The Fayette Citizen-News Page
Wednesday, August 26, 1998
PTC buffers survive legal challenges

Staff Writer

A revised ordinance for buffer standards in Peachtree City has "largely survived intact" after several legal challenges by development groups.

At last week's City Council meeting, city attorney Rick Lindsey told the council that an agreement had been reached with the former Peachtree City Development Corporation (now known as Pathway Communities), one of the challengers, that involves minor changes in ordinance provisions. Two other lawsuits are still in effect, Lindsey said, but the city is in active negotiations with property owners, who have been "very cooperative in trying to resolve this."

Before last fall, when the buffer standards ordinance was adopted, Peachtree City had nothing in city law that would delineate buffer standards for different types of roadways, Lindsey explained. Generally, property owners had always been willing to meet city staff recommendations for the size and type of buffers "needed to protect the streetscape," Lindsey said.

As soon as the ordinance was passed, setting down actual numbers in writing, suits were filed by three property owners who felt that "taking property without compensation" might be unconstitutional, said Mayor Bob Lenox. Lindsey explained that following the adoption of any city ordinance, there is a 30-day period in which lawsuits may be filed by those "who feel they are adversely affected, or they forever lose their right to challenge a new ordinance."

The ordinance defines buffer sizes for roads classified as arterial highways, community collector roads, village collector roads and scenic roads. Specific sites are always discussed with city staff, Lindsey said, "because we can't do something that would render someone's property undevelopable." The ordinance amendments adopted last week after the PCDC agreement involve minor word changes in the preamble, plus a reduction in the caliper-inch diameter of trees required in areas where buffers need to be smaller than the distances set by the ordinance.

For each 10-foot buffer reduction, developers are required to add 10 percent more landscaping, according to information supplied by Jim Williams, city director for development services.

The council also approved an amendment to its agreement with Atlanta Gas Light, since the company will become a pipeline supplier after deregulation takes effect Nov. 1, and will not sell to consumers. Franchises fees under the new agreement would be based on volume of use, not sales, said Williams, but very little change in actual dollars is expected.

Jim Savage, Falcon Field airport manager, gave an update on progress at the field with the Peachtree City Airport Authority at the helm of fixed-base operations. He also outlined the plans for the Sept. 12-13 "Wings over Dixie" Airshow, which may necessitate asking surrounding properties to abate activities during the show for safety's sake, Savage said. Two holes of Planterra Ridge's golf course will likely be closed, he said, and discussions are ongoing about other locations.

The council reappointed Wes Saunders to the planning commission and appointed James Finney to serve from October 1998 to September 2001. Service pins were given to Jane Miller for 15 years and Ollita Bennett for 10 years with the city, and Lois Landy and Delia West were honored for service on the Commission for Children and Youth. Joe McIntosh, a recreation department employee and native of Guyana, was recognized for achieving United States citizenship.

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