Builder wants officials arrested

Fri, 10/16/2009 - 3:10pm
By: John Munford

PTC Council denies variance, meaning house addition must be demolished; builder alleges ‘good old boy decision’

Local builder John Cox may well be the most dissatisfied person to leave a Peachtree City Council meeting, at least in recent memory.

Cox, after arguing the addition he built to a Braelinn Village home did not violate rear setback rules, didn’t hide his displeasure at Thursday night’s meeting.

Council members Cyndi Plunkett, Doug Sturbaum and Steve Boone voted 3-1 to deny the variance. Mayor Harold Logsdon opposed the denial.

Immediately after the vote, Cox asked for citations to be issued against City Attorney Ted Meeker and interim Community Development Director David Rast.

Cox claimed that Meeker and Rast altered the city code to defend the city’s stance in the variance matter. Cox contends that under the city’s GR-4 zoning for the lot, the rear setback is set at 20 feet, so his client’s home addition would not be in violation.

Meeker said a special condition attached to the Center Green subdivision when it was rezoned requires a 30-foot rear setback instead.

“It was a good old boy decision way back when,” Cox said. “Yeah it was to get the zoning but that’s all it was. It’s not a law.”

Making matters worse is that the error wasn’t discovered by city officials until construction was nearly complete.

However, a permit issued to Cox’s company has a handwritten note by a city employee with a warning that the rear setback was 30 feet.

Cox admitted he was in error for not getting a city inspection sooner and for not getting a foundation survey before building above slab level as required.

It took eight months between the city’s foundation inspection and the time he requested the last inspection that ultimately led to a stop work order being issued by the city.

With a 3-1 council vote to reject the variance, Cox will have 60 days to remove the construction that encroaches into the 30-foot rear setback of the home in the Center Green subdivision, just south of McIntosh Trail off Peachtree Parkway South. Logsdon cast the only vote in opposition to the variance denial.

When Cox inquired about the citations, Peachtree City Police Maj. Mike DuPree told Cox he would need to go to Fayette County Magistrate Court to seek a pre-issuance hearing. That process allows citizens to petition a judge to potentially sign an arrest warrant for another person or persons based on violation of Georgia law.

During the public hearing, Rast and Meeker explained that the zoning conditions were legal and enforceable. Meeker noted that the zoning setbacks and conditions were recorded as a part of the plat for the subdivision which Cox should have consulted before proceeding with the project.

Logsdon suggested the city needed to revisit setback rules to allow residents to redevelop their own homes.

“Redevelopment is a big challenge for us in older parts of the city,” Logsdon said. “The people here seem like they want to do the right thing in improving their property. If GR-4 is 20 feet everywhere else, wouldn’t it be prudent for us to change it here?”

Rast cautioned that such concepts could result in homes being built in older neighborhoods that are not in character with existing homes.

Though he left council chambers unhappy, Cox made sure he vocalized his final words loud enough for all to hear before he parted.

“Thank you,” he told council as he exited.

Cox is the husband of state Superintendent of Schools Kathy Cox.

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Submitted by ktmain02 on Mon, 10/19/2009 - 8:54pm.

Maybe if Jon was secretly putting money into “their” pockets like the other John that builds in PTC this wouldn't have been an issue.

CowetaCoy – what’s your real name and do you EVEN live in Fayette County?


Submitted by skyspy on Sun, 10/18/2009 - 7:52pm.

Is Cox a licensed builder? Was this his first construction project? The city gave him hand written instructions about the set back, but poor Johnny thought he was above the law? He can't read? Which is it?

I have no building experience yet I managed to act as my own general contractor and follow all of the city and state building codes. The city inspectors were very helpful and I used only licensed contractors.

I feel bad for the home owner who got taken.

Submitted by fssk on Sun, 10/18/2009 - 6:42pm.

Is this the same person who filled for bankrupsy? So he is upset about getting caught for not following the rules. He, At one time built many houses in fayette Co. and knows the rules about set backs and variances. I say make him tear it down. they would make me do it.

Submitted by normal on Sat, 10/17/2009 - 3:52pm.

You are an absolute idiot, Try to pull in crap maybe in Montana but not here. Glad you got nailed

Submitted by AtHomeGym on Sat, 10/17/2009 - 4:04pm.

just what does Montana have to do with any of that?

