Redeveloping a planned city: So many questions, few honest answers

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Well, the City Council’s August 13 workshop meeting was a bust. Mayor Fleisch addressed the crowd for 15-20 minutes on subjects that had absolutely nothing to do with Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plans that were supposed to be discussed. Likewise, the mayor refused to allow any of the packed venue full of citizens to offer comment.

In response to the mayor’s shunning an opportunity to listen to the citizens who elected her, a petition in opposition to the horrendous plans has been created. Please join your neighbors and let us hope we can end the foolishness.

Here is the link for the digital petition: http://chng.it/H4RxyFjJLm and please have each voter in your family sign individually.

Also, there is a public comment session scheduled at the Kedron Fieldhouse (202 Fieldhouse Drive) at 6:00 pm on Thursday, October 22. Thus far, the public comment through surveys and such has been overwhelmingly negative.

This LCI process began with the city hiring an urban planning firm to create urban-like plans that do not resemble anything like the traditional planning that attracted all of us to Peachtree City.

The urban planners lived up to their expectations and created one plan that called for apartments and retail stores on our beloved Drake Field on Lake Peachtree, next to City Hall. To say I was in shock when first viewing that plan was an understatement. However, our city planners liked the concept of building that junk on our gorgeous preserved green space and introduced it to the public at a September 5 display.

Allow me to explain the common theme of the radically dense urban planning with LCI. They do not give a darn about the existing residents, and it is all about giving people who do not even live here and have never paid a nickel of taxes the best of everything at our expense. Truly, how else could you explain them taking one of our premiere natural jewels like Drake Field and building apartments on top of it? And to make a horrible scenario even worse, they wanted to turn an adjacent playground into a new single-family subdivision.

There second effort was the Westpark plan. Hold on to your seat. The plan calls for existing office and retail buildings to be demolished and replaced with more multi-family housing buildings. It gets even worse; they also want to also build these apartments in current green spaces and in protected buffers on that site.

Let’s not forget that Westpark has some of the worst access on to Highways 54 and 74, and now they want to really make it ultra-congested by packing the area with apartments and townhomes. Like that is all we need adjacent to the Highways 74-54 intersection.

Now this is the same City Council who constantly complains about not having enough real estate remaining to build industrial, office and retail, yet they keep moving to rezone every available piece of land to residential. It is totally schizophrenic.

The urban planners claim the benefit to this Westpark plan is the new people who have never lived here nor paid a nickel in taxes get a convenient walk to a shopping center. On the other hand, existing residents get nothing out of the Westpark plan except a significant increase in traffic at the worst intersection in Fayette County and a major battle over who is getting pushed out of their school attendance districts.

Next is the urban planners’ Huddleston plan on Huddleston Road. This one is a real crazy party crasher.

At first, the City Council wanted the Tennis Center demolished after millions and millions of dollars of investment and have an, you guessed it, apartment complex built in its place. Thousands of signatures on a petition caused the city to do an about-face on the Tennis Center.

The Huddleston plan calls for a massive mixed-use development, lots retail buildings, a single-family subdivision and apartments on one of the most congested sections roads in the entire county. To be consistent, this plan also gets worse because they intend to channel a great deal of the traffic on to the subdivision entrance for Planterra Ridge and Cardiff Park at Planterra Way because the Huddleston Road intersection is a nightmare now.

The absolute last thing we need on Highway 54 West is another outpouring of automobiles and even more pressure on pushing existing students out of their current school attendance districts.

Our City Planner was so bold as to say we had to give the landowners the “highest and best” use of their property at the expense of the all the existing residents. She even said their real estate holdings were their retirement plans and she used it as an excuse to justify overdeveloping the sites to our detriment.

To her credit, the City Planner admitted the small project GDOT has planned for the Highways 74-54 intersection will not be a viable solution. It is a “budget constrained” project meant to look like something meaningful.

This is not the first time we have had to fight-back this City Council. There was the Great Wolf Lodge on top of a neighboring subdivision, the Calistoa “mini-city” that was going to be at the end of our airport runway and the high-density downtown apartments debacle that no one wanted.

When Mayor Fleisch first ran for office she promised to uphold the city’s land plan. She has totally abandoned it now. I wish she would resign under the veil of no confidence.

This was the same City Council who did away with the decades old moratorium preventing land to be rezoned to multi-family. They told us there was no land left to build apartments. They obviously lied to us.

Supposedly, these foolhardy plans are “walkable,” meaning the new people in the proposed apartments who never lived here and never paid a nickel in taxes will not need an automobile, walking everywhere they go, no extra traffic, nothing to worry about. They must think we are idiots.

