Highway, utility expansion will kill 74S buffer

Fri, 09/12/2008 - 3:05pm
By: John Munford

A highway road project coupled with a new utility project are going to basically wipe out any hope of having a natural buffer along Ga. Highway 74 south for a new shopping center.

In response, the Peachtree City Planning Commission may consider eliminating an access road at the rear of the property so the buildings can be shifted back further from the highway to maintain at least some of the trees in the area.

The Wilshire Village shopping center will be directly across from the Wilshire Pavilion shopping center, and an Autozone, a Walgreens and a day care center have already been approved for the site, with plans underway to locate a branch of the Delta Community Credit Union there also.

Because the location is directly off the highway, it will be affected by the highway widening, even though planners took it into account in calculating the buffer requirements. The Georgia Department of Transportation has refused to allow utilities to be located in the highway right-of-way, causing another 20 feet to be reduced from the buffer, explained City Planner David Rast.

Also, Georgia Power is working to acquire an additional 40 feet beyond the 20-foot utility area for the location of transmission lines, Rast said. Though that is in the negotiation stage with shopping center owner Dominion Partners, it was noted that the utility has the power to condemn the property if necessary.

Both utility issues will kill the entire planned 60-foot tree save buffer required by the city, Rast said.

“There will be no buffer there. That’s why we all have heartburn,” said commissioner Marty Mullin, who noted that the shopping center initially faced significant opposition when it was considered to be rezoned for commercial use. Now, nearby residents are likely to be very upset over the latest developments, Mullin added.

“We’re gonna get blasted,” he said.

Rast noted that the city tried to negotiate with the Georgia Department of Transportation for the current widening project on Hwy. 74 between Cooper Circle and Ga. Highway 54, but DOT wouldn’t allow the utilities to be located on right-of-way, which pushed the power lines to being relocated further away, resulting in a significant loss of trees.

The transmission lines will be the large concrete style poles but they can be landscaped around with vegetation between 20 and 25 feet high, Rast said.

Resident Sharon Waples said troubles such as this are why residents get upset about some developments in the city.

“It’s distressing to see all the trees go,” Waples said. “... This doesn’t look anything like the original proposal.”

login to post comments