Road vote likely to OK sale Wed. night

Tue, 02/12/2008 - 5:30pm
By: John Munford

Pact on abandoning 2 city streets being brokered; expected 3-2 vote will mean ‘smaller’ big boxes

The Peachtree City Council seems poised to approve by a 3-2 vote Wednesday night [Feb. 13] a plan to abandon two roads off Ga. Highway 54 West so the land can be purchased by a shopping center developer.

Last week the council directed City Attorney Ted Meeker to craft a written agreement with Capital City Development governing all the conditions for the potential abandonment of Line Creek Drive and Line Creek Circle. That development agreement is expected to be ready by the 7 p.m. special called meeting at City Hall Wednesday night [Feb. 13].

If the roads remain as-is, CCD will be unable to build a big box store due to the city’s road setback requirements. Some citizens have suggested that the city should retain possession of the roads to prevent big boxes from being built on the commercially zoned 14-acre tract, located at the southwest corner of Hwy. 54 and Planterra Way.

Others have argued that the big boxes are necessary to allow for a higher-quality development and in turn a number of concessions CCD has agreed to. Many of those concessions would screen the shopping center from the view of the adjacent Cardiff Park neighborhood.

Capital City Development has pledged to pay at least $500,000 for the roads, or pay the appraised value for the roads if it’s more than $500,000. CCD has also submitted a plan that would have no big boxes on the site, but instead features a gas station directly off the highway anchoring a 99,000-square-foot shopping center.

That gas station plan was denied recently by the city’s Planning Commission, and the appeal of that decision is also on the agenda for Wednesday night.

Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett — the swing vote in the controversial proposal — said Tuesday that the development agreement, if approved by the council, would be enforceable not only on the current landowner but also on future landowners.

Last week Plunkett said she wouldn’t vote to approve a big box retail store as large as 100,000 square feet, but she would consider voting for two smaller big box stores on the property. The smaller stores, around 40,000 square feet or so, are much easier to replace with new retailers should they become vacant at some point, Plunkett said.

Because the property is already zoned for commercial use, the council has little control over the ultimate development of the property save for the road abandonment issue, Plunkett said.

“It will definitely be developed sooner versus later, and all we can do is try and shape the project,” Plunkett said.

Plunkett is widely considered the deciding vote on the matter as new council members Doug Sturbaum and Don Haddix have firmly opposed big box development for the site, while Mayor Harold Logsdon and Councilman Steve Boone have said they favor it.

Logsdon has said if the city doesn’t allow a big box on the site, the retailers instead will go to a shopping center proposed just across the county line in Coweta County, and the city would lose the sales tax revenue but still have traffic problems. Haddix said national studies have shown that big box retail stores cost more to cities than is reaped in tax income.

Plunkett said a city official has told her it’s unlikely the shopping center would require a new traffic light for Line Creek Drive in large part due to the proximity of the stoplights at Planterra Way and at MacDuff Parkway.

The Georgia Department of Transportation is in charge of determining when traffic signals are warranted on state highways, with most of the criteria addressing the expected traffic that would be generated by the new development.

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mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 7:44pm.

Good compromise. Cardiff gets their buffer, McMurrain get his streets and big/medium boxes and Harold or Tim will get that condo in Florida that he tried to give to Steve Brown. Win, win, win.

Cyndi gets to be the facilitator and is almost certainly the next mayor.

Gotta love it.

Submitted by R. Butler on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 10:06pm.

Did anyone else catch the accompanying story about the 'not so fast' development schedule for McIntosh Village. One can only wonder if the 3000 plus residential units that was supposed to be going into East Coweta is a factor in Kohl's consideration of a new store in Peachtree City.

But I am sure that the potential for a general economic downturn has been taken into account by our city council when they roll over on this issue. And that Kohl's will happily spend the necessary capital to build into a location that has a substantially lower number of customers than expected in the near term. Because smart corporations do that, right? Otherwise, one might think that the growing number of "For Lease" signs on RAM's West HWY 54 retail development program would raise some questions about the suitability of adding even more retail space to that area.

Submitted by Spyglass on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 10:21pm.

It's just a matter of "what" will go there. Rest assured, Kohls would love the site.

Commercial zoning exists on this property. It's up to our Council to get the best looking development possible.

Submitted by R. Butler on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 10:34am.

"It's just a matter of "what" will go there. Rest assured, Kohls would love the site."

I am not sure how you (or anyone) at this juncture can know this as a fact. I have tried to follow this issue closely, and I don't recall any formal commitment from Kohl's Corporate being made as part of the process. If it out there, please share with us (and the City Council perhaps). Otherwise, all we are left with is the word of the developer, who (if believed in this case) also claims that "Hooters", a major gas station chain, and a major auto parts supplier would also love this site.

As I noted in a previous post, I have no heartburn with Capital City Development (CCD) trying to make a fair return on investment here. The property is zoned commercial. However, CCD is not interested in developing the property in line with existing zoning, it wants to instead put something up which is not envisioned in either the West 54 Overlay or by our city zoning ordinances concerning big-box stores. From square one, CCD has not approached this process with any good faith towards the citizens of Peachtree City. They knew the limits of the property and subsequently undertook a campaign of coercian against local homeowners to convince them it was a "big-box or else..."

