More transparency — Is that too much to ask?


The rezoning notices and hearing dates for the Fayette County Planning Commission meeting on December 7, 2023, and Fayette County Board of Commissioners meeting on January 11, 2024, had been posted along Veterans Parkway and Lee’s Mill Road just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday.

Speculation that four parcels of land along these roadways were going to be approved for rezoning into a construction site for the new US Soccer Federation Headquarters and Training Center was in the air. After all, the US Soccer Federation had made it official back in September that they would be moving their headquarters to the Atlanta area. The availability of land in Fayette County for this move looked promising.

Well, on Thursday, December 7, 2023, it became official. Governor Kemp announced that the US Soccer Federation would indeed be moving to Fayette County, creating jobs and financial investment. This was headlined in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media.

While at the Fayette County Planning Commission meeting and hearing, also scheduled on that date, I was able to observe and listen to those in attendance who expressed various opinions regarding this decision.

Those who were enthusiastic about the move expressed how it would be beneficial to the community by strengthening it, since it would be investing in the best and brightest next generation of kids. A representative from Piedmont-Fayette hospital also cited that this would also attract more medical professionals to Fayette County as well as promote health and exercise. And of course, opportunities for more jobs were lauded.

The opinions expressed by those who felt they would be the most negatively impacted were residents living in adjoining neighborhoods, particularly those living along or off Lee’s Mill Road.

They were either totally opposed or had major concerns about the possible construction of 100-120 homes and the soccer center on that property, as well as traffic at the proposed roundabout, accesses and exits, buffers, and noise.

When some residents asked if another location for the site was possible, President and CEO of the Fayette County Development Authority Niki Vanderslice said that due to the proximity of the Atlanta airport and accessibility to the sewer system, this was the only possible location.

Residents also expressed concerns about the nearby construction of more hotels, restaurants and supporting businesses that would surely come because of this new facility.

The major perception from many of these residents was lack of transparency, in other words, “a done deal” since the hearing agenda only discussed the rezoning of four land parcels from Residential to Agricultural-Recreational. Chairman Jim Oliver even expressed surprise that the Governor and consequently the press had made the announcement beforehand, giving the Planning Commission the appearance of non-transparency.

Ms. Vanderslice replied that although the application process had begun in October 2023, the Development Authority could not talk about it until the official announcement had been made. That did not go over well with some in the audience, who remained unconvinced.

Could there have been any way for the Development Authority to be more transparent in this matter? I would love to know!

Cathy Vaught

Fayetteville, Ga.