The Publisher's Opinion: RAMing it to Peachtree City again

Sun, 09/09/2007 - 8:41pm
By: Cal Beverly

A column of OPINION by the publisher

“Do what I want, or I will do my best to hurt you.”

If a man walked into your home or business and spoke the words above, he would be subject to arrest.

If he is developer Doug McMurrain, and he says that to the Peachtree City Council and homeowners of Planterra Ridge subdivision, he is hailed by some as a “win-win” negotiator.

What he would hurt the city with? In his description, a Hooters restaurant and a Pep Boys auto parts store.

What McMurrain and RAM Development Co. (what an appropriate name for what that company has done to Peachtree City, with its apartments and big boxes on the west side) want is for the city to suspend its big box ordinance to allow a Kohl’s discount department store to be built across Ga. Highway 54 from those apartments and big boxes Wal-Mart and Home Depot.

Oh, and he also wants the council to sign over to him city-owned land, including all of Line Creek Parkway and Line Creek Court, two publicly owned streets, to give him enough land to build the Kohl’s.

Without the city giving in to his demands, he would not have enough land to build the 89,000-square-foot department store, even with a waiver of the big box ordinance — which limits stores to about a third that size.

And two members of the city council — Mayor Harold Logsdon and Steve Boone — support the public land grab. A third — newly appointed sewermeister Mike Harman — is thinking hard about approving the plan.

Only council members Stuart Kourajian and Cyndi Plunkett opposed this naked extortion that came wrapped in polite civic terms.

Exemplifying the dismal state of the current Peachtree City Planning Commission, two of its appointed members — Marty Mullin and Patrick Staples — fell in step with the Westside Destroyer and applauded his plan.

The current planning commission is proving itself inferior in all respects to its predecessors. They seem to have abandoned a heritage of consistent planning integrity, which featured as a fundamental concern the effects upon current and future residents.

We once had volunteers zealous to preserve and protect Peachtree City and its planning ideals.

This bunch is throwing away our city under the cover of “win-win” negotiations with developers intent on wringing the last dollar out of their johnny-come-lately investments. A more apt description would be incremental capitulation to bullying developers.

What the city is contemplating is — so far as I can remember, and I’ve been here since 1977 — unprecedented.

The city is actually seriously considering giving in to zoning blackmail, and some scared residents of nearby Cardiff Park and Planterra Ridge are falling in line like frightened sheep who are being led complicitly to their own slaughter.

This whole deal is wrong, folks.

It is just simply wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong.

It is governmentally wrong and it is morally wrong.

It is bad public policy to sell or trade public land to a developer under the Westside Destroyer’s threat of bringing in undesirable businesses.

The city has had opportunities in the past to sell public land to local businesses, but in every case I can recall, it has declined.

I say again, the city has declined in the past to sell or trade public land to local — LOCAL! — businesses.

Now along comes this out-of-town developer with his threats to hurt the city and its residents, and those people elected and appointed to protect our rights and the Peachtree City vision go all wobbly in the knees, moaning, “How high, boss?”

Too bad they no longer allow miscreants to be tarred, feathered and ridden out of town on a rail.

I can nominate some very worthy recipients of that old-time response to bully threats.

In the absence of that remedy to our current troubles, I suggest instead that the Peachtree City Council — at long, long last — display some slight spark of civic courage and moral outrage at this blatant developer’s blackmail and instruct the Westside Destroyer to bundle up his Kohl’s plans and store them permanently where the sun doesn’t shine.

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secret squirrel's picture
Submitted by secret squirrel on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 8:18am.

You are quite passionate about this issue as your editorial would seem to indicate. Your dislike for the proposal by RAM is apparent and your arguments in opposition are certainly compelling.

However, I have to ask you, and those who are like-minded in railing against this proposal: what is the alternative?

Deny McMurrain what he is asking for and he, as the property developer, will proceed to still do as he wishes. Should we pass regulations to deny his proposed use of the property altogether? Surely you're not advocating that. Is your contention to simply let him stick in whatever retail he wishes into his development? I believe the risk of him leasing space to non-typical PTC retail is the reasoning behind the push by some on the council to work with McMurrain.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Tue, 09/11/2007 - 9:07am.