If CCD wants to put in a gas station, fine. CCD should know of the various county and city ordinances--as well as state environmental laws on the subject. It will no doubt be a modern, well-designed and aesthetically pleasing building to fit in with the character of the city. Same with a Hooters restaurant. And if CCD really believes that the backyard car mechanic crowd in Peachtree City could make an auto parts store a viable financial option, then they should build it. In any case, it will be an improvement over the structures that were previously on the property. And it would also be in compliance with existing site zoning.

But the idea of ceding public roads to facilite this is just not good policy. It will open the door for every future developer to ask for the exact same consideration. And the first time our City Council tries to say no, the developer will have every right to take us to court and argue that such a denial is being unfairly applied to him/her in light of the CCD approval.

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 10:58am.

but that's what these blogs are about. I never said I thought Kohls would be my first choice for the site. I did say they would be interested. I firmly believe this. IF they don't build here, they will probably build just over the County line at the new development at Fisher's Luck. Maybe that's the better spot for them.

All that said, I fall more in line with what has been called the 2nd proposal for this property. 2 stores of around 40 thousand square feet or so.

I rode up into the site on the roads that we are thinking of selling, and in all reality, I'm not sure what good it does for the city to keep maintaining them for the owner. They only service his property, at least as best I can tell.

I would be against a gas station, but a Hooters wouldn't bother me at all. I guess we all have opinions. Smiling

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 11:39am.

I would agree with Spyglass in that two smaller venues with one being perhaps a Kohls. For even this to happen, the streets would almost certainly have to be controlled by CCD.

While advantageous to the city, abandoning the streets would have lasting consequences for Peachtree City should the issue reappear elsewhere. The legality of abandonment can be argued, but should the vote go that way, watch the lawsuits fly and the only loser in the whole ordeal will be Peachtree City.

Sometimes common sense must prevail and since the property was purchased with knowledge of the public roads, the Council should simply tell Mr McMurrain "no sale", and develop within existing contraints, etc. We may end up with a couple more restaurants or whatever, but they can and should be constructed so as to not be an eyesore upon entry into Peachtree City from the west.

By this option, we still gain retail revenue and end up with structures that will be much easier to backfill when one or more closes.

The losers with this option are, of course, the residents of Cardiff Park and Planterra Ridge.

Submitted by R. Butler on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 3:42pm.

What I want to know is if we say "yes" on this issue to Mr. McMurrain and CCD now, how can we defend saying "no" to the next developer who wants the city to sell or cede roads, or even greenspace, in the future so they can potentially avoid setback requirements (not to mention the big-box ordinance generally).

Didn't Fayette County Superior Court Judge Paschal English specifically cite this failure to consistently enforce our own zoning regulations by the City Council as a major factor why a developer should be permitted to put a Lowe's big-box in an industrial zoned parcel?

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 4:03pm.

Should we sell/abandon the roads this will open the door to other similar actions. The roads/streets should remain under city control and development should be accomplished accordingly.

Each Councilman is cognizant of this and, for the life of me, I cannot see why this issue has not been resolved much sooner.

Submitted by Spyglass on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 4:58pm.

In all reality, I'm sitting here thinking of another road/roads that fits the bill of these were are speaking about. You have a landowner who owns ALL of the land surrounding said road, no access to other property is derived by these said roads, (unless I'm totally off base, which has happened, believe me). Where I come from, that's called a driveway.

Maybe we have a good many other roads that would fit the description of these, if so, I would be curious as to where they are. And I would also probably change my opinion on this subject.

Regardless, I'm still not in favor of a store of close to 100K square feet.

bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 7:58pm.

So I pulled out my trusty PTC map and looked.

Looking at property off of Huddleston Drive and Dividend Drive I see Fulton Ct., Prospect Park and Dividend Ct. All are already developed but who's to say a developer couldn't come in and buy up the existing businesses, that's what CCD did.

I'm sure there are others I've overlooked.

You raise a very valid point.

Submitted by sageadvice on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 10:19pm.

Good observation.
I also do not know for sure if our council has insured that a "KOHLS" only will be built there!
Will this developer be able to lease or sell to ANY big box which would take it?
Also, a couple of "Hooters types, another Starbucks, another wings place, a pawn shop, and a nails joint, would all fit inside one big box!
Even a gas station on one end!

Submitted by skyspy on Tue, 02/12/2008 - 8:23pm.

Put down the crack pipe and back away slowly......nobody will get hurt.

Cyndi has never taken a stance for the people....she is milk-toast.....she will wet her pants tommorrow and give mcBULLY his streets, (that should never be his) he can build his big box drug relocation center.

That is all mcBULLY is known for is building trashy big box stores, that the cops can use for drug stings. While I am all for helping the cops.....this stinks.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Wed, 02/13/2008 - 6:30am.

Hadn't thought about that, but there will be a next mayor - this year? next year?

Why not Cyndi - she will have a good record if she keeps her tie-breaker status and picks her fights carefully. Logsdon is starting to be as popular as Bush - even though I think both are doing a good job - but neither are popular. Funny how that works.

Nevertheless, Logsdon's replacement has to be somebody and logic would be with an existing council member and Cyndi is the only one with any credibility or a track record. Stuart K. could come back, but beyond that you get into the B team - Dar, Mike King, etc.

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