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Fayette Tea Party polls members on transportation, activism

Approximately 60 people attended the Feb. 22 committee meeting of Fayette County Issues Tea Party. The meeting at the Peachtree City Library was geared to update the audience on the ongoing work of the organization’s various committees. Among the issues covered were the regional 1-cent transportation sales tax referendum coming in 2012, the West Fayetteville Bypass and the efforts of House Bill 87, the Illegal Immigration Reform and Enforcement Act of 2011.

Organization coordinator Bob Ross led much of the meeting. Addressing the upcoming 2012 vote on regional transportation projects, Ross noted the organization’s desire to defeat the proposal. Fayette is linked to the referendum with the 10-county Atlanta Regional Commission.

“We’re reaching out to other counties to defeat it. We plan to educate the voters,” Ross said, adding that transportation initiatives such as rapid rail do not pay for themselves.

A question posed by former Peachtree City Mayor Harold Logsdon asked if residents would vote the 1-cent transportation sales tax if commuter rail was taken out of the plan.

“Some people would,” Ross replied. He also noted that some of the 20,000 local people commuting to Atlanta and the airport for work might vote for the initiative.

Logsdon asked that the committee explore that alternative.

“We’ll be sending our money to (the leaders in other counties) who haven’t done a good job in land planning,” said Fayette County Commissioner Steve Brown, who added that issues such as regional government have been in the planning stages for years.

The local bottom line on transportation, said Ross, is that people can go with the flow, nominate projects that will benefit Fayette County, opt out of the transportation initiative, join another regional commission or defeat the initiative in the 2012 referendum.

On the topic of the West Fayetteville Bypass, Ross presented the current results of the organization’s ongoing survey of the issue. The survey consists of seven questions pertaining to the roadway. To date, 176 residents have responded to the survey.

Nearly 69 percent of respondents said they commute on Ga. Highway 54 or Ga. Highway 85 through downtown Fayetteville. Of that 69 percent, 8.6 percent said traffic is a major obstacle, 25.9 percent said traffic is sometimes bad but not overwhelming, 34.5 percent said traffic is not too bad and 31.9 percent said traffic conditions in Fayetteville are not a problem.

Asked if Fayette County should complete the west bypass, 85.3 percent of respondents said they opposed the project, 11.8 percent said they support it and 2.9 percent had no opinion.

Another question asked if people would use the roadway if the two remaining phases were completed. Nearly 49 percent of the respondents said no, 20.2 percent were not sure, 23.1 percent said they would probably use it occasionally and 9.2 percent said they would use the roadway daily.

A fifth question asked, “Do you believe that the project is so important, and that there is no other practical alternative, that the county is justified in evicting people from their homes to complete it?” Responses showed that 90.3 percent of people answered “no,” 5.1 percent said “yes” and 4.6 percent were not sure.

Another question asked if the respondents owned property that would be affected by the bypass, of which 83.1 percent did not while 16.9 percent did.

A final question on the survey asked if respondents follow local government activities. The responses indicated that 22.3 percent do follow those activities but not very often, 49.1 percent said they regularly follow them in newspapers and online, 18.3 percent said they follow local government activities closely and 16.6 percent said they follow them closely and maintain contact with city and county elected officials.

Another committee report, presented by organization member Denise Ognio, pertained to HB 87 sponsored by Rep. Matt Ramsey.

“We want it to pass,” Ognio said, stressing that citizen involvement is required to help ensure the bill’s passage. “We’re paying attention. We see it in the media, but we don’t make the calls to legislators.”

Also attending the meeting were Fayette County commissioners Allen McCarty, Lee Hearn and Robert Horgan.

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