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With Callula Hill, unplanning reaches its apex
[EDITOR'S NOTE: As of Thursday afternoon, the rezoning vote on Callula Hill has been postponed to mid-July.]
Once upon a time in Peachtree City’s history (like up to about 10 years ago), the volunteer Planning Commission served as the diligent, sometimes picky, but always faithful guardian of the city’s land use plan.
Up until the mid-1990s, so did the elected City Council.
That is now ancient history.
The new breed of volunteer arrives in town two months ago, gets appointed to the commission two weeks ago and two nights ago decides on the basis of his own personal aesthetics what should or should not be approved and built in Peachtree City.
To hell (or to irrelevance) with the city’s primary planning document. You remember: Peachtree City, a “planned city”?
Witness the latest witless unplanning of our “planned city” in a 3-to-2 vote to rezone 37 acres in the city’s industrial park to a high-end, dense residential-commercial lakeside development:
“[Planning Commissioner Joe] Frazar ultimately voted in favor of the rezoning, saying that he felt the property lent itself ideally to a residential use. Joining Frazar in favor were Theo Scott and Patrick Staples. Voting against were Lynda Wojcik and Larry Sussberg, who both said the proximity to the airport was a significant issue for them, particularly in light of the noise of planes taking off and landing.
“Wojcik also said she felt the plan was contrary to the city’s land use plan. But Staples noted that the city attorney has informed the commission that because of the uniqueness of the property such a rezoning would not set a precedent for other rezonings of land from industrial to commercial and residential uses.”
Thanks from an ancient resident of our once-planned city to Ms. Wojcik and Mr. Sussberg, who demonstrated fidelity to sound planning principles.
Unplanners Frazar, Scott and Staples must subscribe to that new-found virtue of “empathy” we hear much about from supporters of a self-described “wise Latina” as she awaits anointing to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The trio of unplanners empathize with every rezoning applicant and shopping center developer appearing before them. These unplanners positively ooze identification with the supplicants, always seeking some way — some tortured reading of the city plan or zoning rules — to give the developers what the developers want.
Guys (Frazar, Scott and Staples), let me be blunt with you: You have gone to work for the wrong employer. You should be working for us, the residents of Peachtree City. You should have as your first principle the wishes and welfare of the residents of the city as personified in the land use plan.
Where is your empathy for the city’s planning document? Where is your empathy for the city’s thousands of residents, most of whom would not share your enthusiasm for changing and even discarding the basic structure of the city?
Messrs. Frazar, Scott and Staples, your highest volunteer service for the citizens of Peachtree City at this low point would be to volunteer yourselves off the Planning Commission.
And now cometh the City Council, three of whose members are as deaf to residents’ wishes as those ceremonial bricks in front of City Hall.
I wrote many years ago that the big battle for Peachtree City’s soul would come with requests to rezone the city’s signature industrial park to residential uses, at ever higher densities.
The battle is here [postponed to mid-July] in the council chambers.
Callula Hill will set a planning precedent, a legal precedent and a moral precedent.
I’ve long since given up expecting any deference to the city’s history and planning cohesiveness from Mayor Harold Logsdon and Councilman Steve Boone. They simply ignore public opinion and consistently vote the developers’ way.
Councilwoman Cyndi Plunkett seems to hear only her own internal voices on issues like this, so long as the issue doesn’t negatively impact any recreation programs.
She has disappointed on many rezoning issues because she votes like a scared defense attorney cowering before a plaintiff’s (read: “developer’s”) lawyer. The public can afford to lose this one, she seems to suggest many times, so long as the city doesn’t get sued. Public opinion is at best a distraction for this councilwoman.
Councilmen Don Haddix and Doug Sturbaum reliably vote for strictly upholding the city’s carefully planned features. They usually are a minority.
The most important council vote in at least two years is coming [now in mid-July]. I’m afraid it will be 3-to-2 in favor of bastardizing the city’s land use plan.login to post comments | Cal Beverly's blog
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