The Fayette Citizen-Opinion Page

Wednesday, November 14, 2001

PTC planned for a lot more people

Contributing Writer

In the rhetoric of election year politics, a certain theme of misinformation disinformation? seems to be endlessly repeated, apparently on the supposition that if something is said often enough, it will be believed as true.

The theme is that somehow those in high places have breached trust with the citizenry and are trying to cram more people into Peachtree City than Peachtree City was designed to contain. It took only a half hour or so in the library's aptly-named Joel Cowan Room to dispel this notion, and with a minimum of editorializing, I'd like to share with you what I found.

In the history room there are file cabinets freely available to peruse. They are not well-organized, and they are jammed with old clippings and reports. Nonetheless, projections of the city's growth appear in dozens of publications, widely disseminated. The earliest article I came across was dated Aug. 8, 1959, an Atlanta Journal/Constitution feature on the western Fayette city that had incorporated earlier that year.

Its roughly 15,000 acres, said the AJC, would be designed for a population of 75,000 to 100,000 people. In October 1965, 300 folks were calling Peachtree City home. The projected population was still expected to reach 75,000, according to another AJC feature. By Oct. 4, 1967, the planned city had reached 750.

Atlanta Magazine described Peachtree City in July 1969. Estimated population at build-out: 75,000.

When we moved here July 1, 1971 there were still fewer than 900 Peachtree citians. A publicity pamphlet put out by Bessemer Corp., the main developer then, estimated that at build-out, the city would have 75,000 residents.

In 1972, the city itself commissioned Arthur Little Inc. to develop the its famous master plan, and the report published in April included the following: By 1979 there would be approximately 14,000 residents; by 1982, 34,000; by 1987, 58,000; and by 1992, generally regarded as the build-out date, 84,000.

John King of the Washington Post published a piece on Georgia's New Town Jan. 25, 1975 that predicted the population would peak at 85,000. By 1977, city documents indicated the build-out projection had dropped to 50,000, and in 1983, that figure was revised downward yet again, to 45,000, expected in 2000.

Approximate population, in November 2001: about 33,500. Projected number at build-out: 37,000, depending on density trends. The land use plan still says 40,000 plus.

Two thoughts I share with you: If you are resident number 40,000, you may have a valid argument that the drawbridge should be closed behind you. And if we, as residents number 846 through 851, had felt the way you do about more people moving in, where do you suppose you'd be living now?

(Sallie Satterthwaite has served as a City Council member and for many years as a volunteer with the fire department and emergency medical services. She has a Peachtree City fire station named for her.)

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