has anyone been to the alphabet buildings in NYC?

        Now somebody is going to say they don’t want that and they are seriously going to believe that’s all they have to do to make that problem disappear. Fine, you can ignore the obvious problem or you can plan for it. Choose wisely.

        Doug and I (and some others) have raised some questions, now it is time for some answers. Planning ahead, being proactive and being realistic about what’s coming over the next 10 years is what our elected leaders need to focus upon.

    • That is possible, I guess. If Biden wins the Presidential Election and the Democratic Party bows down to his every grunt like the Republican Party did for Trump, we can be in for a rough ride.

      • Rough ride if Biden elected? Duh! Doug. PINO (I just made that up – it means President In Name Only) -PINO Biden will be asking VP (and real President) Kamala, Susan or God help us Elizabeth to enact whatever the progressive fools that elected him want for the country.

        Much angst at national level, but locally in less than 2 years we will have old folks and businesses moving out, no new folks moving in and 70% decline in real estate values. Those people in Clayton County who used to scam their way into our schools will now be legal because Stoneybrook at $200k and Planterra at $100k and Wynmeade at $70k and Twiggs at $30k (close to their original price) will be the norm – or the new normal as the progs like to say.

        Multi-generational houses will become the new norm. 3 generations which is kind of cute will become normal in 4 BR houses. The 6 and 7 BR mini McMansions can easily accommodate 3 generations plus 6 or 7 cousins working on the landscape crew.

        Police force will be reduced, but most will be hired as private security by those few who can afford to live in their own house. The rest of us will be glad we bought guns and ammo back when we could afford it.

        Drake Field will become the designated protest venue and we can expect burning cars, trees and boats. – all on TV nightly. No need for the July 4 fireworks.

        “What Happened” will no longer be a Hillary book, it will be the subject of a seminar given by Merrill Lynch, Edw. Jones and others about why your retirement account has declined by 80%. It will be held at the Gathering Place and then moved to the amphitheater as attendance skyrockets above 3,000.

        You would think that $5/gal. gas because the PINO/VP or someone outlawed fracking, would upset someone but it doesn’t because restaurants, hotels, resorts and cruise ships are all shut down and nobody has anywhere to go. The second step is $10/gal. gas along with heat and AC that goes on and off because wind and solar power is not that good. That might upset the regular folks – or maybe not.

        We shall see.

  3. Mike King, it is very unfortunate that a public official like your self spouts off incorrect information:
    * I went to the first ARC/City meeting at City Hall. YOU did not attend. I filled out a questionnaire (which was biased regarding the framing of questions) and spoke to two ARC people afterward. It was clear that they were under marching orders. PTC will have a city center, regardless of the Hwy 54-74 traffic problems it would create. After that, I decided that it was a waste of time in that the issue was already decided.
    *Again, you are incorrect about the ARC study being free. You should know that the City is contributing $28,000 since you approved the budget. Are you having memory issues?
    * The City needs to address the traffic situation, via alternate routes around the City ( in conjunction with Fayette and Coweta Counties), not add cars to an already congested intersection.
    *If you really thought that PTC residents approved, you would have dome a statistically sound survey. You did not.
    * As I remember, you were one of the advocates for a City policy permitting suing citizens that disagreed with you. But you caved in at voting time.

  4. Well Mr Bernard, in a mere posting you have joined the ranks of Don Haddix and others(except for being locally elected) who extol the virtues of knowing all things Peachtree City. Should you expend a bit of time to converse with either of the five folks elected to represent you as your City Council, or maybe take the time to attend a meeting or two, you might just discover what we wish for our town is contrary to what you allege.
    Yes, the ARC is doing a study for us(totally via grant money with no match) and will report back. Hopefully you will take the time to come.
    Mayberry is still back in the 60’s, and that study that didn’t cost us anything might just garner a decent idea.

  5. As I have said repeatedly since about 1999, redevelopment is the most important issue in the future of PTC. That was postponed when Scarboro, Wieland and others got that Macduff stuff approved.

    But now for better or worse that is done or at least fully “planned”, so I repeat – the most important thing to consider in PTC after balancing the budget and learning to live within our means is – redevelopment. Electing someone who understands the redevelopment process is unlikely even though there are probably 4 or 5 people who live here that actually are professionals on redevelopment. Of course they are retired and too smart to enter the political process.

    That leaves us with the choice of electing NIMBY’s who cling to the twice-updated 60 year old land use plan or progressive thinkers who view everything for its teardown potential (Exhibit A Aberdeen Shopping Center proposal 2 years ago) or grant junkies who think that groups that throw money around to encourage new urbanization and mass transit (the ARC) are the solution.

    Of course nobody running for office is dumb enough to openly state they belong to one of those 3 groups. And most running for (or currently occupying) elected office are not educationally equipped to oversee redevelopment in any form. Therefore we are left with outside developers with a profit motive to come inland tell us what we need. And because we have not planned for the future proactively or even acknowledged the need for redevelopment by identifying the most likely areas, we will swat away at one developer proposal after another. Some will get done, some won’t, none will be planned properly with the city’s goals in mind because the city has no goals because they don’t think about redevelopment proactively.

    Those are the facts – not a pretty picture. For whatever it is worth, I too favor the village concept and always thought it was part of the charm of this wonderful place I have called home for 30 years.

    • I agree redevelopment is key to PTC’s future desirability. What are your concepts and ideas? The NIMBY is not necessarily bad, sacrifices for the public good isn’t always right. I think our currently elected officials, are good people who do a good job. I also think many “grant junkies” will sell our souls in pursuit of temporary posterity or kicking the can a little further down the road.

        • Maybe in the Great Wolf in our neighborhood world, or Walmart in our backyard, along with a strip club, use car lot, or airport. There are a lot of people who live where they are comfortable and don’t consider money as their single most important value.

          • Since we are speaking about the city abandoning the village concept, I suddenly remembered about 6 or 7 years ago under the Haddix regime reign of error they removed the signs that announced the entry to the various villages in PTC. What was that about?

            Since it was a Haddix thing, I would think that Vanessa and King who endured a portion of those terrible years would be supportive of redoing that terrible idea.

            What do you think? Village signs good or bad? Want them back? What was the dinosaur’s name? I thought he was cool – almost as cool as the manatee.

          • I like the village concept to the point of villages having weighted input on authoritative decisions impacting the villages. Should the villages have signs presenting entry into the villages? I think if villages want them, they obtain the appropriate right-of-way approval and erect them.

          • They have the approval, Doug – simply city signs on city property plus they were there for over 30 years, updated with new signs around 1990. In fact the foundation and base are still there on the ones I drive past.

            Best thing about the village concept is that it protected the retailers. It was strongly suggested (but not mandated) that each village would have 1 supermarket, 1 drug store, 1 of each type of restaurant, 1 liquor store, etc. Made perfect sense in that each retailer would service a built-in nearby base of 10,000 people and any competition they might have would be in one of the other 3 villages.

            Big box approval weakened that concept, but it was still good to have a village identity. Why the Haddix regime removed them hasn’t been explained, but no one wants to hear him explain anything. This city council can reinstate the signs and the village identity with one vote. The signs are down there at public works off McIntosh.

            I suspect all this talk about PTC needing a “downtown” overwhelms any nostalgia for the village concept. Too bad. One more thing we lose because of “progress”.