PTC to vote Wednesday on road abandonment

Mon, 02/11/2008 - 9:34am
By: John Munford

Giving up roads would leave room for big box stores

Though no vote was taken either way, the Peachtree City Council appeared Thursday night to inch its way toward approving the abandonment of two city roads to make physical room for a big box store to be built at the southwest corner of Ga. Highway 54 West and Planterra Way.

Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett, who is in essence the swing vote breaking a 2-2 deadlock among the rest of council, said she wanted to make sure all the conditions agreed to by Capital City Development verbally at the meeting were instead in writing so they could be enforceable not just for CCD but any potential future owner of the property.

Council voted to table the matter and take it back up at a special called meeting Wednesday night so City Attorney Ted Meeker and CCD attorney Rick Lindsey could hammer out the necessary language for the conditions on the road abandonment.

Among the conditions CCD agreed to were the payment of at least $500,000 to the city in return for most of Line Creek Drive and all of Line Creek Circle. In addition to paying the appraised value for the roads, CCD also agreed if the roads were abandoned that no gas station would be developed on the property. Without the roads, the 14-acre site does not have enough room to place large retail big box stores due to required city setbacks from the city-owned roads.

Councilman Don Haddix said he thought the roads could not be abandoned legally because they serve a public purpose: to prevent development. Plunkett said she thought the public purpose for the road was to be able to negotiate a commercial development that would benefit the entire city. Haddix and councilman Doug Sturbaum have both said they don’t favor granting the road abandonment, and Mayor Harold Logsdon and Councilman Steve Boone have said they favor the abandonment.

Plunkett said she would not vote to approve a special use permit for a big box store around 100,000 square feet, nor did she like the idea of having say six stores of 50,000 square feet each. But she did like the idea of having two smaller stores as offered in another plan that was previously offered by CCD.

The parcel is zoned for general commercial use and backs directly up to the Cardiff Park subdivision. Several Cardiff Park residents said they supported the road abandonment so the shopping center has the ability to increase the buffer along the subdivision and also reduce the grade significantly to further screen the shopping center from their subdivision.

With the road abandonment, the buffer goes from 90-120 feet along Cardiff Park and the grade would lower by 20 feet or more. But without the roads in CCD’s possession, that would not be possible, Lindsey said. CCD also committed that with the road abandonment truck traffic would halt at 8 p.m., among other conditions on the development. Residents Phyllis Aguayo and Beth Pullias suggested that instead of getting money in return that the city swap the roads for land that could remain in the city’s possession ... perhaps even enhancing the nearby Line Creek Nature Area.

Resident Darcy Pitts said she wanted the city to acquire the rear of the parcel in a swap, and also that the city not allow any big box store on the parcel.

“The people on my side of the city are very concerned about making an exception and allowing someone to build a big box in Peachtree City,” Pitts said.

Even with the roads in hand, CCD will still need to petition the city for a special permit to build any big box store, defined in city ordinance as any store larger than 32,000 square feet or any shopping center greater than 150,000 square feet. So far no property owners or businesses have applied for such a permit under the city’s new permitting system for big boxes. The big box permit system was adopted in response to legal problems that cropped up during a lawsuit filed by a developer over what is now a shopping center in Kedron Village anchored by a Target superstore. The previous big box ordinance flat-out banned all big boxes in the city.

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Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 5:27pm.

Please go to last post on the Abandonment thread.

Quick Overview

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by peanutgallery on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 1:27pm.

After watching the “big box” saga unfold here in PTC over the past decade, this observer thinks that it’s time for the fat lady to sing taps on that issue. The concerns about having regional draw retailers locate within our borders made sense way back when, and I was fully engaged in the public opposition to them. But now that we have a mostly complete set of those “big foot” operators in place, the “Big Box” thing has become a toothless tiger for me. If you count the 4 mega grocery stores, the super Kmart, and several other big and almost big boxes like Bed, Bath & Beyond along with the Wall Mart, Home Depot, and Target stores we have close to a dozen “big boxes” already, what’s to fear about one or two more? Especially now that we have legally enforceable rules and procedures in place to shape and control their development.

