The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Wednesday, August 19, 1998
PTC residents: 'No annexing without a plan'

Staff Writer

Inviting public discussion on proposed annexations is a good indicator of the amount and quality of work residents expect from their city governing bodies, the Peachtree City Council learned last week.

At a "workshop" meeting called to give residents, property owners and developers a chance to talk about the "west village" idea, more than 20 citizens expressed opinions on the matter. But all warned the city not to do any annexation "without a plan."

Citizens who spoke were concerned about trees, housing density, industrial and commercial uses, traffic congestion, railroad crossings, emergency services, protection of Line Creek, and other issues. Those who spoke their concerns did so without regard to whether those concerns fall within the purview of the city council. Another recurring concern was whether the new property would be "Peachtree City as it is, or Peachtree City as it was," as expressed by Walt Mashburn.

Mayor Bob Lenox said the city has "no interest in annexing this or any other area unless it is pre-planned and zoned down to the last piece of grass."

The area in question is bounded generally by the city limits on the south and east, the city of Tyrone on the north, and Line Creek on the west. Total acreage is about 1166, with 246 acres of that already in the city, including Planterra Ridge subdivision and the proposed Cedarcroft cluster homes and apartment complex developments.

Jim Williams, director of developmental services for the city, started the meeting with a history and overview of the "fifth village" idea, stating that if developed, the are would be called "McIntosh Village." Discussions have been going on with property owners for several years, Williams said, "and some are prepared to make decisions" about how to develop their tracts. He said the dialogue with the owners and developers has been an effort to try to assure that there is a workable, compatible plan for fitting into Peachtree City in the event annexation takes place. There are certain basics that the city would like to see on the properties, he said.

One basic is that "we feel we should not allow or encourage any development on septic tanks, but look to a sewerage solution for new developments.

"There's lots of room for discussion and planning," Williams said, but it's unfair to the property owners not to let them know how the city feels and how the residents feel about a proposed fifth village.

Another basic thought from city planners is the process of "step-down zoning," which would see the southern end of the now-undeveloped property be used for higher-density development, and commercial and industrial uses be located near present similar uses or along the railway on the east side of the area. Williams said there is an absolute necessity to protect the wetlands areas along Line Creek, with the creek buffered by at least 100 feet and sometimes by as much as 900 feet, depending on the size of the marshy areas.

The city will continue to work for the four-laning of Ga. Highway 54 also, both Williams and Lenox said. A "Line Creek Parkway" connector road has already been approved for construction between the Wynnmeade subdivision and the new cluster/apartment development, to relieve some of the east-west traffic now using Hwy. 54 to reach Ga. Highway 74, he added.

Williams said that Wynnmeade has been an "orphan" to Peachtree City for a long time, and the present plans for the Cedarcroft development "don't provide a good link" between the city and Wynnmeade. After his remarks, Williams said "we can always elect not to annex, and take our chances."

Lenox said the property cannot remain as it is forever. Some kind of development will come, he said, and "some government entity will control it -- Peachtree City, or Fayette County, or the city of Tyrone."

Jerry Peterson of Pathway Communities, representing some property owners, said that the aim for the land is that it "be done right and coordinated with Peachtree City ... random and piecemeal development could be bad." However, Peterson's figure of an estimate of "1.8 housing units per acre" in developable land was later questioned by several residents. His housing-density estimates per-acre excluded wetlands, green buffers, and rights-of-way for cart paths, and residents challenged the concept that those protected areas should be considered more nice than necessary.

Several residents including Mashburn, Orville Barber, Sue Berchin and Robert Brown, questioned whether any development should be done at all until traffic conditions in the area are improved by four-laning Hwy. 54 and locating at least one grade-separation crossing over the railroad. The city's plan calls for a bridge over the tracks at Kedron Drive, but there is no definite plan that includes where funds would come from for the bridge.

Jim Ryan questioned the figures available from the city and developers, stating that "buildout" was set at 38,500 population, and "now we're hearing 50,000." Lenox said that the 38,500 figure was for sewerage capacity for the present incorporated city limits, but if the west village area is added, "buildout" could then go to 43,000, with new sewer systems. Citizens also questioned whether sewering the area could make for greater housing density, since Williams had said that the city would not allow septic development except on single-family lots of five acres or more.

Ray Towle also questioned the use of "averages" to determine housing densities.

"A person who has one foot in a bucket of boiling water, and the other in a bucket of freezing water, is, on average, comfortable," Towle said. "I think the city needs to pay attention to the wishes of the voters, who are smart -- none of us are average."

When several persons commented that something of the original concepts, flavor and restrictions in Peachtree City seemed to have been lost within the last decade, Council member Robert Brooks commented that some of the development could be "fill-in," areas which were initially marked for certain kinds of development but are only now being constructed. Development standards are different, too, he said, with $120,000-$150,000 homes now being built on much smaller lots than the older subdivisions.

Questions about "clear-cutting" trees for subdivisions brought assurances that if and when the city annexes the property, greenbelts and tree ordinances will be enforced.

Lenox summarized the workshop discussion by saying that the city council would make every effort to control what can is within its power, but "what appealed to me about Peachtree City is that they said they were building a city, which to me means all different kinds of uses, business, apartments, houses, recreation, industry, schools, everything."

Councilman Jim Pace commented that he had asked for an analysis of each village for percentage of land use in each of the categories, and that the proposed McIntosh Village actually would have fewer commercial and industrial areas (by percentage of land) than the other four villages. He and Lenox said they envisioned "neighborhood stores" for the village, with heavier industrial uses near the railway.

Lenox stressed that more dialogue and meetings will go on before any steps are taken toward annexation or village development.

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