OPINION — We will be electing a new city council member in Peachtree City very soon. Please vote for a candidate who does not want to create radical urban change in the city.
As with the previous city council, the current council (Mike King and Phil Prebor are carryovers from the previous council) is also raising the ire of the taxpaying citizens.
They are dead set on destruction, refusing to listen
The councils of late are marching to the drumbeat of not wanting to follow the desires of the citizen taxpayers who elected them. We witnessed the previous council wanting to build thousands of multifamily residential units all over the place, literally proposing to level our beautiful parks and preserved green spaces and put apartments on the sites.
If you need to bring yourself up-to-date on their disastrous Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan, click here.
Understandably, the citizen taxpayers went ballistic with their indignation over the city council’s thickheaded and thoughtless proposal to dismantle the city’s prized assets and turn us into just another homogenized version of the rest of metro Atlanta.
Guess what, they are doing it again!
Since the LCI failed, the sneaky trio of Kim Learnard, Mike King, and Phil Prebor decided to alter our future land use plan through the state’s mandated comprehensive plan review process to include more apartments in various places all over the city, placing us in legal jeopardy when a developer applicant files a plan that adheres to the new plan as approved at the August 18 city council meeting.
You really do need to see the people who are supposed to be representing your best interests. Go to video of the August 18 meeting at approximately 1:27 on the video.
I offer high praise for council member Frank Destadio who made a motion to not incorporate the destructive changes to our city plans. He offered a perfect argument on why the changes were detrimental and did not embody the character of Peachtree City.
Not a single council member (Prebor was absent, but he supported the changes) disputed any of the critical points issued by Destadio. Instead, they offered one excuse after another why it was too late to make any changes. Destadio’s effort to defend us failed and the open door to a lot more multi-family residential units was included in the city’s plans.
Smoke and mirrors with some intimidation added
You witnessed the bewilderment, mystification, and upheaval on the speed hump issue with our cart paths. The city created a committee to examine cart path safety and, apparently, the committee provided some suggestions to the city council, wonderful.
There was no committee report given in a public council meeting for public comment. There was no public vote on allocating tax dollars and implementing speed humps. Why? Because the decisions were being made behind closed doors in City Hall.
Even after citizen taxpayers rebelled, Mayor Learnard and company never put the issue on an agenda. In fact, Learnard began talking down to the constituents like they were bad children, accompanied by a “we won’t do it again” kind of letter. Then, poof, the speed humps were gone without a public agenda item, no allowance for public comment and no council vote, again!
Kudos again to Council Member Destadio for demanding that the city council do their business in public.
The same kind of smoke and mirrors governance occurred when they recently inserted more LCI-type plan elements for multifamily residential projects into our land plans on August 18.
First, the changes were being challenged as far back as the July 12 city council meeting when Planning Director Robin Cailloux replied three times to the mayor and council confirming the plan could be changed. According to Destadio at the August 18 meeting, every time he proposed a change Cailloux reversed and told him such changes could not be made.
This is the same Director Cailloux who blatantly misled in a public meeting last year when the city council abolished the 20-year moratorium on multifamily construction, saying there were no sites remaining where apartments could be built and the moratorium was no longer necessary, while at the exact same time she was working with a subcontracted urban planning firm behind the scenes on placing hundreds to thousands of multifamily units around the city.
When Destadio made his motion to exclude the multifamily element in the city’s plans, Council Member Gretchen Caola seconded the motion. As part of the discussion following the second, Destadio began skillfully laying out his rationale for his motion. Mayor Learnard cut him off in mid-sentence and said that Destadio’s comments were not allowed. Destadio objected and Learnard kept browbeating him.
Learnard then turned to Caola and attempted to coerce her into withdrawing her second to the motion so it would die (this is how desperate they were to sneak the apartments into the plan). Destadio demanded multiple times that Learnard cease with the rude and intimidating behavior and allow the vote.
However, when King, who supported the changes, asked to speak, Learnard gave him free reign to express his views. King could not defend his position against Destadio’s criticism and attempted a leverage tactic saying if the pathway to more apartments in the plan was not approved, the city would be jeopardizing $2 million in building impact fees.
When our planning director wants to urbanize our ‘Bubble’
King based his comment on vague remarks from Cailloux who had already twisted the truth several times before. Not a single piece of documentation or correspondence was provided to backup Cailloux’s claim regarding the state’s Department of Community Affairs (DCA) not allowing the city to make changes to the future land use plan prior to council approval and sending it to the state. It is laughable.
Cailloux also raised the bogus claim that there somehow was not enough time to allow for deletion of the pathway to more apartments in the plan. That is ridiculous because the comprehensive plan review process was already past the deadline with DCA’s approval due to Cailloux’s department not doing their job properly.
Cailloux observed the process for inserting the pathway to more apartments was “community driven,” which is also laughable due to very low participation and biased process.
So, to be honest, they are totally ignoring the widespread public rejection of the previous LCI plan. Likewise, the voters fired the two council members on the ballot in the last election who supported adding all the multifamily residential units. The council and Cailloux suffer from willful blindness.
Negligence is defined as the “failure to exercise the care that a reasonably prudent person would exercise in like circumstances.” Is the city council being negligent?
The icing on the cake at the August 18 meeting was when Learnard, King and Cailloux did an immediate about face and they made a significant change on the language regarding the scope of the multifamily units after spending nearly 30 minutes claiming no changes were allowed.
You cannot make this stuff up! So, truthfully, changes are allowed only if it favors the Learnard, Prebor, and King position on adding more apartments.
Your turn to make a difference
Currently, we have one member of the city council who listens to the constituents and respects the open meeting process, Frank Destadio. I suggest you find another candidate in the upcoming election like Destadio with integrity and an appreciation for our traditional land planning to counter the other three ruffians on the council.
Peachtree City is one of the top quality of life places to live for families. There will always be demand for our community if we protect the assets that brought us all here.
As for Mayor Learnard, choose not to give yourself another blackeye, commit to not bullying your colleagues, pledge to respect your constituents, and please learn how to run a meeting.
[Brown is a former mayor of Peachtree City and served two terms on the Fayette County Board of Commissioners.]