Councilmen Mike King and Terry Ernst actually want Planterra Ridge to take over all their streets and infrastructure and pay for the maintenance on their own. After all the taxes the subdivision homeowners have paid towards roads, stormwater infrastructure, etc. and King and Ernst want the subdivision to drastically raise their annual HOA dues, just so they can overdevelop Huddleston Road and cause significant new burdens on us all.

I have listed some my questions sent to the City Planner below and have yet to receive an answer.

Why is there no consideration of the impact on existing homeowners and business who have been funding the government through their taxes for decades? Why would preference in planning thought be given to people who do not reside here and never paid a nickel of taxes?

Who was responsible for proposing that preserved green spaces and the like should be built upon as part of the LCI?

Realistically, do proposals that focus on multi-family development really help a city that is complaining about the cost of providing services now? When the chief complaints from the citizens are traffic congestion and no land to attract new corporate jobs, is more traffic-causing, land-eating, multi-family development the answer?

Should we not accuse the City Council and staff of lying to the citizens when we were all told that the long-standing moratorium on rezoning multi-family housing was no longer necessary due to a lack of available sites, and then multi-family developments are quickly introduced in the LCI proposals?

Mayor Fleisch has consistently attempted to force high density development and added traffic congestion on the citizens for years (“Mayor Fleisch calls for higher density in redeveloping older areas,” The Citizen, January 24, 2019).

The article states, “Fleisch said the Great Recession taught city leaders that initiatives pertaining to redevelopment, increased density and annexation should be adopted.”

Is that now the official land planning policy of the city? The City Council has budgeted for a complete overhaul of the Development and Zoning ordinances. What sections need to be overhauled and are you going to lead another New Urbanism themed challenge to our existing planning that has made us the envy of other municipalities and consistently attracted high-income, civic-minded families?

Does the city government recognize the huge number of apartments constructed in Fayetteville and do you have any idea of the ramifications from rental market saturation in Fayette County and what that does to the rental market countywide? If yes, what is the city’s position?

Who was responsible for proposing the demolition or redevelopment of the Tennis Center as part of “Option 2, add mix of uses and new streets, redevelops Tennis Center” and what was the rationale?

How could you honestly think that the nearly 500 families of Planterra Ridge and Cardiff Park would not feel insulted and neglected by the Huddleston proposal?

Why can’t the city government focus on the 74-54 intersection and drop the harmful plans?

The ridiculous plans must stop. We should not be locked in a constant struggle to force our City Council to do the right thing and follow our extraordinarily successful land plans.

The Fleisch, King and Ernst cabal are scheming through the City Planner to make significant changes to our city’s zoning ordinances and proposed zoning maps. They want to homogenize Peachtree City into the same urban land planning format used over most of metro Atlanta. That’s not why we moved here.

Send a message, sign the petition. Come offer your comments on Thursday, October 22. We have a great thing going, let’s not allow a few errant officials to destroy it.

Steve Brown

Peachtree City, Ga.

[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and former Fayette County Commissioner]

14 COMMENTS

  1. Bricks for Henry

    You can’t possibly be this obtuse, so from now on I will treat you as an activist.

    Here is a 3rd grade level explanation that disputes the scenario of a peaceful protester grabbing his baseball bat on his (or her) umbrella stand to take to the peaceful protest and then just picks up some bricks up on the sidewalk on the way to the peaceful protest.

    Have seen video of the rental vans and even box trucks pulling up and unloading baseball bats, bricks and other things several hours before dark and long before the alleged organic peaceful protest starts up. Then hours after that the bats and bricks show up for the rioting. The leaders with communication headsets, bodyguards, surveillance drones and getaway cars to their luxury hotel accommodations make it even less likely that these protests are individually inspired.

    I think you are just goofing on us. Most of us are not that stupid. I like Trump’s solution for these people – 10 years in federal prison.

    • Let’s assume for the sake of argument that the protests are indeed organized by Socialists and Marxists. Why would they accept money from the corporations that they want to dismantle?

      Why do they need to have corporate backers anyway? Is it beyond your imagination that a group of politically motivated people can organize local protests? So what if some people have headsets, you can get some for ~10 bucks at best buy and plug them into a smartphone. Surveillance drones, someone bought a drone a few years ago when they were cool new toy everyone needed to have and decided that the protests would make for a pretty cool shot. Body guards or people ready to defend themselves when the police resort to violence. In the vast majority of cases the police have been the ones to throw the first punch. Tear gas is not a proportional response to a water bottle. In the cases of bricks, the actions of one individual do not mean that the whole crowd should be gassed.