Even more interesting to note is the fact that “The Avenue”, with it’s upscale collection of small retailers and a diversity of restaurants located nearby has become the “regional draw” that we feared way back when the “Big Box” issue still made sense. Go figure!

My interest at this point is much more focused on seeing the Rt 54 commercial road frontage at the Planterra Ridge sub-division get developed in a way that creates the least impact on the folks who live there, AND that gives the best “first impression” at our western entry gateway. Those good people have worked hard over the past 18 months to find a solution that does just that, but the old toothless tiger of a “big box” issue is still scaring some folks. A few even want to use another hollow issue to fight that old harmless beast, i.e., “Road Abandonment”.

That new issue really sounds awful until we take a closer look. The way to evaluate a piece of pavement is to determine who benefits from the thorough-fare and access it provides, i.e., “who uses it to get from where to where?” and “who needs to use it for access to their own property?”. The former developer of that property constructed those roads and deeded them to the city to maintain with our tax dollars as part of his failed plan to sell a bunch of small commercial parcels.

Since the current developer now owns ALL of the property served by the two little “go nowhere” roads in question, he is the only one who benefits from the thorough-fare and access they provide. That makes them just like the driveways most of us have on our own property. Why use our tax dollars to maintain the driveways on a developer’s property?

The only answer I have heard to that question so far is “To block the development of another Big Box”. That sounds like using a hollow issue to fight a toothless tiger to me. The sad thing is that the result could be a 20 pump gas station glaring it’s lights from that property 7 by 24 instead of something much easier to live with. BTW – the modis operande of those mega station gas operators is to use their volume buying power to run all of the independent local gas station operators out of business. They keep their profit margins low until the little guys are forced to close, and then we end up paying more for our gas AND for our repairs at some remote auto dealerships. Hmmm…let’s see, do we want another well crafted “big box”?, or would we rather have glaring lights and higher transportation costs? It’s time to get real about things.

Submitted by beenthere on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 8:37pm.

Some of us have been watching this "saga unfold" for longer than 10 years. Why is your focus on the entrance to Planterra and how it looks? That entire area was re-zoned at the bequest of another "developer" who wanted to maximize his profits. Planterra was zoned industrial. Re-zoning it into residential resulted in those residents (I'm guessing you must be one) believing that the city revolved around them. The sounds and smells of the surrounding area were an issue. Trains were loud. Industry created un-pleasant odors. Now somebody threatens to put a gas station at it's entrance.

WHA WHA WHA!!! Was the area at the entrance and surrounding area zoned for industrial/ commercial when you bought your property in there? Life here- including massive overcrowding of schools started with the inception of Planterra and it's residence believe their needs and wants should drive the future of the city.

If you think the decisions made now on this area won't affect the future demands of developers - ask yourself this. If the area where the Avenue now dominates the city landscape was still zoned industial instead of commercial - would there be so many empty store fronts down at Braelinn/Kroger/Crosstown? Everytime a developer gets a wild hair, buys out the existing landowners and then demands to follow McBully's extortion - we'll all have you to thank. Slippery Slope doesn't begin to describe this mess.

Submitted by Spyglass on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 3:33pm.

I would be inclined to vote for getting rid of the roads and approving the Kohls. I agree, what's to fear about one more big box?

bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 2:44pm.

”My interest at this point is much more focused on seeing the Rt 54 commercial road frontage at the Planterra Ridge sub-division get developed in a way that creates the least impact on the folks who live there”

I take it from you statement that you don’t care about the rest of the citizens of PTC.

Please remember that CCD's little development will require yet another stop light on Hwy. 54. So while your sitting there you can admire the view.

“the best “first impression” at our western entry gateway”

I’m afraid that the “first impression” has is destined to be “SHOP HERE” as you won’t be able to tell where the new Coweta shopping center ends and the PTC shopping center begins.

