Transparency about setback variances is exactly the point


It’s interesting that Kenneth Hamner, a member of the Peachtree City Planning Commission, and former candidate in the Special Election for City Council Post 3 in 2022, decided to refute the opinions expressed by “The Browns.” Yes, that would be me and Steve Brown, former Mayor of Peachtree City (no relation).

Mr. Hamner outlines that, “Recently, declared City Council candidate Suzanne Brown and former mayor Steve Brown have made accusatory statements regarding Peachtree City’s use of Administrative Variances, which allow limited exceptions to certain zoning code standards.

Yes, clearly “The Browns” each made statements about the Administrative Variance Ordinance and the variances that have been approved because they are not limited exceptions when a homeowner can apply for an encroachment of up to 50% of the rear setback. That is a substantial exception to the Peachtree City Code of Ordinances.

Speaking for myself, and probably not saying anything Steve Brown would disagree with, the process is very much being done behind closed doors when there is no public notice, no public hearing, just one City Council member appears to be involved, and there is no posted report or notice on the City website. Even Building Permits that are approved are posted on a monthly basis, but not Administrative Variances. Why not?

How would anyone know they need to submit an Open Records Request for documents contained in an Administrative Variance when they have no clue an application was submitted, documents gathered, a committee meeting held, and a variance was approved?

Further, you omit that historically, prior to 2008, a special exception or administrative variance involved a matter of inches, or a few feet. In 2008 it was expanded to 25% of the setback. That was bad enough, but then on December 16, 2021, in the last Council meeting of their term, three Council members voted to increase Administrative Variances to allow encroachment of up to 50% of a rear setback.

Again, that is not a minor encroachment.

That is not something the Zoning Director, City Manager and one member of City Council should be deciding without a Public Hearing that allows any, and all citizens to speak about the requested variance.

The requirement that a homeowner needs letters of support from all adjacent homeowners puts those neighbors into a position of either providing a letter of support or angering his neighbor. Additionally, adjacent homeowners and the HOA should not be casting votes in letter form either for or against, as requested in the 2021 ordinance when a variance request is submitted to the government.

Whereas, if a Public Hearing is held, a concerned neighbor can write to members of City Council to express their concern without the applicant knowing, thus preserving better neighbor relationships.

The Public Hearing format forces things to be transparent, it posts it for all city residents to see (not just adjacent property owners), and it allows anyone either in favor of, or in opposition to, an item to step forward to speak or write to Council expressing their opinions. It’s all part of free speech.

Your claim that “The Browns” failed to cite facts indicates to me that you didn’t actually read my letter titled, “City’s zoning being gutted, one secretive variance at a time.” I outlined details about the 15 Administrative Variance applications since the Ordinance was changed on December 16, 2021. And, in that article, I posted the link to the data provided by the city in response to my Open Records Request. Please go to:

If you had opened that site, you would have seen I provided the facts for 15 Administrative Variances. # PVA22-002 was approved to reduce the rear setback from 40’ to 20’ so that a Pool House could be built into the rear setback. That’s likely the Administrative Variance Steve Brown referenced in his letter that you claim had no facts. The facts were stated in my article, the link was given, and Steve Brown referenced them in his article.

It is rather unfortunate, Mr. Hamner, that you were absent from the Planning Commission meeting on June 12, 2023, when the Public Hearing was conducted on the Mill Farms rezoning application to go from R-12 to LUR.

The application requests rezoning to LUR in order to keep the 74 building lots the same size as outlined in R-12 (12,000 square feet), but get the mandatory setbacks of:

40 feet front, 30 feet rear and 10 feet side, reduced to:

25 feet front, 20 feet rear and 5 feet side.

I would have liked to hear your opinion on that application when the Public Hearing was conducted by the Planning Commission. No one spoke in favor of the rezoning, but eight concerned citizens spoke in opposition to the “74 Variances” being disguised as a “Rezoning.” Would you care to weigh in on it? Would you have voted in favor of the rezoning in spite of the citizen opposition and all the valid points they raised in their comments?

At that Public Hearing I pointed out the numerous issues with changes that have been made to the construction plans with no approvals from the Planning Commission since the original Conceptual Site Plan. How is it that developers can make all kinds of changes and deviations without informing the Planning Commission?

They changed the mandatory 50-foot Greenbelt to just 40 feet along Redwine Road, moved the entrance 400 feet to the north, changed the street configuration, and failed to outline the location for the mailboxes. Nothing was submitted to get the changes approved, or even to notify Peachtree City that changes were being made and why.

Oddly, the developer somehow managed to change all those things in his plans and drawings, but appears to be completely unable to, or unwilling to, redraw the building lots into fewer, but larger lots with adequate buildable areas to construct the $800,000 houses he claims he will be building.

