The November 2021 election in Peachtree City was a wake-up call to every homeowner in the city limits. Let’s see if the taxpaying citizen voters get some respect now with this new line-up.
Two incumbents were shown the exit by the voters in November. The rationale for the election outcome was the failure to follow the city’s land plan, attempting to build large amounts of dense multi-family housing around one of the worst traffic-congested areas in the entire county, and treating the constituents with disrespect.
Fortunately, the voters were paying attention.
We also witnessed the introduction of a new political special interest group called Plan for PTC which claimed to be a group of local mothers who wanted more low-rent high-density apartments so their children could live close to them while still vacating their former bedroom at parent’s home for other uses.
It’s heartwarming that the kids would be close so the moms could still do their laundry, but many of us believe the group is nothing more than a front for local developers looking to score big on building apartments complexes that would further stress our infrastructure and add to the traffic congestion burden.
Since 2008, the metro Atlanta region has been fed a steady diet of real estate development propaganda regarding what Millennials (those born from 1981 to 1996) want for the rest of their lives and that we should spend billions of taxpayer dollars to fulfill their supposed dream environments.
For starters, know that the real estate development community advocates for the construction of whatever type of development attracts financing from the banks. The banks try to lend ahead of real estate trends to stay profitable and apartment complexes have been trendy primarily because urban studies theorists focusing on social and economic theory like Richard Florida (see his book: “The rise of the creative class”) have been lying to us for decades about what Millennials, the important future market, want.
Mr. Florida and his colleagues have led the national conversation on Millennial trends, saying the 25- to 40-year-old adults do not want to own a home, prefer to ride mass transit and lean towards not having children. These predictions appeared on target because the federal government spurred the subprime loan and housing bust leaving the Millennials without jobs for years and depriving them of the means to purchase a home or car, get married or have children.
Since that time, the projections on Millennials have been proven a total sham. Unfortunately, developers and government planning officials like our Peachtree City planner are still clinging to the false narrative and clamor for more apartments.
In the first eight months of 2021, Millennials accounted for 67% of first-time home purchase mortgage applications and 37% of repeat purchases applications according to CoreLogic.
Houses, not apartments, have become the primary need with Freddie Mac saying the U.S. housing market is 3.8 million units short of demand.
Peachtree City is still the top contender for young families who are desirous of high quality of life. Our houses sell quickly as people from other parts of the country see the tremendous value of our community.
The new trend of employers, especially tech companies, supporting remote work from home has freed many Millennials from urban cities and allowed them to purchase homes and enjoy a lower cost of living in the suburbs. Better school systems for the children are also a major factor.
At a time when most quality-of-life metro areas are attempting to emulate Peachtree City, legalizing golf carts and constructing paths, the city hired an urban land planning firm to tell us we needed to urbanize our community with lots of dense multi-family developments. Of course, the drastic increase in population, the attendance pressures on our school system, and the obvious hazard of throwing thousands more cars into an already gridlocked situation were never considered in their planning process.
In the city’s 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 undue 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.”
The fact that the urban planning firm was allowed to even craft and propose plans for large apartment complexes to be built on top of the city’s parks, recreation areas and preserved green spaces should have meant automatic termination for City Planner Robin Cailloux.
If anyone had doubts about whether Cailloux despised the city’s traditional land planning or not, she permanently burned the answer onto our brains with the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plans (see: https://thecitizen.com/2020/11/01/lci-meeting-insult-to-peachtree-city-residents/). Many of us would like to know who was responsible for hiring Cailloux in the first place?
A majority of the 2022 City Council was not on the previous council. How about the new majority reintroducing some commonsense logic back to how the city operates by moving on the following:
(1) Stop creating a growing tax burden for the taxpayers with annexations of and for residential development,
(2) Reinstate the two-step process for annexation requests so city staff time is not wasted
(3) Stop proposing multi-family developments,
(4) Reinstate the moratorium on rezoning land to multi-family,
(5) Follow our planned village-style land plans and ordinances,
(6) Do not approve anything that makes traffic worse for us,
(7) Focus on real long-term solutions for the Highway 74-54 intersection and abandon the GDOT Band-Aid project
(8) Seriously address the city’s financial liabilities and commit to budgetary constraints to prevent annual tax and fee increases,
(9) Repair the damage from the previous council to the citizen-run Planning Commission and Recreation Commission,
(10) Build support for the construction of the I-85 and Highway 74 interchange project that half of the county’s population relies upon,
(11) Void the tyrannical ordinance created to squelch public speech in public City Council meetings,
(12) Stop converting General Industrial and Office/Institutional zoned land to residential and secure future high-paying jobs,
(13) Stop the infatuation with the developer special interests and give your attention to the taxpaying voters who live within the city’s boundaries.
Peachtree City, Ga.
[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Commission.]