PTC OK's annexation with no specific plan

Thu, 11/06/2008 - 8:31pm
By: John Munford

City Planner envisions office use as future for 35 acres but it's rezoned for residential use

The Peachtree City Council voted unanimously tonight to annex 35 acres on the northern end of the city near Ga. Highway 74 and Old Senoia Road.

It was an ironic first for Peachtree City, as this is the city’s first-ever annexation to be approved without a specific land plan for the city, which is often touted as a “planned community.”

The land was rezoned as agriculture reserve, which allows for a residential subdivision with minimum size of one acre each, but the property will be rezoned in the future once a plan is suggested by the property owners, said City Planner David Rast.

If it had remained in the county under its previous zoning, the minimum lot size would have been five acres.

Rast said he likely would recommend the site be rezoned in the future for office use instead of allowing for more residential development to take place in the Wilksmoor Village. But the city is amending its land use plan so this 35 acre site would be earmarked for low density residential use.

The annexation was requested by Scarborough and Rolader Development, which doesn’t own or have a contract on all four of the parcels that comprise the 35 acre tract. The company owns a 400-acre tract to the west and north that has been zoned for an “active adult” community limited to residents 55 and over.

Some residents have scoffed that the city would consider accepting land that is “unplanned.”

Resident Frances Meaders, a former city clerk, said she was surprised the city was considering approval of the annexation without a specific plan for developing the site.

“I worked here for 25 years and I don’t ever remember bringing an annexation without a rezoning or a plan,” Meaders said. “I’m surprised you as the city council would accept this without some idea of what is happening. We’ve got a developer making the request. Do I need to say more?”

Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett said one of the reasons to annex the property was because it’s already being served by city police and fire services, so the annexation would require those property owners to pay city taxes as their fair share.

Plunkett said the annexation also “tightens up” the city’s borders by eliminating the “island” created by the annexations earlier this year to the north, west and southern boundaries of the 35-acre tract.

Councilman Doug Sturbaum said this site was the first one considered to relocate Atlanta Christian College from East Point.

Councilman Don Haddix said he learned recently at a training meeting for council members that state law requires cities to avoid creating islands by annexation, and also requires them to “get rid of” such islands when possible.

City Attorney Ted Meeker said that prior to the rezoning earlier this year for more than 800 acres, that entire area had been considered an island because it bordered Coweta County, Tyrone and Peachtree City.

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Submitted by MYTMITE on Thu, 11/06/2008 - 9:45pm.

I think we can give up the idea of living in a 'planned community". There definitely seems a plan-but that plan seems to be to see just how much can be jammed down our throats. Now we are giving appropal for annexation without any rezoning or plan. Down the road when the developers want to throw up somethng we all disagree with the council will be saying "Well, we can't do anything about it it was approved and we don't want to be sued." That song is getting old. Little by little, whittle by whittle Peachtree is fast disappearing and we are becoming an overcrowded, ugly little town. Rest in peace---

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 12:30am.

Frustration understood.

Having to take it in was a reality created in how the big annexations were handled. The created what should not have been created.

The control now lies in the year 'grace' period where any attempt to rezone can be rejected by the county. Then by being under a new Council majority that hopefully will be strong advocates of the PTC Vision and willing to just tell developers no to unwanted rezoning requests.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

Robert W. Morgan's picture
Submitted by Robert W. Morgan on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 6:32am.

I'm glad you are learning about the state law regarding island annexations. Nevertheless you (all 5 of you) missed the boat on this one. It would have been very simple to require a land use plan before annexation and if there are multiple owners who don't want to spend money for the plan - do it yourself! Meaning the Planning Dept. It would take about 2 hours of staff time to do a bubble diagram for that much land and adopt that as the land use plan for that parcel and you would of had a standard against which all future rezoning requests could have been measured, It has been done before and it is the ultimate method of control.

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 7:14am.

...but do really think that our city staff would be so creative? The concept of a strong city manager and a relatively weak part time Council has never been as obvious. Besides, it would take far longer than the two hours Mr Morgan mentions to get this task going much less completed-it's not to their advantage to do so.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 11:12am.

Robert, with all due respect, I am not just learning about annexations. I am trying to ensure I keep up with the changes. And what I referred to from GMA are about recent changes, not long standing standards for annexation.

There was another area with multiple owners wanted to be annexed in on their terms that I negotiated with earlier this year for about 3 months. It is one of the problem areas that ultimately we need in to trim out our borders, infrastructure and service issues out properly. I had lead and got them all on board with an acceptable master plan, but then one decided waiting for a GC rezoning would be more profitable for their property.

So I rejected the annexation and they can stay in the county. I have the two other votes backing me to make this one stick. So you haven't even heard about this until now because it turned out right.

There has been months of various contacts and communications with the owners of the now annexed property. More than one has no intention of selling anytime soon or in changing their current zoning. So the land is actually planned for the intended use by the owners. The idea only developers' wants constitute legitimate planning is a false notion. It is properly planned for this day and time. So The Citizen got it wrong on no plan and we didn't miss the boat.

The real issue here is when the day comes, which could be years from now, who will be sitting on Council to decide. Will they be pro developer or pro PTC Vision?

And yes, we can say no to a developer, which Doug and I have, in more than one 3-2 vote, but the majority didn't. They do not have to get what they want simply because they own the land and are developers. An old notion that has no standing in law or reality.

Mike is right and many citizens do not understand it. We are a Council/Manager government. That means we give guidance and the City Manager does the day to day until we change the guidance or step in on special issues. It means some issues never even make it to us. It means that in executive and legislative functions Post Members and the Mayor are dead equal in power, except from some administrative exceptions.

Personally, I have some issues with some balances between the City Manager and Council authorities. I think some issues of information and actions have been shifted too heavily to the Manager.

But that gets into is the Council full or part time. At 38,000 part time is a struggle to keep. I know I have not been able to. The retired members have to do what the working ones cannot.

I am not talking the day to day operations, which is the City Manager's job. I am talking relationships with other governments, policy issues, proposal issues, changes to ordinances, constituent relationships and the like. Those have become easily full time jobs in and of themselves.

Again, you are right on this issue Mike. There are a lot of issues in the Part Time Council/City Manager that are not obvious on the surface. Great system when the population is small. But it has problems when a city gets larger.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

NUK_1's picture
Submitted by NUK_1 on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 12:31pm.

Robert, with all due respect, I am not just learning about annexations. I am trying to ensure I keep up with the changes. And what I referred to from GMA are about recent changes, not long standing standards for annexation.

The present version of the "create no island" part of GA annexation law has existed for about 3 years already. The law is O.C.G.A 36-36-90. No mystery about it since several cities have been on an annexation spree the last couple of years.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Fri, 11/07/2008 - 4:00pm.

True on the date. But the enforcement aspect has not been happening for that long of a time. If it had then there would have been a lot less annexations ultimately approved by the State in the last couple of years.

It is still a recent law in governmental terms. Many cities are just finding out about it.

Apples, oranges and grapefruit distinctions, I agree.

Don Haddix
PTC Councilman
Post 1

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