      Collective punishment is literally a war crime and so is using tear gas, but that hasn’t stopped the police. Call me a Utopian dreamer or whatever you want, but in my opinion nations should not be doing things to their own people that would be a war crime if done to another nations people.

      “Under the 1949 Geneva Conventions, collective punishment is a war crime… Entire villages or towns or districts were held responsible for any resistance activity that occurred at those places.[5] The conventions, to counter this, reiterated the principle of individual responsibility. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentary to the conventions states that parties to a conflict often would resort to “intimidatory measures to terrorize the population” in hopes of preventing hostile acts, but such practices ‘strike at guilty and innocent alike. They are opposed to all principles based on humanity and justice.'”

      Tell me that tear gassing an entire crowd for the actions of one person or a small group of people, isn’t an example of collective punishment. I’m all for people getting punished for their actions, but punishing people who haven’t done anything illegal other than walking down the street is government over reach.

      • Your first paragraph is a silly attempt to divert and introduces so-called “facts” not in evidence. I never said a word about Socialists, Marxists or corporations, but I will now. Socialists and Marxists are either dumb or impractical teens and young people in their 20’s sent as as soldiers and cannon fodder by heir slightly older leaders who are rabble-rousers and have a lot of experience doing that in the guise of racism.

        Corporation money is indeed being used, but that money began its trail to the protests as a political donation via. soft money to the Democrat party. Teacher unions and other unions pay dues, their leaders skim them for personal needs, then send the rest along as a political donation to be used to benefit Democrats in general rather than a specific candidate. Republicans do it too, but there churches also donate and their cause is anti-baby killing, but I digress.

        So Henry, those bricks are paid for by that sweet young third grade teacher you had 15 years ago from her paycheck or maybe Mr. Green, the local electrician.

        Regarding tear gas, works fine for me. If you don’t want to be gassed – don’t go out and throw a brick. True peaceful protests get a pass and can do that all day long. Trouble comes when politicians and regular people can’t define “peaceful” properly.

        • They are not paid for by unions or the democratic party. The protests are self funded. I have friends protesting in some major cities and have send some cash their way to restock their first aid kits and buy gas masks. They figure if they’re gonna get gassed for using their first amendment rights, they should at least be prepared. I think you’re significantly overestimating how organized the movement and protests are. They’re mostly a mess, there’s no one calling the shots. Small groups of friends might be well organized and be able to organize larger groups, but overall it’s just a bunch of people with the same general purpose all doing their own thing.

          The vast majority of people are not going out to throw bricks, but that doesn’t prevent the cops from gassing all of them just for expressing their first amendment rights.

  2. I do not think we need to hear anymore about this new plan for PTC. I think it is clear to any reasonable person lives in PTC and truly likes and aporeciates living here, that this LCI so called plan is not good for our community. The reasons are obvious. Who wants more traffic? And the notion that Planterra Ridge subdivision(I do not live there) could just become a Whitewater type gated community and take on all that entails, just for the sake and because of a terrible LCI plan, is a bit insulting to that community. I can only think the Mayor truly does not like Peachtree City. She needs to just divorce herself from it, not try to kill it.

  3. Uh dude, it was just a survey. They didn’t discuss and vote on anything. They just presented a survey that I believe you supported the idea of – you know letting the citizens have input about the future.

    Sure enough the premise of the survey, the uber liberal urban authors and their fetish for “out with old – redevelop for millennials” is not what we need. However, mayor and council did not vote to adopt any of this stuff. I doubt very much that they will. The next meeting will be more informative about what council can do and what they might do.

    Stay calm until then. Do not assume what people want until you hear from them – Thursday nite. And don’t be signing petitions – that’s so 1960’s high school stuff. Grow up and attend the meeting and listen to what our elected leaders say. I predict they will kick the ARC shills to the curb and apologize for using the grant money for the survey.

    I am still glad the discussion about redevelopment has started. Seems some people are interested and energized. Better that than complacency.

      • That is correct Henry. One could also say (correctly) that a planned community is by definition a mixed-use development. One can always argue the details, but not that basic fact.

        At the same time, the governing body of our 15,000 acres of mixed use needs to acknowledge that things change over 60 years.

