Adding housing units in Peachtree City will adversely affect local schools

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Recently I shared my concern that multi-use development in Peachtree City may have impact on our school zoning. Some would assure us that these developments would not include apartments.

I fear this is a distinction without difference. Whether they are called apartments, flats, town houses, condominiums, co-ops, time shares, or van life rest stops, dense multi-unit stacked housing is where developers profit in multi-use development.

One of our runoff candidates shared that there is no rezoning as our school system “is currently not keeping pace with the metro area in terms of enrollment.” To be honest I am not sure what that means, but there are some facts to consider. 

Ms. Emily Winkle informs us that “Fayette County is aging at an unusual rate. According to the US Census Bureau, the percentage of the population 65+ grew from 12.9% in 2010 to 19.5% in 2021. One of the many reasons this is compelling is because our citizens can opt out of contributing tax dollars to our school system at age 62.”

This is interesting, when you consider that the student FTE population of Fayette County schools is down in the same period from 21.517 to 19,497 ( -2,020 or 9.4%) resulting in the closure of four schools. However, it is important to note that schools that serve Peachtree City’s children are down only 12 (McIntosh down 1) student FTEs over the same period.

These numbers above reflect my concern. While we agree in the current environment, there is no significant risk of rezoning. However, by considering adding housing (whatever we call it) the numbers suggest we will be adding to our already robust PTC school zones. 

Now I believe that Mrs. Winkle and her “Plan for PTC” cadre are well intended; however, unless they propose displacing the seniors referenced above, the only way to beneficially impact the tax base is to add to it.

Adding commercial is a no brainer as it does not impact our schools, however, the residential (in whatever form) above or adjacent to the commercial in “multi-use” presents the problem.

The student data above for schools that serve PTC, suggest that if more housing were available, especially at a lower price point, it would attract families with children. Our proven “Fayette Advantage” of smaller class sizes does not anticipate maximizing the population if our schools, nor should it.

Decisions made by our municipalities with respect to growth and redevelopment affect our schools, with our school board left to react to decisions made by other governmental bodies. Therefore, the decision to add dense multi-use development into an already built-out PTC, is a decision to impact school enrollment and should be made with all possible transparency and care.

Early voting in our run off election is this week with election day December 5. Please vote.

Neil Sullivan

Peachtree City, Ga.