This is when I need to outline my research into the Mill Farms Rezoning led me to the Administrative Variance Ordinance issue.

Concerned citizens, who don’t like the idea of a developer asking for a reduction of the setbacks of 74 building lots, can certainly come to the Public Hearing being conducted by the City Council on Thursday, July 13 at 6:30 pm. Citizens who are in favor of the rezoning can also speak … because it’s a Public Hearing. That’s transparency. That’s compliance with the Open Meetings Act.

It doesn’t matter which other cities have Administrative Variances. As my mother said, “If your friend jumps off a bridge, are you going to jump too?” Peachtree City didn’t get to be Peachtree City by doing what other cities do, but rather by doing what most other cities don’t do.

Currently, Administrative Variances are being approved with no public citizen knowledge or involvement. Administrative Variances reducing rear setbacks by up to 50% have been, and will continue to be, approved with no transparency.

That is, unless citizens like “The Browns” bring those issues to the public’s attention as well as the attention of City Council.

That, Mr. Hamner, is the point.

Suzanne Brown

Peachtree City, Ga.


  1. I’ll address several of the comments here.

    1). Stefani Belleringer is correct as it relates to Tesla

    2).My.02-The city is following the ordinance as written. According to the Brown’s (Steve and Suzanne) the mayor should ignore our city code. She should deny citizens, the right under the ordinance to apply for a variance, and she should instruct the staff to ignore their applications. In other words they are advocating that the mayor should break the law.

    3). Secret Squirrel- I think the point Belleringer is making is that businesses are choosing F’ville, Trilith, Senoia, etc over PTC. By in large the local government is clueless and all of those playing chess do not want to be involved with those playing checkers. The aforementioned Bown(e’s) are clueless. Ms. Browne is hell bent in solving problems that don’t exist. PTC needs to wake up.

    I always find it interesting that there are those who make comments without knowing o even better yet understanding the facts

    • Basically, the Browns are our local version of Fox News. They pile grievance upon grievance by spinning some issue so it appears that someone is acting sinisterly, and then they “come to the rescue” by reporting all manner of nefarious behaviors. Of course, the government official is only following the law or ordinance, but when did truth ever matter?

      I guess a good number of people just want to feel spat upon constantly, so they tune in for the next episode of “You’ve Been Wronged” (nationally or locally).

      Truth is always stranger than fiction.

  2. Thank you to the “Browns” for keeping an eye on things. I have to admit, I haven’t been doing my due diligence by watching what has been going on but now I plan to since reading your articles in The Citizen. Please keep up the great work and thank you for you’re efforts in preserving what is left of the original plan of PTC. Many seem to forget what that vision was for this town.

  3. I shudder to think about how many taxpayer dollars you and Steve have wasted endlessly turning molehills into mountains. Most of this stuff is you guys not knowing the process and then trying to chase clout.

    When you go to the polls this year folks – find people looking to do something, and not just people looking for something to do. It’s exhausting and not really helpful at all.

  4. No one wants to do business in PTC because of Cal’s editorial page. We’ve got Kmart and Stienmart sitting empty soon to be joined by Tuesday Morning and Bed, Bath and Beyond. Our reputation as a city is that we have a stick up our collective bottoms and are impossible (read expensive) to work with. Businesses have other options, people, and they’re opting out leaving PTC in the dust.

    I heard a rumor that Tesla was very interested in the Steinmart building. Did we get that business? Nope, Fayetteville did. Don’t look now, but Trilith is eating our lunch.

    Who in their right mind would want to come to do business in PTC with the rigid, righteous maniacs rampaging around? The Browns don’t have any problem killing this town and feeling completely justified and virtuous while doing it.

    • But the point here is transparency and it seems your anger is misguided. Aside from a “rumor” you heard, the stein mart building in comparison to where Tesla was put in Fayetteville is vastly undersized.

    • Belle – your rant is misdirected. I’d expect most residents would get worked up about a back room process that results in variances far beyond what was originally intended.

      I expect PTC to follow its land use ordinances, with a fair and open process to deviate from them on occasion. We wouldn’t know how far astray from this PTC has gone without Ms and Mr Brown.

      • That’s exactly the issue: other than disdain for decisions not going the way they’d like, there’s simply no evidence of “backroom dealing.” When you don’t get your way, it doesn’t mean the system isn’t working. Some.just can’t accept the outcome. Lots of that going around lately.

    • The Peachtree City Permits site has overwhelming evidence which proves the contrary; new businesses vastly outnumber closures, post-pandemic economic issues notwithstanding. PTC certainly has rigid codes but it hasn’t been a significant impediment to businesses coming here. Perhaps you’d be more happy with Riverdale or Fairburn’s business zoning “regulations.”