Just tell you friends, “when you see the Kohl’s, your in PTC”.

”Those good people have worked hard over the past 18 months to find a solution that does just that”

Those ‘good people’ have spent the last 18 months cowering to anything CCD showed them on the back of a napkin.

”The way to evaluate a piece of pavement is to determine who benefits from the thorough-fare and access it provides”

That’s just your interpretation of it. Thankfully, the actual law says “When it is determined that a section of the municipal street system has for any reason ceased to be used by the public to the extent that no substantial public purpose is served by it…”

”Since the current developer now owns ALL of the property served by the two little “go nowhere” roads in question”

I wonder how it is that a developer, that’s been doing business here for over a decade, just now figured out that he needs the property the roads occupy? Oh, that’s right, he did know. He figured he would just threaten a subdivision with a Hooters/Gas station until he got what he needed. That business model goes a long way in demonstrating his commitment to the community.

”the modis operande of those mega station gas operators is to use their volume buying power to run all of the independent local gas station operators out of business”

Really, is that what they do? Kinda like what a KOHL’s will do to a number of smaller, locally owned and operated retail stores in the Avenue and the rest of PTC.

If a gas station will under-price it’s competition until they’ll close what makes you think a KOHL’s won’t do the same thing?

Stay away from the Kool-Aid!

Submitted by peanutgallery on Mon, 02/11/2008 - 3:44pm.

Hi there "bad_ptc",

Gotta give you credit for putting your opinion about our city right up front, but feel the need to afford a few helpful suggestions re your comprehension of my initial comments.

1st, having a better "first impression" at the western gateway to PTC is actually about doing what is best for all of us who live here(BTW - Do you?). More importantly, have you taken the time and effort to look at the alternate development plans about to be decided on this week?

I have, and we all owe the embattled residents over in the Cardiff Park and Planterra Ridge sub-divisions a debt of gratitide for winning some major concessions from the development group over the past 18 months.

Lots of trees set into a huge parking area set-back, a front facade designed to look like a row of smaller stores, infrastructure that is ready to be converted into use by multiple tennants when/if needed, AND the rear grade reduction necessary to give max separation for the folks who live behind it were the things that caught my attention. I give the folks who won those concessions an A+ on their efforts on our behalf.

2nd, If it turns out to be a Kohl's on that tract(doubt it because some folks assume that all Kohl's are the same regardless of the demographics in the area they serve, and also that they are "not worthy" of being located within our pristine borders), let's give their mgmt credit for knowing something about the retail biz. No way they are planning to put a store on WallMart's doorstep and try to sell the same kind of stuff cheaper. Better chance they plan to stock their upscale brands of merchandise at that store, and also to offer items which fill in the gaps of what is available from shops over in "The Avenue" at that higher quality level.

My hopes were that would mean a few less trips to the new Dillard's in Newnan and/or up to Lennox Square when the wife just has to have "something special" and cannot find it in town. Too bad Macy's is not interested in locating here, bet it would slide right through.

Submitted by R. Butler on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 1:15pm.

This has never been an issue about the right of the developer in making his case for a fair use of the property. CCD knew exactly what they were getting when they made the decision to purchase the property in the first case. More so given the involvement of Mr. McMurrain in the West Hwy 54 Overlay District process.

Under the present zoning, CCD never had a reasonable expectation that a big-box store would be permitted, and certainly could never have had any expectation that the City of Peachtree City would sell (or cede) public streets for this venture. Now, should these roads be given to the development company (especially if paid for), CCD will have every expectation that the big box zoning variance they want will be granted by the city council. And if not, CCD will have a very strong case in court to force the issue. Has our city council learned nothing from the Lowes experience, where it was noted that we grant so many exceptions for our commercial zoning that it has become the norm for developers to now expect them. Can we really give public roads to this developer, take his money, and then try and tell him with a straight face that he should not count on a big-box variance in the future?

