OPINION: Requiem for our villages? Or a new unexpected arrival?


OPINION — Author Mark Twain’s actual quote in the New York Journal June 2, 1897 was this: “The report of my death was an exaggeration.” The quote itself has been “greatly” exaggerated.

Thus — with trepidation — I begin a report on and a remembrance of a central feature of Peachtree City, Georgia. Should I describe this as a requiem, a tome usually reserved for someone or something that is dead? Or should city staff plan a new arrival party? Surprise coming below.

With no credit or thanks to Hillary Clinton, I have participated in rearing to adulthood two sets of children in a village.

From the first day I arrived in Peachtree City in the first week of January 1977, I — and two sets of kids — have enjoyed life in the one subdivision west of the railroad tracks (pre-Walmart, pre-Planterra) and in Aberdeen Village. I’ve resided these past 46 years (sequentially) in two villages. Now I’m seeing signs that the villages of Peachtree City might be going the way of the ivory-billed woodpecker — if not extinct, then, at best, rarely sighted.

Here’s the clearest sign of their endangered status: As of Aug. 17 it is difficult to find any mention of “villages” on the official city website. I don’t know when the story of our city disappeared from easy access on the site that’s supposed to show ourselves to the internet world. But I reported the missing villages to the City Council Thursday night during public comment. Nobody called 9-1-1.

As I write this two days later, I looked up “Peachtree City History,” and there were our missing villages — in history. They get two sentences: “The city was planned to be developed into villages, each with its own shopping areas, recreational facilities, and elementary schools. Peachtree City’s current villages are Aberdeen, Braelinn, Glenloch, Kedron, and Wilksmoor.” That’s it.

Search the city site yourself for other mentions of “villages.” They are buried in the site archives. One telling quote from the 2022 Comprehensive Plan Update: “[Village Center] Locations not defined or mapped” and “… it is clear that some work must still be done with the community to flesh out the Village Concept” …

Really? Reader, do you feel the need to get the “Village Concept” fleshed out? After 46 years of village life, I think I’ve got it “fleshed out.”

Here’s my point: The central defining feature of this “planned city” was its villages with their village centers. But even a determined visitor to our city’s website would be hard-pressed to discover that information.

So what does that suggest? A deliberate downgrading by those in charge or just sloppy site maintenance? “Please don’t delete our city’s history,” I requested of the council.

But if our villages were being downplayed on the city site, what do you make of this startling news buried in the council’s packet for last Thursday’s meeting?

It seems the city planning department is ready to move on from our five village centers (or six, since the city staff has redefined the industrial park as the sixth village).

I asked the smiling City Council Thursday night, “Do we now have a seventh village center?” The smiles continued. The council typically does not respond to public comment queries, and followed its typical pattern Thursday.

The seventh “village center” suspiciously shows up in a staff recommendation to move forward on an 11-acre, 21-home annexation request adjacent to Shiloh Mobile Home Park on the city’s east side.

“Staff Comment: The property is located within a 15-minute walk of the Lexington Village Center. Given the property’s proximity to the Village Center, higher density small-lot residential similar to what is under construction now in the Towson Village is an appropriate land use.” That is from the council packet for the council Aug. 17.

Well, now. City staff has created a new village center to buttress an annexation request. Thus my related question: When did Lexington Village join Aberdeen, Glenloch, Braelinn, Kedron and Wilksmoor as the newest village?

Did City Council hold a secret ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official addition of a seventh “village center”? Will the city now erect a sign for the city’s newest village, even while signs at existing villages deteriorate and disappear? Okay, I’m exaggerating.

But this is my suspicion: Maybe the notion of “village center” can be useful under certain circumstances if its aids a preference for residential density. And if there’s no “village center” handy, then just make one up.

Why is the council going along with this sketchy approach to annexation?

Why allow ANY annexation into a city that’s purportedly “built out”?

Taxes paid by the annexed homes almost always fall short of the city expense to provide police, fire, ambulance and other services. So why do it?

Should not EVERY annexation include a very simple checklist: (1) How much in taxes will the annexed properties produce each year versus (2) how much will the city pay in providing services for the annexed area and in dealing with traffic issues created by the annexation?

If it’s way positive revenue for the city (unlikely), consider annexing it. If it’s negative for the city, say no. How simple would that be? But I never hear a council talk about annexations in those simple terms.

By the way, annexations are not a constitutional right. No property owner has the right to demand annexation. And no city can be forced to annex land (unless the legislature steps in). It is always at the discretion of the city or town council. So why is there so much annexation without publicly declaring the answers to my two checklist questions?

I’m a village guy. Let’s protect our villages.

[Cal Beverly has been editor and publisher of The Citizen since 1993.]


  1. Excellent column. This mayor and the previous one and Prebor and King have defied the PTC citizens wishes in the area of residential development in my opinion. I take little pleasure in knowing I did not vote for any of the three. It is critical that we vote for candidates who uphold the Village concept and stop the unwanted residential growth.

  2. Excellent column. This mayor and the previous one and Prebor and King have defied the PTC citizens wishes in the area of residential development in my opinion. I take little pleasure in knowing I did not vote for any of the three. It is critical that we vote for candidates who uphold the Village concept and stop the unwanted residential growth.

  3. You hit the nail on the head. I’ve never understood this constant need to annex more land into PTC. Two members of Council along with the Mayor seemed determined to annex/develop/rezone our city as fast as they can. King and Prebor in particular before they come off council.

  4. More and more development never ends well in the long term, especially higher density.
    Oh and despite the millage rate staying the same, if you are paying more taxes this year than last, that’s a tax increase! What happens when residential values drop, and history tells us they will?? You guessed it, taxes increase!

  5. As a resident for 27 years I’m so sad too see the destruction wrought by a few errant councils over the years but none as bad as Mayor Learnard, councilmen King and Prebor.

    The destruction is almost complete but we have an election coming up and I can’t wait to vote for Suzanne Brown.

    Thank you, Cal, for your many years of faithful commentary and bringing important news to our community!

  6. I notice that churches are absent from blame in the upending of the village concept. Mega churches were not part of the original idea but that didn’t stop the Presbyterian, Baptist and Methodist churches from expanding.

  7. Thanks for the insightful column, Mr. Beverly.
    The original concept for PTC included large residential lots (early homes had septic systems) and ample remaining greenspaces for cart paths and public areas…land was cheap and plentiful.
    What is left in 2023 are mostly areas to be repurposed into housing with 15′ lot offsets. It seems inevitable that this will happen based on the cost of space available to redevelop…build it close together and straight up if possible…Centennial was, I think, the first set of homes to do this over 20 years ago.
    People are so willing to buy in PTC they will pay other worldly prices to live in “unicorn neighborhoods” behind the NAPA store and next to a Mobile Home Park…areas that were otherwise unthought of for residential development until now.

  8. Thanks Cal… Seems like every time we turn around now, the council and especially the mayor have abandoned the good citizens of PTC. If they are allowed to continue, we’ll lose lose all the reasons that brought us here to raise our families. We have zoning laws for a good reason, and they don’t need to change.