Latest delay on PTC cart bridge: easement at The Avenue

Wed, 10/15/2008 - 2:23pm
By: John Munford

Avenue submits appraisal at five times value of city's appraisal; meeting set for Thursday afternoon

The latest holdup slowing completion of the golf cart bridge on Ga. Highway 54 West is the acquisition of one last easement.

The easement in question is being sought from Cousins Properties, owner of The Avenue, as the golf cart path will need to connect to the shopping center's parking lot at the Books-A-Million store, city officials said.

The necessary land is located in the buffer for the shopping center so it can't be developed, officials confirmed.

But according to an email from Cousins, company officials contend it's worth more than $73,000. That's more than five times the $14,420 appraisal conducted on behalf of the city.

The city and Cousins representatives are due to discuss the issue in a meeting Thursday afternoon.

City officials have already acquired the two other easements necessary for construction: one from Ethan Allen and the other from Yard Time.

Once completed, the bridge and approach paths will allow golf carts and other pedestrians to use tunnels under Hwy. 54 to traverse over the railroad tracks and on both sides of the highway.

The project was previously delayed due to bureaucratic issues with the Georgia Department of Transportation and its consulting engineering firm.

The easements must be in hand before the city can finalize its construction drawings, which must be evaluated by DOT before construction can begin.

The bridge was initially supposed to be completed in April 2007, and council members have bristled over the various delays in the process. The main delay was blamed on a belabored review of whether or not the cart path violated clean air standards.

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Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 12:59pm.

and leave the Avenue out of the loop, so to say.

Why can't we get on with this?

Submitted by Arf on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 1:29pm.

I agree. Forget extending the path to the Avenue and get on with it. If the Avenue retailers are concerned then THEY will take it up with their landlord. The city is under no obligation to provide golf cart access to businesses, even though this is one of the things PTC used to be about.

This golf cart business is ridiculous. It sits there like a relic to bad government and inefficiency. Maybe it's not so ridiculous!

John Munford's picture
Submitted by John Munford on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 2:40pm.

If the Avenue connection isn't made, the folks on the northside of 54 don't have any way to go south.

So even if you want to go to, say, the post office or the Waffle House, you couldn't.

In other words, The Avenue is not the only destination that would be served by the connection, though it would likely get most of the benefits.

Submitted by winer on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 4:46pm.

... so maybe the memory is failing me. But I thought back in the day, PTC required businesses to connect to the cart path. I think I remember some hoopla over a funeral home that was not, could not, or did not want to connect to the cart path. At the time I wondered how many people would use a golf cart to go a funeral home. It was a long time ago and I can't remember which funeral home was involved.

If the Avenue wants to play hard ball on the cart path easement, how about the city enforcing the restrictions against the Avenue billboardettes?

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 3:19pm.

I live south of 54, in Spyglass, I can get to Huddleston and from there I could get to Best Buy (actually, the tunnel is usable now under 54 from Huddleston to the other side) Smiling, and from there the Pike Nursery, etc. Get started.

Submitted by PTCGOIL on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 4:11pm.

Huddleston Rd? I thought the one on the west side of the rr tracks, under 54, goes to Petsmart/Walmart?

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 8:26pm.

I never said I could get to Pikes etc, I say IF they would actually finish something, it's possible. But yes, the tunnel under 54, WEST of the tracks is fine, you just have to do a little off-roading.

Submitted by Arf on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 2:54pm.

Likewise, the people from the outhside of 54 don't have any way to go north. So, even if they wanted to go to, say, Smokey Bones, Staples or Walmart or Home Depot, they couldn't (easily.)

My underlying point was that if the city just continues to let developers come in and make all the rules, then we really just don't have a unified city at all. It sounds like Cousins wants a large premium paid just so they will "allow" PTC to remain
the community that it's supposed to be. Nobody wants the Avenue cut off, but many people want the city to stop bending over to every developer demand, no matter how ludicrous they are.

John Munford's picture
Submitted by John Munford on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 3:11pm.

I agree with you; from a former PTC resident's standpoint it doesn't make sense to ostracize the golf carts.

Do you think people would be more upset if the city caved and cut the $73K check to Cousins instead of insisting on a fair market price?

Some people have asked how this project could have been sped up from the beginning. The answer: ditch the state grant. They end up being far more of a headache than anyone bargained for.

Submitted by Arf on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 3:27pm.

I do think people would be upset with the city paying $73K, especially when this should have been in the plans and settles $-wise long ago. But a precedence has recently been set where the city bends under pressure from developers over and over (McMurrain's shopping center and traffic light.) But...I really think citizens would be more upset if there is no golf cart access between the two sides of Hwy 54, as that was the original plan and proposal and probably needs to happen.

And I agree wholeheartedly with you about state grants. We have had far more problems in this community by having to work through the state, the fed, the ARC and the DOT. The golf cart bridge, Huddleston Pond, Highway 74 widening, traffic lights, traffic lights, traffic lights. Sorry. Not really complaining - just fed up with it all.

Spear Road Guy's picture
Submitted by Spear Road Guy on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 9:52am.

I disagree with Mike King. There are golf carts all over that area.

