‘Desperately need road from MacDuff to Hwy. 74’

Tue, 11/01/2005 - 6:29pm
By: Letters to the ...

Recently there have been several attempts by my political opposition to misinterpret my position on annexation.

The term “annexation” became a four-letter word in Peachtree City around 10 years ago as a sole large development company began extending its reach by using annexation.

In the late 1990s the city established a moratorium on annexation. However, the moratorium was merely a veil and was lifted on occasions whenever the large development company requested annexation. In fact, the moratorium really acted like a hedge for the sole developer against competition for future development in the city.

Back in 2001, my platform position for elected office was that annexation was most often used as a tool to benefit the developer. In order for annexation to work, it must provide a substantial benefit to the city.

I had proposed during my campaign to facilitate annexation requests via a referendum. However, two city attorneys have made it clear that such a method was contrary to state law and would require significant changes through the legislature that would not happen soon due to a lack of support.

We must use great caution with handling annexation proposals for the western side of our city. In the last four years, our City Council has not annexed a single square inch of property into our city.

In fact, we have rejected every request to rezone property within our city limits to a residential zoning with the exception of one parcel that allowed for five additional homes.

In the last four years, our City Council has expanded our total housing capacity in the city by only a mere five houses (the lowest rate in city history). This has allowed our infrastructure to catch up with our current standards.

Our council has produced the following measures to ensure an appropriate and open discussion on determining whether an annexation proposal furthers the city’s best interest:

• Helped push House Bill 709 through the state legislature that implemented the toughest restrictions on annexation in state’s history and mandates communication between cities and counties on such issues. County governments can now file land use objections to annexation requests and mediation can be sought out.

• Created an ordinance that creates a phased procedure for analyzing annexation requests and allowing for more public input (place the lion’s share of the work on the developer to produce a better plan at the start). If a proposed plan is deemed to have no merit, council votes it down and the city staff is never involved.

• Created an Educational Impact Statement for every rezoning and annexation request to measure the development’s impact in order to protect our schools. Proposals that show a negative impact to our schools are rejected.

• Created a new ordinance to protect subdivisions adjacent to new developments that allows them more time to review the plans and offer their input.

I vocally opposed the annexation proposal for the Westside presented by the previous administration in 2000. The proposal called for the annexation of 960 acres and called for the addition of nearly 1,800 single family homes.

That specific proposal would have created the need for two new additional schools to be built and would have created significant drive-time traffic.

The annexation proposal that our City Council is looking at currently brings in only 350 acres and 350 houses. I am looking to mandate that 140 of the houses be specifically for senior housing. Thus, only 210 houses would be placing children in the schools and affecting our drive-time traffic, drastically reducing the impact from the previous 2000 proposal by 1,590 single family homes.

The following is the rational for considering a discussion related to annexation on the Westside:

• We desperately need a connection road from MacDuff Parkway to Ga. Highway 74. The developer is willing to pay for the nearly $5 million road so that we do not have to raise taxes. The thousands of citizens that reside on the Westside have only one way in or out of the subdivisions: get on Ga. Highway 54 West.

We do not want them on Hwy. 54 West as that corridor will experience significant traffic in the future from the tremendous growth taking place in East Coweta County.

• Both our police chief and fire chief have stated that the extension road to MacDuff Parkway would greatly improve emergency response to the existing citizens living on the Westside.

• An elementary school site was donated on MacDuff Parkway but cannot be built because of the poor road access. The extension road would allow the Board of Education to build on that site which, in turn, could greatly reduce the need for drastic shifts with school redistricting in the city at the elementary level. We would actually be creating school capacity.

• The new road would relieve the pressure on the hwys. 74/54 intersection. The implementation of improvements to this intersection was not included in the SPLOST package. Any way to take cars out of that intersection is a good thing.

• By mandating 140 senior houses, the burden on the schools is greatly reduced and the seniors do not drive during the busy drive-time hours, especially in the morning.

Three of my opponents have stated they want to annex the entire 960 acres and do not want to place limitations on the housing density. This would be catastrophic to us all.

We must use an intelligent, measured strategy when looking at annexation so that the city wins. If the developer refuses to cooperate, we should reject the proposal.

Steve Brown, mayor
MayorSteveBrown (at) hotmail.com
Peachtree City, Ga.

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birdman's picture
Submitted by birdman on Wed, 11/02/2005 - 3:42pm.

Brown is right, he did promise to put all annexation to a vote. However as he states, that is in violation of state law. Problem is that a former member of the city council had clearly told Brown well prior to the 2001 election of this fact. And if that isn't enough, he claimed in 2001 to have taken numerous courses on public administration etc. and claimed an "expertise" on these matters. How could he have missed this fundamental aspect of state law? Did he sleep throught the annexation lecture? How did he allow such a glaring error in his campaign? Obviously he knew how it would bring in the votes. And as he is now doing, he can simply plead ignorance of the facts. But regardless, he personally approached Wieland Homes to negotiate an annexation package during an annexation moratorium, and tried to keep it quiet! When confronted at a City Council meeting he simply claimed he was negotiating as "citizen Brown," not "mayor Brown." Anyone out there think Wieland recognized the difference? So if Brown will lie about annexation, as his actions and claims clearly show he will, what else will he lie about? Think about that when you vote. Only question is, why does Cal now support the "Annexation Mayor?"

Submitted by Fred Cowan on Wed, 11/02/2005 - 3:48pm.

Please back away from the computer...keep your hands where we can see them...slowly, slowly...reach down on the table for the prescription bottle...take your medication...now put your hands behind your head...you have the right to remain silent, please use it.

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