Wieland wants New Urbanism for PTC

Tue, 09/04/2007 - 4:24pm
By: John Munford

Thursday night, officials from John Wieland Homes threw out a few very un-Peachtree City concepts for residential development on an undeveloped 89-acre tract it owns at the intersection of Ga. Highway 74 and south Kedron Drive on the city’s northwest side.

At a committee meeting at City Hall Thursday night, Wieland representatives spoke about the New Urbanism design concept, which mixes a large variety of housing types and price points.

One idea to screen the property from the railroad tracks along its eastern border is to erect townhome buildings that would buffer the remainder of the tract from the noise, suggested Wieland architect Michael Medick.

That, however, would likely present a challenge from an architectural and landscaping point of view because those townhomes would also basically be abutting Hwy. 74, which is immediately adjacent to the railroad tracks.

Another concept Medick presented was that of zero lot line development, where neighbors can build and landscape up to their property line. That allows for lots as small as 40 feet wide and homes that can have interior courtyard areas, Medick said.

Having people live in close proximity to each other and community areas to meet such as stores and parks encourages social interaction, Medick said in explaining the New Urbanism concept.

Part of the thinking behind the concept is that the destination needs to be within a quarter-mile, roughly equivalent to a five-minute walk, for a person to decide to walk instead of drive there, Medick said.

Developments such as these also create more room for parks as opposed to traditional subdivisions, Medick said, noting that company founder John Wieland has said the company needs to install larger landscaping in its new neighborhoods.

Landscaping is likely to be crucial in the development of the site, in large part because there isn’t much existing vegetation. To that end, the committee decided that for its next meeting they would walk the property to get a better feel for its current status.

One of the drawbacks with dense developments is the potential for too much of a good thing to be built, with a negative effect on schools, traffic, public safety and other services caused by too many people being put in one area.

Wieland envisions making the site a mixed-use development with some retail and office uses along with residential products.

The land is currently zoned for industrial use, and it is bordered to the east not just by Hwy. 74 but also by the CSX railroad. There is an existing at-grade railroad crossing directly across from south Kedron Drive, but railroad officials have said they want to close that crossing.

Without that access across the railroad tracks, the office and retail components might not be viable, noted Wieland Vice President Dan Fields. Fields said railroad officials previously committed to keeping the crossing open, but he doesn’t have that in writing from CSX.

Another railroad issue is the nearby rail siding, an extended length of extra track which is used by the railroad to park entire trains. Neighbors have complained that trains are parked there routinely for a day or more, including trains that carry hazardous chemicals. That rail siding abuts a residential neighborhood, further increasing the concern about a potential problem with the hazardous chemicals.

Residents will get a chance to have input on the design for the site in a special planning meeting called a charrette, which is temporarily scheduled for Oct. 11 but may be changed.

Committee member Phyllis Aguayo said she felt the issue of density was a matter of how many homes were built on a property instead of how close the houses are together. Aguayo said she didn’t want to see dense development on the site used to increase the overall number of units in the development because of the effect density can have on schools and traffic in particular.

Aguayo also said she wasn’t convinced the property needed to be rezoned for residential development.

Committee member Paul Van’t Hof, who is also president of the Peachtree City Civic Association, said he was curious about where the water would come from to serve the development, particularly given the recent drought the area has experienced.

Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett, who sits on the committee, said she would like to see Wieland present ideas at the charrette of what the property could look like now as currently zoned in addition to how it might look if it was rezoned.

Wieland has committed to paying the city $250,000 to go towards recreation ballfields instead of actually having sports fields on the site as was proposed in a previous plan for the site, Fields said.

City Leisure Services Director Randy Gaddo said that one of the main negatives of building sports fields in the area is the proximity to residential areas, as the city has had problems with residents complaining about noise and traffic from other sports fields.

Gaddo also said the need for a lot of parking and proximity to the railroad tracks played a role in evaluating the area as a place to build sports fields.

The railroad tracks could also slow down public safety response to the area, Gaddo noted as the group’s discussion turned to whether or not the land should be developed for residential use instead of perhaps for office use.

Because of the railroad’s future plans being key to development of the site, the group resolved to find a way to communicate with CSX officials about the matter of whether the at-grade crossing will remain open and what will become of the rail siding area.

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LifeLongResident's picture
Submitted by LifeLongResident on Thu, 09/06/2007 - 12:34pm.

We have enough urbanism now. Bank robbery in Fayetteville, armed robberies in stores and cart paths in PTC. Thank you, I've had enough "urbanism".

If a person is willing to sacrifice a little freedom to gain a little security, they deserve neither - Ben Franklin

Submitted by taters on Wed, 09/05/2007 - 10:30am.

Watch out folks, you're about to lose control of your unique life style. Wieland doesn't give a damn about P'Tree City. All they care about is making money. Their latest plan just goes to show that all they want is to build as many homes, on the smallest lot they can, so they can maximize profits. With the current housing market that means a lot of houses sitting empty for several years.

Submitted by bowser on Wed, 09/05/2007 - 11:33am.

They can call it New Whatever, it's all about stuffing maximum sellable units into any remaining nook and cranny they can find. This is what you get after you encourage it with ill-conceived annexations and the chockablock crap behind WalMart.....

Big question I still have after reading this is: How in the heck are they going to manage traffic coming on and off 74 if that railroad crossing at S. Kedron is still open and that road is the main access point? When the bars are down -- which is numerous times a day -- you'll have nasty and dangerous backups on the highway. And god forbid somebody needs an ambulance....

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