Please awaken, my fellow Peachtree City taxpayers and voters. 2021 is a city election year with the mayor and two council positions up for grabs at a time when many of the city’s essential quality of life elements we value are hanging in the balance.
Our municipal elections of late have seen a horribly low voter turnout and the officials elected are actively straying from the foundation and fundamentals that have made our planned community a prime location for families who make quality of life a priority.
I am constantly driving by cars with out-of-state license plates in the city and our housing market is one of the best in Georgia. Sellers can name their price.
The current mayor and council members seem to want to dismantle our planning philosophy and process, redirecting to a more urban form of development with lots of apartment complexes in tight, traffic-laden locations.
Existing taxpaying residents are not a priority with the current City Council. They want to build large monstrosities adjacent to our flourishing subdivisions. The Great Wolf Lodge proposal hovering over an existing subdivision was our first wake-up call and others followed.
Our City Council and our Planning Director told us there was no need to keep the decades-old moratorium on multi-family housing because no property within the city had a zoning that would allow it. Unfortunately, that was an enormous lie as the city staff was developing Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) proposals that included thousands of multi-family units at the very same time.
The mayor and council members have hired urban land planning consultants who have no real understanding of what makes Peachtree City tick and why we attract so many well-educated and highly employed residents to the envy of other areas in the state.
As we now know, the urban planners suggest that we build huge urban structures in our city, requiring construction on our preserved green spaces like Drake Field next to the library and replacing our Tennis Center with apartments.
Obviously, with the thousands of proposed apartment units comes approximately two cars per unit in locations that are already suffering from traffic congestion. Likewise, the City Council continuously increases our taxes and fees at the same time they want to add thousands of new residents who will make the provision of city service even more difficult and more expensive.
In our zoning ordinance, Article 3, the will of the people is made abundantly clear, “The purpose of this ordinance is to promote the health, safety, convenience, order, prosperity and general welfare of the present and future inhabitants of the city; and to assure the development of the city in accordance with the land use and thoroughfare plan as adopted, and as amended from time to time; to protect the population from the danger and inconvenience of traffic congestion; to prevent overcrowding of the land and the undo concentration of population; to facilitate the adequate provision of transportation, water, sewage, schools, recreation and other public requirements; to regulate with reasonable consideration the character of existing and future uses of the land in order to promote desirable living conditions and neighborhood stability, protect property against blight and depreciation, secure economy in governmental expenditures, and protect against floods and other natural hazards.”
Unfortunately, our City Manager along with our Planning Director feel that this language is out of touch and they tend to go with the new philosophy of high-density urban development as recommended by the urban planners. (The City Manager inferred at the February 8 Planning Commission meeting that this language in Article 3 was written way back in 1977, totally false.)
As our master plan philosophy was developed and refined in Article 3, our citizens wanted to secure their desires in a codified form, leaving nothing to chance because we honestly care about school overcrowding and undue concentrations of population and traffic in areas like the intersection of Highways 74 and 54.
The citizens demanded that the city government pay serious attention to the land plan, protect the character of the community and not take any actions that would diminish our existing subdivisions and cause depreciation of our property. Only a handful of cities in our state willfully and meaningfully provide such high standards. And the beauty of Peachtree City is our citizens fight to maintain the standards over and over again.
Not only has our current mayor and council purposefully attempted to bypass our high standards, but they have also crippled our Planning Commission by removing their authority.
The few top-tier cities in metro Atlanta are trying to emulate the feel of our successful community. The City of Milton approved a $25 million bond to purchase greenspace and create paths. The City of Alpharetta is designing their own “greenway” system of paths. In contrast, our City Council and planning staff created proposals to build in-fill apartment complexes on our prime greenspaces, parks and recreation venues — utterly ridiculous.
Bring us some candidates for the 2021 election that will give us the following:
(1) A guarantee not sell our protected greenspaces, parks and recreation venues to developers to build thousands of apartment units;
(2) Restore the Planning Commission’s authority, including public hearings and a formal vote on proposals;
(3) Do not support any development proposals that cause harm to any of our subdivisions;
(4) Stop converting General Industrial and Office/Institutional zoned land to residential and secure future high-paying jobs;
(5) Create meaningful citizen input at all public government meetings and stop holding a timer and forcing people to speak their comments in 2-3 minutes;
(6) Seriously address the city’s financial liabilities and commit to budgetary constraints to prevent annual tax and fee increases;
(7) Promote legislation through the Georgia General Assembly to create a recall process for the city so that elected officials who violate the will of the resident taxpayers can be removed and;
(8) Reinstate the moratorium on multi-family housing and dispose of the LCI plans.
Peachtree City, Ga
[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County commission.]