Submitted by CowetaCoy on Sat, 10/17/2009 - 2:46pm.

Sloppy business practices like this are probably part of the reason for his bankruptcy.

Submitted by Josh Wellons on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 11:08am.

If I am not mistaken, when the building permit was applied for, is it not the building departments standard to review the application and verify that what the homeowner is proposing is infact correct? Also how far over the 30' Setback is the homwowner? Is it 1' over the 30' or is it over the orignal 20' setback for his zoning? I think someone is being made an example of. Just some ?s and my .02.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 11:30am.

The 30' was stated multiple times on application forms. It is in the Plat.

The original setback was not 20', it was 30'. It still is 30'. The Plat is part of the zoning and the governing portion.

Part of the building was about 2" over. The other part was over 6'.

If the builder had followed correct procedure and gotten the inspections when required this would have been caught early. He didn't. He just built.
I have been through the process with my sunroom add. I had to change my length 2" to get within setback. But it was caught early and was cheap to fix.

The process works when the rules are followed and the forms are read.

And no. He is not being made an example of. A couple of months ago we gave someone 60 days to removed a basketball court that did not follow the rules and built in a wetlands buffer.

And several variances have been denied during the last two years. I voted against them.

Besides legal issues this would lead to changing the nature of the community, as we have seen in other cities, by seeing infill and old homes torn down and replaced with significantly larger ones.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Gene61's picture
Submitted by Gene61 on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 9:03am.

Good ole boy network in effect in Peachtree City..

If GR-4 is 20 feet everywhere else wouldn’t it be prudent for us to change it here?”

Yes, why not?

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 9:35am.

It isn't 20' everywhere else. At least 30 other developments in that class are 30'.

The State Law Cox cited pertained to HOA documentation. This was a Plat, not HOA Declaration, setting the 30'. It is binding and would require rewriting the Plat to make it 20'.

The ordinance does not say 20', it says minimum 20'. The Plat becomes part of the ordinance, along with all other Plats. So, it is legally 30' by ordinance here.

Logsdon has been trying to up density, heights and sizes in all zoning. This was especially sensitive to him and Plunkett due to John Cox's wife.

As the City Planner, Attorney, Manager and a former Mayor stated, this would be a huge mistake to grant because it would set a precedent that would totally disrupt setback standards and controls and open us to legal actions, yet again.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

della's picture
Submitted by della on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 10:38am.

Don, I'm courious about a detail. I notice the voting went 3-1 with the mayor voting. I thought the mayor only voted when there was a 2-2 tie amoung the 4 council members. Also, did you not vote because of a potential conflict or something?
Thanks in advance.

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 11:16am.

In some cities, yes, others no. Yes in Tyrone but no in PTC.

The Mayor votes on every issue here.

I am not on Council due to declaring for Mayor by State Law. My post had more than 30 days left in its term past the end of the Mayor's term, so I had to give up Post 1.

The law does not make sense but it is what it is. Instead it should mandate will be vacant upon the end of term of the seat being sought and legally open for election.

Of course those at State level are exempt form this law.

The Post will be filled upon the final election of my replacement.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

cogitoergofay's picture
Submitted by cogitoergofay on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 9:54am.

Good example of why Haddix has my vote. When I read the article, it frankly struck me as more of the same history of politics in PTC. Why would I bother to figure out all the setback issues? Arbitrary has been the name of the game for a long time. Of course Logsdon will be a supplicant to Cox. No surprise there.

And then Haddix made a succinct post that brings some light to the case.

Thank you.(Note: Please go back to posting with the prefix "Haddix:....". It was a good way of identifying your posts.)

Don Haddix's picture
Submitted by Don Haddix on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 11:18am.

I caught ego accusations for doing that before. it was always for ID.

Don Haddix
Candidate for Mayor

Mike King's picture
Submitted by Mike King on Fri, 10/16/2009 - 10:30am.

Echoing the comments of cogitoerfay, I will add that anyone in denial of just how frank, honest, and completely committed to the betterment of Peachtree City and maintaining its uniqueness, would have to have their head up their fourth point of contact or their hand in some developers pocket.

Let's elect Don Haddix as our next mayor, and not repeat the mistakes of the past.

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