Wednesday, December 16, 1998
Another battle shapes up for development of the "Palm Beach" property at Ga. Highway 54 and Walt Banks Road with the refusal of the Peachtree City Planning Commission to recommend rezoning for an upscale shopping area.
John Callaway of Callaway Land Development Co. had sought to rezone 19 acres, the "Heard property" adjacent to the controversial corner, and to make modifications to the commercial zoning already in place for the 33-acre Palm Beach tract. Callaway proposes "The Mews at Peachtree City," designed as an old-fashioned town square with pedestrian-friendly features and "exclusive" stores.
In his presentation to the planning commission Monday, Callaway said he is willing to increase a rear buffer on the property to "250 feet, five times the requirement" to screen Southern Trace residences. He said he also eliminated a movie theater from the plans, because neighbors had said they didn't want it. He said his design, possible only with the added 19 acres and rezoning, would take "85 percent of the traffic in and out of The Mews off Walt Banks Road."
Other developments which could go into the 33-acre property, its zoning already divided between office and retail uses by a lawsuit settlement some years ago, "would put all the traffic onto Walt Banks Road," Callaway contended.
Discussion on The Mews took more than an hour at the meeting. Development Services director Jim Williams noted that the staff considered The Mews plan "a great plan in the wrong location," not providing enough justification to change the city's Land Use Plan for the area.
"It (The Mews) offers an extraordinary array of features that makes it almost irresistible. Quite possibly, this is the best site plan we will ever see for the area," Williams' report says. But the report recommends denial of the rezoning, based on "long-term issues about following the Land Use Plan," and the undeveloped 100-plus acres of commercial land already available, particularly at Ga. Highways 54-74, Williams said.
Planning Commissioners Julian Campbell Jr., Wes Saunders and Gerri Holt voted to deny the rezoning, with Willis Granger and Jim Finney voting against Campbell's "motion to deny." Two votes were necessary to clarify the positions of the commissioners.
The rezoning request will be heard by the Peachtree City Council on Jan. 7, according to City Planner David Rast.