Haddix details his positions versus other candidates for PTC mayor

Tue, 08/25/2009 - 3:53pm
By: Letters to the ...

The 2009 election cycle is again moving forward. The qualifying period is next week, so we will shortly know all running for all offices.

As regards my run for mayor, state law mandates when I qualify my Post 1 seat is automatically vacated. So, until a replacement is elected by the voters there will only be four on Council, the majority of three plus Doug Sturbaum. So, on those contentious votes it will be 3-1 instead of 3-2.

Somehow the idea has gotten out to some we are just in the process of annexing the Scarbrough property. That is false, it was annexed in 2007. The Step 1 we recently voted on reduced the size of the annexation by 10 feet off the Tyrone side. If we had denied it, the extra land would have remained part of the property and it would still already be annexed.

The issue of unity is popping up again. We heard it in 2005 from the current majority. What that turned out to mean was defined on the dais during a council meeting when the majority criticized the minority. Plainly stated, it was we needed to forget our campaign promises, what was said during the election, and get behind, support and promote the majority position.

That is not unity, it is capitulation. On issues like building big boxes and retail space you either support building them or you don’t. I don’t support building big boxes at all or enabling more retail space to be built when we have a glut now.

In my last letter to the editor I stated Scott Rowland had yet to take any positions, thus was an unknown. That has not changed, but I will add he has a full-time job so he simply does not have the time to meet the demands of the office of mayor.

Mayors Lenox and Brown tried to fill both hats at the same time and ended up either taking a leave of absence or quitting their jobs. Logsdon has said the time demand was much greater than he anticipated and Plunkett says she will leave her job because of this reality. I am retired and an empty nester, which Plunkett is not.

I also stated Cyndi Plunkett would have to try to explain her voting record. In a Fayette Neighbor July 9th news article it says, “Ms. Plunkett said she would like to see several focus groups working together to ensure that Peachtree City continues as a planned community, something they are often criticized for.”

Such groups are appointed by the mayor. As we have seen these groups normally have a majority that agrees with the mayor and are held up as representing the will of all of Peachtree City.

Do you want such groups speaking for all of Peachtree City as regards taxes, village concept and developments? Or, do you want to be consulted directly and then have your mayor make a decision he or she will stand behind as their own?

Further, there has been a lot of criticism of Plunkett for deviating from the Peachtree City plan and vision. I believe her words confirm that reality by her saying, “It’s real nice to be able to say ‘No, that doesn’t work here because it doesn’t fit our vision,’ but it’s probably time to look at the vision and see where we want to be, and how do we keep the things we have,” said Ms. Plunkett. “The Village Plan concept — that’s great — but how do we continue it and make sure its viable?

Where has that been said to her? In the proposals to build big boxes in an oversized shopping center and her attempts at negotiating a Callula Hills plan she finds acceptable, as two examples.

Clearly Cyndi Plunkett is doing more than looking at the village concept and comprehensive land use plans, she is rewriting them.

If anyone doubts that look at her history on council. Plunkett took office in 2006 and CCD started talking about the Ga. Highway 54 West commercial development.

A task force, which included the developer, was formed for the development and council added the special use permit to the big box ordinance to enable big box construction that otherwise was not allowed.

In 2007 CCD applied for a light and asked for the Line Creek streets to be abandoned to further enable a big box development.

The abandonment was approved in 2008 by a 3-2 vote (Plunkett, Boone and Logsdon for, Sturbaum and myself opposed). Then the special use permit was approved on the same 3-2 split.

Next the light application was approved in 2009, once again 3-2. Now add in the lifting of the Multi-family moratorium and extra height to the Hilton on the same vote split again.

It is obvious the village concept as seen by the majority of citizens of Peachtree City is not Plunkett’s village concept. It sure does not fit the accepted definition of village concept.

As well, I have posted on donhaddix.com the research findings from cities, states and universities across the nation that show big boxes and super super shopping centers, meaning over 150,000 square feet, have greater total infrastructure and service cost than income to a city. They increase crime and traffic as well.

Stores less than 32,000 square feet are the money-makers for a city with the smaller ones generating the most. Shopping centers less than 150,000 square feet generate more as well.

Many cities are banning these big boxes and shopping centers and tearing down what they have and redeveloping them. Plunkett rejects these studies.

Plunkett has proudly stated she has negotiated better developments on issues appearing before council for things like big boxes, extra size, extra height and so forth.

The problem is those issues appear before council because they cannot be built unless given permission by council.

If unwanted, you just vote no, you do not give the developer even more in trade for something that should have always been a standard development demand.

In that area I have pushed for changes in the ordinances to require developments meet certain standards that should be the norm for Peachtree City. I have succeeded in getting the transition yard ordinance in place, which increases the demands for berms, setbacks, and screening landscaping, in example, between homes and offices, commercial and industrial. In work are increases in those areas between street and developments, including buildings being deeper into the sites.

While in the area of green, I also have in work ordinances to require developers be ready to build before breaking ground, keep sites clean if there are delays in construction and restore them to green if the development is abandoned after ground is broken.

Clearly, Cyndi Plunkett supports big box and big shopping center construction.

On budget issues in another article, Plunkett called fire and police “amenities.” Then she lumped them in with recreation and said we need to protect our amenities, with recreation topping her list.

For me, fire and police are essential services, and recreation is an amenity.

Essential services do not get cut; amenities can if absolutely needed to be, just like a pool is nice at home but food, shelter and clothing come first.

Does that mean I want to reduce or am against recreation as has been claimed to a number of people? Absolutely not! As I have demonstrated I have worked to run it more efficiently and cost effectively by pushing to move to a better management structure at The Fred, Tennis Center and Kedron complex. Those savings total almost a million dollars a year.

As well, I back the field sports. The Little League All Stars pin is on my GMA lanyard and I have had my sunburn from watching games.

I have found and pushed for changes in hotel/motel tax usage that would allow about $250,000 more into the general fund plus more flexibility with the rest.

Plunkett also voted for rolling the dice on a third attempt to repair the police station. I voted against it. That cost millions to return it to size that was already known to be too small. Now it will cost a few million more to enlarge it if it does not fail again.

Between those costs and alternative uses for or selling the existing site, we would have been well on our way to a new station that would have been large enough to house Code Enforcement as well, which would have taken some space pressures off of City Hall.

We are no longer a young and rapidly growing community. We are at build-out with increasing infrastructure and service costs due to age and increasing crime, fire and EMS calls.

The days of the big impact and other development fees rolling in with low maintenance costs are over, as our Finance Department has repeatedly stated. We have to realign our priorities to meet and satisfy changing needs and realities.

So who decides budget issues is critical, especially with the potential loss of over $3 million a year in SPLOST money.

If the SPLOST is defeated, as mayor, I will ask the citizens what they want to do. Would it be a 1.5 mill increase in property tax next year if we don’t get the .255 this year or 1.25 if we do get it to only do path and street maintenance? Or would it be stopping golf cart path and road maintenance until the economy turns around?

What would Plunkett do?

In addition I took the Development Authority off the shelf, re-tasked it and got it moving forward. Now it is pursuing recruitment and improvements for Peachtree City that they can do by law, but City Hall cannot. They are working hard on recruiting good employers, schools and filling empty stores.

These are rough times and this election will set the future direction of Peachtree City. Peachtree City needs a mayor and council that listens to the citizens, is open and honest in return and dedicated to efficient budget management while protecting the comprehensive plan, land use plan and village concept. I believe in the last two years I have proven I meet this criterion. Cyndi Plunkett cannot make the same claim.

Please feel free to contact me for meetings, questions and more.

Don Haddix

Candidate for mayor


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