Is Peachtree City slipping in the "Top 100" rankings?

Sometimes I get bored. That's when I come online and read the musings that sometimes are confused with news articles on The Citizen.

So, in my most recent state of boredom, I navigated my web browser to the article entitled: "Haddix: Just say no to PTC big box permit." I don't really care whether or not the "big box" gets built or not. I do, however, care when I read statements like this:

He [Haddix] also argues that the city’s steady drop off the annual “best places to live” rankings has to do with deviating from the comprehensive plan and allowing large retail centers to be built.

Apparently, PTC is falling apart here. Unbeliever that I am (can you really believe what's in The Citizen?), I went to the source, the forum site Now I'm not sure if Don Haddix himself started this site, but it's the most confusing stuff I've ever attempted to read. I looked through the "54 Abandonment" topic, guessing since that was the "most read" it must be on the same topic in the Citizen article. So in going through that, sure enough, Haddix himself states PTC is the Atlanta Falcons of cities (that's bottom of the rankings, kids):

PTC is on the wrong path. We are becoming what many of us moved here not to be. In 2005 and 2006 we were ranked number 8 in places to live. We are not even in the top 100 now.

OK, like I said, I'm bored. I went to my best friend Google, and I said "Hey Google, tell me more about this best places to live stuff". And Google said, "Here ya go!".

Apparently Peachtree City is, or was, on the CNN/Money "Best Places to Live" lists, so I'll assume that's what Mr. Haddix is referring to.

Take a look for yourself!

First things first...the list has been published for three years. Now that's an enduring comparison Smiling

So the most recent information is 2007...Hey - PTC is number 64! Cool...

OK, let's go back to 2006...CRUD! They didn't make it! More on that later...

Let's go back to the pioneer days of this survey, all the way back to 2005!

So why the big descrepancy in two years? Well, I did a little more reading as to HOW and WHY the cities that were picked were picked.

OK, get some coffee, this is BOOORINNG.

2007 - How we picked the Best Places to Live
Working with data provider OnBoard and consultant Bert Sperling of, we set out to find the best towns in America. Here's how:

2,876 - Start with places that have populations above 7,500 and under 50,000.

974 - Screen out retirement-oriented communities, places where income is less than 90% or more than 180% of the state median and towns that are more than 95% white.

678 - Eliminate towns with low education scores, high crime rates, declines or sharp increases in population, projected job losses or lack of access to airports or teaching hospitals.

466 - Rank remaining places based on job, income and cost-of-living data; housing affordability; school quality; arts and leisure opportunities; ease of living; health-care access; and racial diversity.

70 - Gather more data on job markets, housing prices, schools and ambience. Interview community leaders and residents by phone.

25 - Visit and do more interviews. Assess the sense of community, vibrancy of town center, natural surroundings, amenities, real estate and congestion.

1 - Give Middleton, Wis., the nod, based on data and qualitative findings.

How we picked the Best Places to Live
Working with data provider OnBoard of New York and consultant Bert Sperling of, we set out to find livable locales that combine the best of city and suburban life. Here's how we did it.

745 - Start with places that have populations exceeding 50,000.

670 - Screen out cities of more than 300,000 people and retirement havens where more than 40% of the residents are over 50.

201 - Eliminate cities with low education scores, high crime rates, absurdly high housing costs, declines in employment or income less than 90% of the state median. Remove bedroom communities and places where people identify themselves as being from a smaller locale within the area.

90 - Once we narrowed down our list to 201 small cities, we ranked the remaining places based on what matters most: A Money/ICR poll of 1,005 Americans found that ample job opportunities, good schools, and low crime are the most important characteristics people look for in a place to live. Meanwhile, the most disliked attributes are congestion, high crime, and lack of job opportunities. Using this information, we ranked places using 38 quality-of-life indicators and 6 economic opportunity measures in the following categories: Ease of Living, Health, Education, Crime, Park space, Arts and Leisure.

Rank remaining places on economic opportunity, taking into account income, job growth and affordability; quality-of-life indicators, including risk of violent crime and property crime, quality of public schools, arts and leisure, park space and incidence of stress-related ailments; and "ease of living" gauges such as commute times, divorce rates, population density and weather. Limit counties to one city each, unless the No. 2 city has more than 75,000 in population and a distinct identity.

50 - Cull more data on job markets, housing prices, schools, ambience, weather and taxes. Interview local officials, residents and community leaders by phone.

20 - Visit and do more interviews. Assess congestion, natural surroundings, the vibrancy of town centers and sense of community.

1 - Award No. 1 rank to Fort Collins, based on data and qualitative findings.

Money magazine and CNN/Money teamed with data researchers at OnBoard to research the Best Places to Live for 2005.

OnBoard maintains a database of nearly 40,000 places. To narrow our search, we began by considering only those with population above 14,000, above-median household income, population growth and real estate appreciation over the past 5 years.

Those restrictions led to a list of roughly 1,100 places.

