Tyrone Council split on Hwy. 74 study

Fri, 02/20/2009 - 2:53pm
By: Ben Nelms

Tyrone Town Council was split 2-2 Thursday night on a decision to endorse Fayette County’s Land Use Study for the Ga. Highway 74 North Corridor. Fayette County Planning & Zoning Director Pete Frisina will return for the March 5 council meeting when all members are expected to be present.

Areas in the study include a mix of parcels totaling 480 acres on both sides of the highway north of Sandy Creek Road situated, often alternately, in the town and county. The study recommended establishing a Business Technology Park (BTP) zoning district on the west side of the highway and a Special Development District (SDD) on the east side.

Frisina said the county, in concert with the town, wanted to have similar goals, objectives, regulations and standards for the corridor area. With Tyrone’s endorsement, the study would be sent to Atlanta Regional Commission for review, a process that takes 60-120 days, Frisina said. He cited similar efforts by the county earlier this decade with the city of Fayetteville and Piedmont Fayette Hospital in developing the Highway 54 Corridor study in the area north of Hwy. 54 between Sandy Creek Road and Tyrone Road. Frisina cited other goals for the Hwy 74 study such as the efficient flow of traffic and the enhancement of the area that serves as a gateway to Fayette County. He added that the study included no new median cuts.

The BTP zoning district situated on tracts north of Kirkley Road would encourage development consisting of high-tech scientific research and development, light manufacturing, and professional offices with a limited amount of commercial space. Frisina said a proposed inter-parcel service road beginning at Kirkley Road and linking with Hwy. 74 near Fairburn city limits could be extended to intersect with Landrum Road a short distance away inside Fairburn. The area would also be required to have multi-use trails installed, said Frisina.

Office development in the SDD on the immediate east side of Hwy. 74 includes narrow parcels approximately 800 feet deep that extend along approximately three-fourths of the frontage between Sandy Creek Road and Fairburn city limits. Incentives would be provided to assemble properties of a minimum of 10 acres with 600 feet of highway frontage, Frisina said. The east side development would also include a service road and multi-use trails, he said.

Questions by the council covered a range of issues pertaining to the study. Answering an initial question by council member Tracy Young, Frisina said the county was attempting to go forward with the land use study and was not considering any issues of imminent domain. Young said he had concerns about further traffic congestion along the Hwy. 74 corridor. Frisina responded, saying that, unfortunately, businesses want to locate on busy roads.

Councilwoman Grace Caldwell said she thought the technology park idea was a good one, adding that Office/Institutional businesses would help the tax base.

“If it was residential it would mean more schools to build and less taxes paid,” Caldwell said.

Also posing a question relating to wastewater disposal, Councilwoman Gloria Furr asked if the study included sewer. Frisina said it did not, adding that the area would have to be fitted with septic systems or community sewer services. That reality, Frisina said, would limit development to those businesses that did not generate large quantities of wastewater.

Noting that he would prefer not to see the area developed commercially, Councilman Eric Dial said, “You don’t need our approval. You’re asking for our endorsement.” Frisina agreed, adding that the county study was proposing essentially the same development plans the town already had in place.

“I’d rather have a seat at the table,” Dial said. “And if we don’t endorse it we won’t have a seat. That’s my concern.”

Weighing in on the topic during public comments, Planning Commission Chairman Gordon Shenkle said from a planning perspective it would be better to engage in a cooperative spirit with the county to plan together and share the management of the area.

“So tonight we need to set a mechanism to cooperate,” Shenkle said. His comment was buffered by statements made minutes earlier by Environmental Institute of Georgia (EIOG) Chairman Connie Thomas Biemiller who had outlined plans for the 310-acre nature preserve adjacent to Kirkley and Bohannon roads just inside Fairburn city limits. EIOG was made the trustee of the site in January.

Near the end of the discussion Frisina said the county wanted Tyrone to be involved with the plan for the area. The town’s participation would add consistency to any development that would impact the corridor.

At the end of the discussion Dial made a motion to endorse the study. The 2-2 split vote had Dial and Caldwell voting in favor of the motion and Young and Furr voting in opposition. Frisina said he would return for the March 5 council meeting when Mayor Don Rehwaldt would be in attendance.

Also at the meeting, the council voted 3-0 to accept a $1,000 donation from Fayette County School Board for the town library for the purchase of books and other educational materials for use by students during the evenings and summer.

Prior to the vote, Caldwell said she appreciated the donation but could not vote to accept it with teachers about to be replaced due to school system budget shortfalls. The money, Caldwell said, would be better spent by offsetting the salary of a teacher or a parapro.

Also commenting on the issue, Young said he had spoken with a school board member and with library head Julie Digby and had been told the funds came from a state grant. The school system was not using general fund money that could go to teachers or parapros, he said.