Do you remember how Cousins backed out of doing the Christmas program when a few shoppers complained? Well, if they say "no" to the city, we need to start complaining as loud as we can.

Vote Republican

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 7:14pm.

...disagree? All of us presumably see the convenience of the bridge and certainly the number of golf carts make the venture a plus for the city, but why do we need to have the project delayed again and again?

Certainly the city officials knew the requirements existed to coordinate with the DOT, the property owners, and others. After all, this is not the first such bridge built in Peachtree City. Our Mayor made it an initial priority of his administration as he saw it as an embarrassment. But times and priorities and perhaps competence have come to the fore and as it stands Harold will probably have to be reelected to have it completed during his watch.

My point being that all this "leg work" would have been completed had someone involved took the responsibility to take charge of the project. Now all we have is issues cropping up every so often that causes delay after delay adding to the embarrassment that should be felt by city hall.

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 8:29pm.

On any issue of size, you would know their frustration. It sucks, but the State is probably to blame on this one. I say that because I don't see problems on our cart paths in areas NOT involving the State DOT.

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 9:49am.

You can find an email link on their Avenue Website..

Submitted by PTCGOIL on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 9:35am.

Avenue- it is not open to the public. Let's see what comes out of this. Hopefully Cousins will continue with their philosophy (directly from their own Web site of "creative industry leading development", being "innovative and successful" and to "help create a sense of community". What better way to demonstrate these qualities than to get this easement signed at a minimal cost to Peachtree City.

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 10:52pm.

Abysmal and totally out of character for a city boasting a $23M budget and one of the states highest city payrolls(comparative sized cities) to begin this project under the previous mayor's administration and to be completed under the current mayor would require his reelection. Mr McMullen and his so called engineers simply toss out a different excuse every three months and the gullible citizens we are just shake our collective heads in dismay.

Do we now allow government employees to forsake any management expertise or perhaps remember what was done for the other bridges that cross Hwys 74 and 54? This bridge will likely match the time between President Kennedy's challenge to put a man on the moon within his final decade and our nation's accomplishment of that feat. But, I digress, this is rocket science to some.

It is my humble opinion that our City Council should begin to either light a fire under some bureaucrats or replace them.

Mr Mayor, please get your business partner off his rear end-he's starting to embarass even you.

SouthernBelle's picture
Submitted by SouthernBelle on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 10:55pm.

Good to see you!

SouthernBelle, GRACE is a VIRTUE

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 11:03pm.

Likewise, I'm sure.

Submitted by ddodge on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:31pm.

Why weren't these easement aquired a couple of years ago? You knew that the bridge was going in there and now it appears the owners of the Avenue are holding the gun to our heads. Perhaps a couple of years ago, we could have made a better deal.

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 5:47am.

The way professionals do this is they get the landowner/developer to commit to the easement in writing bedore you give them their rezoning or building permit. That way you get what you want (and in PTC's case it is required by law - cartpath connection, that is) and you get it for free and you get it ahead of time.

It is called planning ahead and complying with the law. It is also called doing your job if you are or staff or planning commission or city council or the city attorney. Anyone of you out there have the courage or the time to ask city hall for who was in charge when Cousins got their zoning and who dropped the ball? Whoever did has cost us plenty of money.

I hope somebody pursues this - I don't have the time with the economics fires I have to put out - but we can put the spotlight on whoever made the mistake and maybe even learn from our mistakes.

Submitted by Spyglass on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 9:44am.

If I am interpreting your comments correctly, you believe that PTC should have "unlimited golf cart path easement rights" to every developed property in the City. Do you really think that is feasible?

Submitted by PTCGOIL on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 9:42pm.

before the bridge came about. Now, after the fact, my issue is to let everyone know that a very large property management property is not interested in the good of this City, where their tenants have enjoyed the profits that WE provide their retail businesses. I WANT to spend my money right here, if possible. Wasn't that the whole purpose of having the Avenue come here in the first place? Local shopping, as opposed to driving to Fayetteville or Newnan or Atlanta? Our quality of life here is, whether we use it or not, dependent on the path system and I want us all to stand up to any entity or corporation that chooses to ignore MY RIGHT to enjoy what we have here. Why can't Cousins take the high road and AGREE that this is a community quality of life issue that needs to be resolved for the benefit to the City that allowed them to build here?

cyclecircuit's picture
Submitted by cyclecircuit on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 6:46pm.

I agree that the developer is asking for an amount that appears to far exceed that of the "appraisal conducted on behalf of the city" (you gotta wonder about that don't you?), but, do you think that a boycott of the Avenues is the answer? And who's to say that years down the road that this land that "can't be developed" may some how have a change of status? Or maybe this owner see's an oportunity to make a little extra money while times are so tough; besides, it's tax payer money, their gonna spend it on something any way. This is after all a free market economy, right? Maybe I play devils advocate a little too much seeing how far into this project we are and still without a contract for the required property. Sounds to me like some one may have dropped the ball.

mudcat's picture
Submitted by mudcat on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:08pm.