From there, we eliminated places that aren't within 60 miles of a major airport and 30 miles of a major teaching hospital.

We also eliminate towns with low education scores or that fall below the 25th percentile in any two of the following: unemployment, income growth, crime, or arts resources.

That left 850 towns, which we reviewed, weighing economic, education and safety factors twice as much as arts, leisure and park space.

We then limited any metropolitan area to one or two places to arrive at the list of 100 finalists.

To pick the winners, we culled more data on education, environment, housing affordability, taxes, commute times and job market. MONEY writers also interviewed residents and community leaders.

Our focus on income, crime rates and education rendered meaningless any comparisons between big cities and the relatively affluent suburbs or small cities that make up this list. Big cities couldn't compete on those particular numbers and, of course, they offer plenty of quality-of-life benefits that suburbs don't have. We'll look at big cities as part of another project in the future.

Also, a note on the definition of "place:" In assembling this list, we examined data from the zip codes that correspond to a place name designated by the postal service.

We do this because we can get more and better -- that is, more accurate -- data about an area using zip codes than by using Census designations or by looking only at an incorporated area, which often is a small part of what most people would consider a "place."

That's why our list gives an area population and not just the population of a municipality. In a few cases, in fact, there is no incorporated municipality corresponding to the place name.

OK, cliff notes?

Well, in 2007, the focus was on smaller communities, and PTC made the top 100 out of over 2,000, so that's cool. And if you look, compared to the top 10, the city is pretty well up there on the stats that they used to compare. Notice that PTC is woefully behind in the development of ski resorts and movie theaters. Hmmm...maybe they do need more retail!

In 2006, the lists were for areas larger than PTC's population. So we couldn't have made the list.

In 2005, well, the town just kicked butt.

So what have we learned?

1. PTC is not "off the list". The 2008 hasn't come out yet, and it's possible PTC may not be eligible for it.
2. Not following the "plan" has nothing to do with the fact, having more options for dining and entertainment might actually HELP the ranking!
3. Lists are silly, arbitrary and not truly indicative of a town's worth or value to its residents.

OK, back to the real world!

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Submitted by MYTMITE on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 10:21pm.

Just how long have you lived in Peachtree City? If a long time resident can you say you are truly happy with what is happening in our city?

Instead of giving full merit to your moniker"captain sarcasm" why not show some appreciation for a council member who has the welfare of all Peachtree residents at heart. What are you doing to make this city better--other than post long boring blogs?

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 8:40pm.

Try HERE for 2008.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Submitted by PTC_factchecker on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 8:52pm.

Thanks, Mr. Haddix. Here's the FAQ on how the 2008 list came to be, and I think it just might prove my points:

We ranked 296 Census-designated metro areas by business friendliness (Launching Score, % New Businesses) and lifestyle offerings (Living Score). Then, through reporting, we picked the town within each of the top 100 metro areas that best blends business and pleasure.

The details: We enlisted OnBoard, a data-collection agency in New York City, to gather relevant federal, state, and city statistics. Bert Sperling, a consultant based in Portland, Ore., and the author of Cities Ranked and Rated, provided additional data and helped crunch the numbers. We started by examining 296 Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs). An MSA, or metro hub, is a Census-designated region, consisting of a cluster of neighboring cities and towns that share many of the same economic and recreational resources. (See for more information.) Each MSA hub earned points based on business factors such as tax rates, job growth, and the number of airline flight connections within a 60-mile radius.

Next we assessed lifestyle factors in each hub (for instance, the number of parks and arts venues within a 15-mile radius, health infrastructure, and average temperatures). We then combined the business and lifestyle scores to arrive at a preliminary list of hubs, filtered out hubs with that appeared to have a low percentages of startups (based on the number of new businesses with fewer than 20 employees as a percentage of total businesses with fewer than 20 employees, in 2004, in 2004, the latest statistics available), and ranked the hubs accordingly. Last, we picked towns within each hub that demonstrated the strongest population growth and lowest crime rates; we also favored those with housing costs no greater than 120% or less than 80% of the median area cost.

Our reporters then interviewed entrepreneurs, local officials, and business experts to identify towns with the strongest small-business programs (such as tax incentives or favorable zoning regimes) and the most appealing leisure resources (such as a lively downtown, great fishing, or beautiful parks).

My question, then, is simple - if the list is compiled based on places that encourage businesses (FAVORABLE ZONING REGIMES), what would you call the integration of additional retail?

Two points additionally:

1. Each year the list's criteria change. So is it a fair comparison? I say no. It's like ranking sports teams by different categories every year.

2. Would you say the list has a very strong subjective component to it? I would say yes, further disqualifying it from anything other than a nice marketing ploy.

It's a shame that this year the list was in a small business focused when an objective list is available. Otherwise it's bunk.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Thu, 05/29/2008 - 6:53pm.

How do you take the time to do all this? Have a job? Have a life?

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