Contacted after the meeting, school board member Janet Smola said the funds came through the state’s Media Books Account line item.  Smola said the annual funding to school systems goes to libraries and media centers to purchase required reading materials.

Smola said that for the past 10-12 years each school system receives funds from the account. Each of Fayette’s libraries receive funding for the same amount, Smola said, adding that she did not know if other entities accepted the funds publically.

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Submitted by mysteryman on Mon, 02/23/2009 - 8:30pm.

Is Tyrone going to dictate policy now to Fayette County, considering their track record??? They cannot even fill out a balance sheet, let alone dictate policy over property that they do not own, or let alone have the means to purchase without condemnation, oh yeah i forgot how they like to disburse with condeming peoples property in the name of redevelopement. What a joke....PEACE..

Submitted by FCBookLady on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 11:13am.

The purpose of the grant is to enable the local libraries to make the books assigned by teachers available to students who didn't/couldn't get one from the school library or teacher and can't or don't want to buy a copy for a school assignment. This has been going on for years and years as a cooperative agreement between public libraries and public schools.

No need for paranoia...this was going on before the Smolas or the Wrights even lived in Fayette County.

Submitted by dontmakemesay on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 9:03am.

Hometown officials of 2 BOEs members are leery of where the money for the donation came from and the reason behind the donation.

People they live among and should know them better than most, don't trust their judgement and don't want to be associated with their escapades.

Wake up Fayette county. The BOE decisions make you look like fools.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 9:47am.

Janet Smola is the craftiest politician in Fayette County. After winning her home precinct in the 2008 election by a scant 16 votes, she realized she had to get busy to protect the "Gang of Three"'s scant one vote majority on the Fayette Board of Education.

Since her neighbor Lee Wright was gerrymandered onto the board by "redistricting" him into District 3, it is imperative to begin to buy as much goodwill as possible in Tyrone before Wright's term ends in 23 months.

Hence, the loud political grandstanding and Smola and Wright's largesse with public education tax money to stock the ailing Tyrone library's shelves. Another shining example of Smola's oft-stated "maximum flexibility" with education funds.

It doesn't matter that the FCBOE is in the greatest state of financial disarray since the board was founded decades ago, what matters is keeping Janet Smola, Terri Smith and Lee Wright in office, so that they may continue to gain experience in land development and speculation.

Submitted by FCBookLady on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 11:19am.

The school board districts were re-drawn after the 2000 census to make sure each of the five posts represented approximately the same numbers of citizens. They were drawn by someone at the state with the help of Marion Key. At that time, Mickey Littlefied was on the school board in post now represented by Lee Wright.

Submitted by lindasnola on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 11:10am.

map. Wright is at the edge of his district. I wonder where he was before?

Submitted by lindasnola on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 10:39am.

I didn't know the area was redistricted. Mike Smola has been on the Tyrone town council. Lee Wright has been on the Tyrone planning commission. Both work as some sort of bookkeepers for Delta and its subsidiaries. What a coincidence.


bad_ptc's picture
Submitted by bad_ptc on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 11:16am.

He was fired and summarily escorted out of the building around the middle of 2008.

Submitted by lindasnola on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 11:24am.

confused. I don't know about escorted out, but someone said Mr Smola was let go and then got a lawyer and retained his job. I don't know.

sniffles5's picture
Submitted by sniffles5 on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 3:22pm.

I heard, albeit second-hand, that Lee Wright had his financial analyst position abolished at Delta and that he is now gainfully employed by the State of Georgia.

I hope the state of Georgia has sufficient gallons of red ink to accomodate his arrival.

In retrospect, we got a clear (though probably unintentional) insight into Wright's character when he described his public service career to the Citizen: "It wasn't always easy, but it has been very rewarding".

Submitted by heatjam on Fri, 02/20/2009 - 8:26pm.

It's great that the BofE was so generous as to give the Tyrone Library $$, yet my child's elementary school media center did not get any money this year. Thanks B of E!! Not!!!

Submitted by FCBookLady on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 11:21am.

Does your child's media center have employees? Does your child's media center have computers? Does your child's media center have books, magazines, videos, materials for teachers to use in their classrooms?

If so, your child's media center got money this year.

You can thank the BOE.

Submitted by lindasnola on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 11:33am.

You can thank US TAXPAYERS for the money. You can thank the BOE for squandering it on the large land for sale sign on their website and the empty Rivers multi million dollar school. That is what you can take credit for. Get a life and a job. Do it the hard way. Earn a living like the rest do.

Submitted by dontmakemesay on Sat, 02/21/2009 - 10:24am.

Why? That was the question some asked. They were told that it was use it or loose it type money and that an equal amount was given to the other libraries.

If that is not the case and something else was in mind, Tyrone's hands are clean. That is the whole point. No one trust the BOE.
I think most in Tyrone wouldn't do anything for the Smolas, if the GAVE them a library. That is how bad it is.

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