        Things we didn’t think of in 1959:
        – cell phones and cell phone towers
        – solar roof panels
        – unimaginable level of parcel delivery to the home via truck or drone
        – electric cars and charging stations
        – food trucks
        – golf cart in every home
        – internet banking, entertainment and working from home
        – cremation leads burial 3 to 1
        – doctor visits via. video
        – multi-generational families quite common in the “suburbs”
        – working singles wait to marry or have kids (sometimes both) at age 35
        – non-working singles on parent’s health insurance to age 26**
        – apartments favored over single-family home 2 to 1
        – transient nature of job market
        – declining church membership and infighting

        That leads to things we don’t need and could replace:
        – big box stores (but leave Home Depot alone)
        – expensive office buildings with private offices for all
        – bank buildings
        – large movie theaters
        – huge church buildings
        – large burial plots
        – expensive retail space (replace with package pick-up spots)
        – more single-family homes
        – local restrictions on multi-generational homes (in other words – ease off of that)
        – local restrictions about many cars in driveway
        – huge rambling shopping centers (can convert to affordable residential)
        – people hung up on density
        – people hung up on history (“We have always done it this way”)
        – regarding the last 2, we are all replaceable and eventually will be

        Admittedly some of the “don’t need” items will phase in gradually, but by 2050, these will certainly be on the list and I suspect more will be added.

        Again, some friendly advice for the Thursday meeting – Sit, listen, learn first – then speak or get involved as a positive force somehow. No petitions, please. no rioting, no burning of local businesses. Simple rules for a planned community.

        Footnote
        ** The age 26 thing really annoys me. I have been binge-reading about WWII and 90% of the heroic and frankly astounding feats accomplished back then were by young men and women under the age of 26. And now they blog in the basement and their best job prospect is getting paid by some anonymous rich guy to protest and riot in the streets. Sorry, I had to vent.

        • I’m gonna have to disagree with you that PTC is already mixed use. PTC certainly is closer to mixed use than a lot of other suburbs but I think to make it properly mixed use it has to be zoned to allow both commercial and residential on the same plot of land. What I love about PTC is the fundamentals of a great city are all here, it just needs to put more focus on what makes PTC a good city. We should lean into the walkability and paths. Make it more convenient to drive golf carts than cars, no one moves here because they can drive a car everywhere quickly, people move here because they can drive carts everywhere. Develop the village concept more, make the shopping centers more like real village centers with proper mixed use and small locally owned shops. Build an assortment of housing types so that people have choices for what kind of house they want to live in.

          To address your footnote, it’s fairly difficult to find an entry level job that offers good health insurance benefits. Even jobs that you need a college degree for often have pretty poor benefits. The Soros thing is not true, and while people might complain a bit too much about it being difficult to find a job, it is more difficult to find a job today or even pre pandemic than it was 40 years ago.

          • 3 things Henry
            1,. Soros thing not true? I said these thugs were being paid, not by who. My statement is true. No way slugs like those would get out and riot every day if they were not paid – Project Veritis has infiltrated and you’ll see interviews
            2. I am all on board with the village concept. Believe me, I’m all for it and have been for a long time.
            3. Difficult to get a job with good health benefits? Sure or maybe, whatever.
            Is health insurance or even a job a right? No and no. What is actually difficult? Difficult is scaling the cliffs at Pont du hoc on D-day and seeing 80% of your friends and fellow Airborne Rangers killed or wounded and keep going to the top. That’s difficult.

          • They’re not getting paid to protest, some of them are getting unemployment checks. However, the majority of protesters have jobs. It’s not that difficult to protest in the evening after getting home from work, not everyone is out protesting everyday. People might go once or twice a week on weeknights and on Saturdays. It’s not violent clashes every night most nights the protesters stand around for a few hours, then go home.

            Obviously finding a good job is nowhere near as difficult as storming the beaches of Normandy. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t stressful and frustrating. I would love to be able to find a job and an apartment near it that I can afford, so I can move out of my parents house. That’s just not possible right now, no companies are hiring new people and a lot are laying people off. That makes the labor market even more competitive and as young somewhat inexperienced engineer there are a lot of people more qualified than me looking for jobs right now.

          • My mistake Henry, I meant to say they were paid to riot and damage property. The trailers and vans that pre-delivered to the sites bricks, baseball bats and firebombs didn’t just appear out of thin air either. Somebody did something. Somebody paid for somethings. Get a grip on reality.

          • You mean the bricks outside of an active construction site in NYC and the uhaul truck that you can rent for 20 bucks a day and filled with canvas signs that cost next to nothing to make with cheap canvas and paint. No one plays baseball in cities and would just happen to have a bat lying around in their apartment. Even molotov cocktails aren’t all that hard to make, just a glass bottle filled with gas or diesel. Someone did pay for them, the people protesting, it’s not like they have state of the art high tech equipment, mostly just random stuff thrown together.

        • I forgot to mention the Doug Allen Institute, Doug Allen was a professor at GA tech and there are some great lectures of his on youtube about what makes a city great. I highly recommend people go watch it.