PTC may tackle building height

Fri, 12/05/2008 - 3:36pm
By: John Munford

Changes may require more landscaping, other concessions

Peachtree City may change the way it handles requests for buildings eclipsing 35 feet tall.

Currently the city requires such plans to be approved by the fire marshal and building official before they can be presented to the planning commission and considered for a variance by the City Council.

But a new change in the works would require developers to ultimately seek a special use permit from the City Council should they want a building taller than 35 feet. The new ordinance would maintain the current maximum height limit of 60 feet.

The new ordinance, as conceived at a joint meeting of the City Council and Planning Commission Tuesday night, would be particular about the type of landscaping and other upgrades that would be needed.

Councilman Don Haddix said he didn’t think the city should allow buildings over 35 feet tall because the feedback he’s gotten from residents is such buildings aren’t wanted.

But Planning Commission Chariman Marty Mullin said he would rather see flexibility in the city’s height regulations instead of a rigid 35-foot limit. Mullin said the problem with tall buildings is they need to be well-screened with sizable landscaping and also be designed well from an architecture standpoint.

The subject of the Delta Community Credit Union on Highway 74 north near Wisdom Road was discussed as an example of the height issue. Haddix said “a lot of citizens” have a problem with the height of the building.

Planning Commissioner Patrick Staples said if the trees in front of the building were about four times larger he would like the building even better.

Mullin agreed he thought the city should require large trees with trunks upwards of 10 inches in diameter for taller buildings.

Mayor Harold Logsdon said the city “ran off a hotel” by declining a variance for a hotel that wanted to push the 60-foot envelope. Haddix challenged that standpoint, arguing that the city does not need more hotel rooms.

Logsdon said local companies are sending some of their overnight guests to Newnan, particularly during the weekdays, because there aren’t enough hotel rooms in Peachtree City to house them all.

The hotel that was denied the variance, a Fairfield Inn, would have been located near the credit union off Ga. Highway 74. Under the current process the city would not have been able to require extra landscaping even if the building architecture was lacking, Plunkett said.

Haddix also said he thought a strict height limit was needed to regulate big box stores.

Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett said she thought the trees at the Kedron Village shopping center, which includes the Super Target, were too small to have the necessary impact.

“The trees were half the size they should be,” Plunkett said. “It’s ugly because there’s no green in the middle of it.”

Planning Commissioner Joe Frasar suggested the city limit the size of buildings based on the surrounding treeline. He said he came up with that idea after researching various other ordinances on height restrictions from other cities.

He also said that Santa Barbara, Calif. uses zones to determine how high a building can be built in a given area.

Logsdon said he liked the idea of the enhanced landscaping requirements.

Fire Chief Ed Eiswerth noted that larger building heights could affect the city’s insurance rating because based on how many are in a given area it could require an additional ladder truck to be in service.

Proponents of the special use permit process said it gives the city extra leeway to require more concessions from developers.

City Manager Bernie McMullen said city staff would go back to the drawing board to write a new ordinance for consideration at a later date.

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Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Tue, 12/09/2008 - 7:26am.

...Mr Mayor, speaking sans thought. Did Peachtree City run off the Fairfield Inn because of a 35' height restriction, or was it that they realized the timing was not right for yet another hotel in Peachtree City? Could it be that of the existing hotel/motels are running at a vacancy rate of more than 60%? Have they done so since the variance was turned down? Or could it be that this developer friendly Mayor is simply thinking aloud? Or could it be that they knew of the pending implosion of the profitability of the Tennis Center?

Now we're complaining about the size of trees in "new" projects-they aren't big enough. Does anyone in city government realize the cost and logistics for ten inch diameter trees? How about the 10-15 years it takes to grow a tree of that size.

Mr Haddix is correct, citizens want the restriction. After all, he is only doing what he was elected to do and that is voice the will of those who elected him.

Could it be that an election for Mayor is on the horizon?

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