Let me help you out on this one secret squirrel, my nutty little friend. Cal is passionate about this because he is a pot-stirrer interested in selling newspapers. His hatred of McMurrain is less than professional, but fueled by the fact that he lives (or lived) in Wynnmeade.

When the man is as passionate about property rights as he is about the sunshine laws on public officials, I will begin to listen to him.

Since that has not happened yet - I will answer your question, the alternative is to deny his application, do not make any deals and then not complain when he develops to the highest and best use under the current zoning - which is his legal right. What Logsdon and others are trying to do is make concessions for what they believe is a higher use than what is currently allowed. How they come to that conclusion escapes me, but that's why you have 5 votes on council instead of just one. I assume the inevitable 3-2 vote on this zoning and street swap will make the Kohl's store go away - and if we get a Hooter's and a tire store - so what.

Back to my old picture, so I can say "I don't have a dog in this fight" with real feelings.

Submitted by John M on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 5:41pm.

Cal drew the line in the sand and let the city council decide if their are going to coward out or finally take a stand on something.

Voting for the Kohls seems par for the course for oft inebriated city leader but the rest of them need to use their sober minds and vote the way the majority wants them too.

"I'm NOT John Munford"

Submitted by McDonoughDawg on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 3:31pm.

We don't need them. Look what Kroger is cramming down our throats in the center of town.

cowtipn's picture
Submitted by cowtipn on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 1:13pm.

If we're able to send Doug back to the cesspool he congealed from, can we still keep the Hooters? Mmmmmmm..... buffalo chicken sandwich!

yellowjax1212's picture
Submitted by yellowjax1212 on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 12:34pm.

Thank you Stuart and Cyndi for standing opposed to this blackmail.
The zoning is in place and the rules are the rules. No Big Box! I don't care if the residents are in favor of it. This can only open a can of worms that we don't want. If you make the exception here you will have to make it anywhere in the city. And what benefit is the city getting by abandoning the two roads leading into the complex? Is there something we are not hearing? If not I certainly don't like giving city property over to developers.
Let RAM build the smaller complex that is within the current zoning guidelines. I think he is bluffing about the tenants but even if he is not what's so bad about Auto Zone and Hooters. Is Hooters really that bad? Why is Planterra Ridge so afraid of girls in tank tops and shadetree mechanics? Besides, the market place can take care of itself. If the citizens really don't want a Hooters they can choose not to support it and it will go out of business. That scenario has already played out in Fayetteville. Yes, Kohl's will probably move down the street to a new development in Coweta County but we can't control that.
As we fast approach build-out it is extremely important that we maintain the integrity of building plan and zoning codes.

Mr. Mayor and council, I know you guys take a lot of heat, much of it unwarranted, and yours is often a thankless job but I think you need to get outside of council chambers on this one and let the people know why this development is in the best interests of the entire city.

Submitted by MIKEK on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 9:12am.

Obviously, our Mayor and City Council have decided that Kohls is a done deal and in the process have subjugated themselves to to being puppets for any Developer with the audacity to threaten the city with a lawsuit. Hopefully, Mr Boone or Mr Harman will come to their senses and let the Mayor know that they represent the citizens of Peachtree City.
This is the sort of situation where all types of allegations of impropriety will surface, and while I hold the belief that the Mayor and Council are honorable individuals, they would be well served with a lesson I learned years ago while serving in the US Army. Specifically, that that the perception of impropriety usually is far worse than the impropriety itself.
Please as readers and bloggers, contact the Council Members supporting this misguided effort and let them know where you stand as I have done. Peachtree City has an ordinance prohibiting "big box" and must be enforced.
Michael L "Mike" King
Candidate for City Council

Submitted by ole sarge on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 6:37am.

Must be just my nature, but I do not respond well to threats, personal nor civic. It is time for our council and planning commission to return to earth, get their heads back in the correct posture, and listen to the concerns of citizens.

When threats are made in public gatherings those in authority should escort the miscreant to the door and ensure that plans for a return should not be considered. If authorities do not have the integrity to stop this behavior then the responsibility must be accepted by the citizens.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 5:42am.

