Answers from Les Dyer, candidate for Post 4, Peachtree City

Tue, 10/27/2009 - 5:35pm
By: Les Dyer

Questions for Peachtree City candidates

1. Based on current zoning, there are roughly 1,400 more homes to be built before running out of virgin residential-zoned space. Do you see any need for the city to expand its borders through annexation for any zoning category? Why or why not? Please explain what type of development — if any — the city needs more of, how it will be paid for and where you think such annexation makes the most sense.

2. Do you support the rezoning of industrial-zoned property to any residential use? Also tell us specifically whether you support or oppose the Callula Hill project that would convert land in the city’s industrial park into an upscale “lake view” subdivision, and if so, tell us why or why not. Also, spell out whether this proposal does or does not represent spot zoning.

3. This has been one of the most painful budget years in the city’s history. Grade the City Council on personnel cutbacks and how it handled the funding shortfall. Explain exactly what you would have done differently.

4. If the city had to cut another $1 million out of the coming year’s budget, what specific actions would you take to balance the budget?

5. Under what conditions — if any — would you support an increase in the city property tax?

6. What is your opinion about Peachtree City selling city streets to a developer so as to enable a much larger shopping center to be built on Ga. Highway 54 West?

7. What will you vote to do to insure that the city’s existing village centers remain economically viable?

8. Will you vote for or against the countywide SPLOST renewal? Why or why not?

9. Describe your general political philosophy, particularly regarding local government.

Answers from Les Dyer, candidate for Post 4

1. The city does not currently “need” to expand its borders. What it does need is to attract quality business and industry to fill its vacant retail and industrial space and to utilize the existing “fill-in” acreage that still exists throughout the city, such as the roughly 37 acres (outside the Callula Hill/airport area) owned by Pathways.

Given that, any further request or proposal for annexation should be considered as a separate entity and thoroughly examined on its own merits. It is not outside the realm of possibility that a future plan for the city to annex a yet unidentified plot might fall within the needs and best interests of the citizens and our land use plan.

2. Callula Hill is spot zoning and would create a ”land-locked” subdivision within the city limits. Based on the information of which I am aware, we should be most concerned with the nuisance and safety issues related with residential property built underneath the “fan” safety zone which the FAA recommends as a buffer off the ends of active runways.

Make no mistake that our airport will become more active as the airport authority aggressively markets a great opportunity for growth at Falcon Field. I would not support any zoning that would negatively affect airport growth.

“Do you support the rezoning of industrial-zoned property to any residential use?” Generally no but a poorly phrased question when never, any, always are tossed about. Requests for rezoning need to be considered long and hard but individually and on their own merits. Studying our current zoning map, I don’t see it happening but, if elected, I will attempt to give every request to the council a studied, common sense look before stating unequivocally that this is an always or never issue.

3. Award the council (all five and regardless of their individual votes),a B for making some gut-wrenching decisions. City staff gets the A for their really tough work in coming up with the methods used to save dollars across the board. Excepting Public Safety, I would have preferred to see the personnel cutbacks spread more evenly among the various city departments and more in line with their percentage of the total budget pie.

4. Initially I would request a further budget examination from ALL departments and request an impact statement on a further 5 percent reduction in administrative costs. After totaling the savings possible there, I would again ask all departments (this time excepting Public Safety), for that same impact statement with regards to a RIF covering an incremental number of that staff’s personnel.

I envision the scenario at the department level as, “Mr. Smith, detail the effect of a RIF in your department of one individual and expand your comments to include reductions of two, three, four and five personnel.”

5. Here we go again with the “any.” I am AGAINST tax increases! In particular, our federal system is an absolute travesty. Realistically, escaping tax increases at the local level may not be possible. When Les Dyer is convinced (and I do not yet have the information that will allow me to make that determination) then I expect to fall squarely on the side of those taxes that, at least, allow the taxee some small measure of choice in paying them. That is why I will vote for the continuation of the SPLOST on the Nov. 3 ballot. (See question #8 which is answered here). Its small saving grace is that it is a “use tax.” The individual has a limited choice in doling out his hard-earned dollars within the confines of the county, whereas he has none when millage rates/property taxes increase.

6. You’ve mixed two questions that are not inextricably bound. To my knowledge the city owns but one strip of retail pavement and that is adjacent to McDonald’s in the Peachtree Crossing Shopping Center. Not owning those pieces of concrete and asphalt SAVES the city money by freeing us from the cost of maintaining same.

As to part two of the question, despite complete misrepresentation of the facts by a couple of individuals, I do not favor further Big Box expansion. The quote from my campaign website and in place since announcing my candidacy in July states: “Big Box and Retail Development — growth and continued retail expansion are indicators of a robust and healthy community. That said, I would far prefer that we fill our empty retail space before considering any further new growth. (Emphasis added; further retail growth of any sort, not just the big box type). I don’t consider big box retailers to be evil blighters, and our existing establishments have brought us convenience and tax monies, albeit at the price of some congestion. I believe that carefully regulated growth, while adhering closely to our Village Concept, would best serve the needs of the greatest number of our citizens.” Why would my refusal to label developers as evil blighters constitute an endorsement of further big boxes? You decide.

7. My voting will be done, on a case by case basis, to support an agenda which will encourage the migration of “quality” business into our empty retail space in our existing village centers and to support current retailers in a business-friendly environment. That includes redevelopment as currently underway in our Braelinn center and the careful consideration of incentives to encourage that migration.

8. See Question #5. In addition, as part of Fayette County we will see some $50 million in debt retired when the Justice Center is paid down and find a way to fund the roughly $1.5 million a year needed in our budget to pay for repair and maintenance of our road and cart system. If we don’t see passage of the SPLOST, I predict a tax increase OR we can let our infrastructure decay; a plan that always leads to higher costs when replacement versus maintenance becomes necessary.

9. Conservative, Republican, non-partisan local government. Our, generally, two-party partisan political system has no place on the local level. Howsoever, my conservative outlook will, no doubt, color my leanings on the local level. Smaller, less intrusive government, lower taxes and fiscally conservative monetary policy are agendas I promote but I will refuse to be corralled in any premeasured container. I will do my level best to consider every item of business to come before the council, in the next four years, as a separate piece of business, considered on its own merits and judged in the light of what is best for our city.

I restate my admiration for all current council members and all those who have qualified for the upcoming election. They have accepted a thankless task and, despite not agreeing with every stance taken, they are worthy of a heartfelt salute. I hope to exert my influence through qualities of leadership and common sense to move others on the council to support positions on which my feelings are strong.

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