As a resident of Planterra Ridge, I am aware that the Planterra Ridge Homeowners Association has not taken a position on the Kohls option, but has instead encouraged it's residents to make their voices heard at council meetings. I also get to pass through our 'western' commercial district every day. After over a year, RAM development still has not filled the store capacity that it created. So how does that play into the city tax revenue? And the landscaping and buffering plan promised three years ago by RAM doesn't look anything like what exists today. Given that CCD is already playing hardball with the city to cover their exposure on the 'interest-only' loan for the property, one should not count on the money being there at the back end landscaping commitments.

I would also remind readers that Kohl's will be a seven day a week/24 hour operation in some respects. My wife used to work at the one in Newnan. The often open as early as five in the morning for sales events. They close at 10 pm. And stocking goes on throughout the night.

If CCD wants to really put up a gas station, an auto-parts store or a 'Hooters', then we should let them go through that process with the city planning commission and city council. If we actually enforce our ordinances and the West 54 overlay plan, then our 'quality of life' interests would be protected. However, to date, there has been little evidence to suggest that the Peachtree City Council gives much weight to the views of the people who actually live here. Maybe if they did, the residents of Cardiff Park might not feel compelled to put their faith in the hands of CCD.

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 1:26pm.

Not too hard to install a hooters, and other such places, inside a KOHLS when they die!
Has to be in the right place however.

bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 9:22am.

Good morning peanut

You conveniently skipped over the part about the impact an 80,000 sq. ft Kohl's will have on existing smaller, locally owned and operated retail businesses.

If CCD wants’ to build something like the Avenue, I'm all for it but please stop trying to convince me that something that 'looks' like the Avenue will actually 'be' like the Avenue.

As far as lowering the buildings into the hillside, it was explained to me that the grade slope of that property is close to 60 feet. If CCD didn't level the hill the east side of the shopping center would be 60 feet higher than the west side. The net result being CCD has to level the site anyway.

“I have, and we all owe the embattled residents over in the Cardiff Park and Planterra Ridge sub-divisions a debt of gratitide for winning some major concessions from the development group over the past 18 months."

Had the “embattled residents over in the Cardiff Park and Planterra Ridge“ done a little homework they would have known that the concessions that CCD has pledged, things such as 6” caliper trees, awnings and fountains for the site in their 24 point concession to get the Kohl’s are listed in the 54 W Overlay District as “requirements”. Mr. McMurrain knew they were requirements because he helped write the document. So in essence CCD is willing to offer PTC something that is already a requirement for them to provide.

CCD has said over and over again, "I've got to have a Big Box to anchor that development". Something I was recently told, don't know if it's the truth but it sounds logical, Kohl's has been fronting CCD the money for this development.

I'm not in retail but have many friends that are, as regional V.P.'s and store managers and they've all said the same thing about this proposal, "It will work just because it will kill off a large portion of the existing smaller shops."

In other words there is no tax revenue gain for the city. After two or three years the smaller shops will be gone and their tax's too. So please tell me how that helps PTC?

There is such a thing as oversaturation in the retail business.

As far as having the same shopping choices as Dillards or what Lennox Square has to offer I doubt that kind of disposable income is here in PTC to any great extent without regional draw. Besides, I don’t equate the quality of goods to be of equal footing between Kohl’s and Dillards.

Just about all of my Delta pilot neighbors are consolidating everything they own. Many lost there pensions and with the merger taking shape they’re worried about future financial hardships.

I'd be willing to bet the vast majority of PTC residents don't indorse your concept of "when the wife just has to have "something special". There are plenty of foreclosures here that would seem to disprove the theory that PTC has an unlimited amount of disposable income.

That your family can afford the "something specials" is commendable as you no doubt have worked hard to provide for your family. I just think you’re in the minority here.

The bottom line here is that the entire community should have been involved in this whole process, not just a small community. The HOA’s of Cardiff Park and Planterra supported Wilshire Estates HOA in their battle with Lowe’s and we sure would have supported our neighbors had we known about it, but we didn’t. To decide what is best for the community in a vacuum is something the city council is for.

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