Council and Planning Commission are really acting strange on this one. I can't imagine any past Planning Commission supporting something like this - and why this one is doing so is the real mystery - what are they doing? They are an appointed advisory body. They shouldn't even listen to the Hooter's threat - they need to comment on the plan presented to them unmindful of the public's input and politics. It is either a good plan or a bad plan. They need to say so and pass their recommendation along to City Council - that's where public input matters.

Since this is so obviously a bad plan and not in conformance with anything, Planning Commission should say that and recommend that it be turned down.

Council should turn it down and will - unless they new guy decides to go with the Mayor for some reason. If he does that, I expect he will go down in history as the council member serving the shortest term.

Oddly enough, this has happened before with the two properties most affected. Planterra Ridge was industrial land that PCDC went to the first Brown administration with the idea that we had too large an industrial park and we need to change it to residential or else they would start marketing that land to industry. As an aside the city dropped the ball by not insisting on a larger buffer area from the existing industrial park and they also should have gotten acknowledgements from the homebuyers about airport noise and the industrial park's proximity.

And then the clowns that did Cardiff Park said basically the same thing - rezone us to cluster homes or else we will build industrial buildings right next to Planterra. That was either Lenox or the other Brown that allowed that one.

bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Sun, 09/09/2007 - 10:13pm.

Why is information about the upcoming meeting blocked?

Planning Commission to Discuss 54 West Retail Proposal on September 10 blocked with a “Restricted Login”!

Go here and try it yourself.

“Planning Commission to Discuss 54 West Retail Proposal on September 10.
Last Modified: 9/6/2007 5:05:52 PM
This Monday, the PTC Planning Commission will have a general discussion on a proposed retail development on Hwy 54 West.”

This attempt at denying the public access to meeting information is unacceptable and hopefully illegal.

First, the developer tries to EXTORT his store in here.

Now PTC officials block the public’s access to the information about the Planning Commission meeting.

The taxpayers of PTC are the ones paying for the WEB site!

What the hell is going on at City Hall?

Submitted by PTC_factchecker on Mon, 09/10/2007 - 4:34am.

I tried to look at that too, and got the same message, but then I went to the City's home page, where I was met with the following message:

WEBSITE NOTICE - As of 9/9/2007, a technical problem is causing the "News and Announcements" to not display properly. We are investigating the cause of this issue with our web hosting provider and will resolve it as quickly as possible. In the interim, please access our news and announcements by clicking on the following link:


We apologize for this technical issue and any inconveniences it may cause.

So, I think there is a just a technical glitch. I was able to read the full story on the meeting by clicking on their link (and a couple of other links on their site too).

Here's the info:

Planning Commission to Discuss 54 West Retail Proposal on September 10

The September 10 meeting of the Peachtree City Planning Commission will include a general discussion on the proposed Central Park at Line Creek retail development on south side of Highway 54 West. The new project is being proposed by Doug McMurrain of RAM Development following meetings with the immediate neighbors, residents of Planterra Ridge and Cardiff Park. Mr. McMurrain presented the proposal, with the apparent support of the neighbors, to the Mayor and Council in a workshop session on Tuesday, September 4.
The property for the proposed development is currently zoned GC General Commercial, which allows for retail construction. However, the plan includes a “big box” retail store and two other buildings that would require a Special Use Permit before the development could move forward.

At Monday’s meeting, the Planning Commission will hold a general discussion to allow more opportunity for the general public beyond the immediate neighbors to see the proposal and give input. No approvals for the project will be granted on Monday night.

Prior to submitting a formal application, the developer would first have to approach Council about abandoning the right-of-way for two city-owned streets currently within the property, Line Creek Drive and Line Creek Circle.

If that request were approved, the project would still need to proceed through the Planning Commission’s regular application and approval process, and the Special Use Permit would have to come before the Mayor and Council at a future meeting.

The Planning Commission meeting begins at 7:00 PM and will be held at City Hall. The public is invited to attend.

Submitted by Soldier Boy on Sun, 09/09/2007 - 9:37pm.

Sounds like somebody is getting a kickback $$$$$$ or they would not be trying so hard. that sounds like the Mayor.

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