For crying out loud, PTC - grow a pair and take the land for the public good. How hard is that?

suggarfoot's picture
Submitted by suggarfoot on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:13pm.

no, but maybe that is what the 3 amigos have been trying todo with out walletts, at the BOE and don't know how to put it!

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:32pm.

Eminent Domain! Isn't that so much like socialism?

"I can't wait until tomorrow, because I get more lovable every day."

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:38pm.

Honestly, with all the bail outs going on I think we can forgo the "gasping" about socialism.
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

carbonunit52's picture
Submitted by carbonunit52 on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:41pm.

Yes, but from mudcat?

This statement may bring it's own gasps, but I do not like using eminent domain. Too damm liberal.

"I can't wait until tomorrow, because I get more lovable every day."

Cyclist's picture
Submitted by Cyclist on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:49pm.

you betcha and so were all these bail outs. Oh well. Hope to see you at the next gathering.
Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Submitted by Bonkers on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:19pm.

And another excuse!

Just who checked out the right of ways for this project?
Was it Doofus McDingleberry?

Could it possibly be that Cousins, the "Avenue" developer, had anything to do with all this? Lot of tax money going to the town from these businesses!

Evil Elvis's picture
Submitted by Evil Elvis on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 6:45pm.

There is at least one hold-up in Peachtree City not perpetrated by a young black male.


Submitted by Davids mom on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 7:41pm.

A misplaced attempt at humor. Smiling No one who has invested in Fayette County is 'delighted' at hold-ups happening to citizens and business owners. We want a community where our children and we feel safe. We need to help our law enforcement so that criminals know better than to come to Fayette County. The news today throughout the nation has shown that 'criminals' come in all shapes, sizes, and colors. Right?

Evil Elvis's picture
Submitted by Evil Elvis on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 9:22pm.

I was obviously playing on your apologetics and ethnic sensitivity.

You know, the silly way you constantly try to level things out with comments like "The news today throughout the nation has shown that 'criminals' come in all shapes, sizes, and colors".

And if you didn't catch it ... there was no robbery.


Submitted by MYTMITE on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 8:24pm.

Cousins should be donating this land as some of the major beneficiaries of this path would be the shops at the Avenue. I don't own a golf cart but if they are not more reasonable about this I will find other places to shop and the situation isn't what it was ten years ago. There are now many many places to shop that are not a long drive away and where you can get anything you can get at the Avenue and in many cases, at a cheaper price. Maybe we should start letting the shops there know how we feel about this situation.

Submitted by Nitpickers on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 3:45am.

Cousins is only "jacking up" the price so that when they work out a deal they will have a larger $ number to take off their taxes!

You ain't dealin with no amateurs here.

Submitted by PTCGOIL on Wed, 10/15/2008 - 4:04pm.

Would anyone who reads this NOT understand that the OWNERS of the land that these stores sit on are the delay? Why are the owners of the stores not up in arms over this? How much revenue for these stores has been lost by not allowing access to over 8 THOUSAND golf cart owners to spend their money here in town? It is mind boggling that Cousins is taking money out of the pockets(of the store owners at The Avenue) that pay it rent/lease money?????
We cannot allow Cousins to screw the taxpayers with this obscene dollar value they have placed on this weed and bush infested corner that will sit empty otherwise.
We, who live here, pay the taxes here and want to shop here, are going to be forced to pay 5 times more? Cousins, how many ways can you say you DON'T value our hard earned money? ALL GOLF CART OWNERS, DO WHAT YOU CAN TO BOYCOTT THE AVENUE IF THESE NEGOTIATIONS GO SOUTH. PEACHTREE CITY IS READY TO PUT ALL THESE CART PATH ACCESSES OUT TO BID AND THE ONLY HOLDUP IS COUSINS PROPERTIES UNREASONABLE DEMAND FOR THIS LARGE SUM OF MONEY!!!

Submitted by Tman on Thu, 10/16/2008 - 2:31pm.

The Store owners are upset. We know that the golf cart owners in this town have buying power. We are golf cart owners ourselves and would appreciate easier access to the Avenue. We have talked with our management about this issue and have been told that Cousins is meeting with city officials this evening. They had safety concerns about how the cut in to their property would be handled, i.e. lighting and fencing for the safety of the people who would utilize the path to access the Avenue. They were concerned about loosing several parking spaces in an already difficult parking environment. They also said that there has been no delay on their part as they just received this a month ago from the city and apparently with a large company it takes time to put these things together. The representative that we spoke to say the delay has nothing to do with Cousins; a counter offer with in a month with a project like this is not uncommon. They want to accommodate the City and want the golf carts to have access. The financial concerns we as citizens of our city all have are valid to a point. However, as with any negotiation most companies start engaging in, two parties start worlds apart and meet somewhere in the middle. Our concerns as both business owners and citizens of Peachtree City have been expressed to our Landlord and they are working on a resolution that will be beneficial for the merchants, citizens and of course satisfy their interests as well. We hope that this helps to inform from merchant standpoint that we are expressing a need to get this done! We as tax payers hope that our thoughts expressed to management here has helped to show Cousins the value to them in the long term to do this in a generous manner. I am praying for an amicable and expedient resolution, please join me!

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