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Get Fayette out of ARC, or ARC out of Fayette

On March 3, 2011, Commissioner Steve Brown addressed the Fayette County commissioners. He attempted to fulfill his campaign promise of fighting mass transit by proposing a resolution to ban mass transit projects in Fayette County.

He eloquently showed how the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is trying to network mass transit and development throughout greater Atlanta. He focused upon our low population density and quality of life as distinguishing factors unique to Fayette County.

Fayette County makes up only about 2 percent of the ARC population, yet we could well be bound by the same transportation management as other metro counties and by ARC transportation projects we don’t want or need.

All our ARC representatives have voted for a mass transit plan that includes Fayette County. Yet, they tell us we’ll never have it.

The BOC after hearing the presentation voted 3 to 2 to disapprove Brown’s resolution. Then, half the audience left the building in disgust.

The ARC had earlier hired a consultant to prepare the Fayette County Land Use/Transportation Plan. They paid 80 percent of the cost. The study didn’t show an impending need for the West Bypass.

The commissioners will not publicly discuss how that road follows a logical alignment or how it appreciably reduces traffic in Fayetteville. They literally forced it upon the voters, disguised as “road, street and bridge purposes” in the 2004 SPLOST.

Nobody outside the county government has ever supported the West Bypass, and no public comments or articles from the public have been positive. All publicity is overwhelmingly negative.

If the metro area votes in favor of the 2012 Transportation Sales Tax Referendum we must accept whatever projects are regionally voted in, even if Fayette County votes against the referendum.

According to the last commissioners’ election returns, the majority of voters showed that they were unhappy with the West Bypass and mass transit issues by voting in Brown and McCarty.

My own opinion is that the ARC has already influenced our county government. That’s why we aren’t seeing the three holdover commissioners making any waves or taking issue with ARC.

It’s like having a three-member BOC when the other two members try to stand up for the people who elected them, only to get outvoted by the holdovers who are inflexibly loyal to the ARC, yet paid by us.

I read in a March 3 Fayette newspaper that former Fayette Commission Chairman Jack Smith was honored by the Civic League for Regional Atlanta. The article stated that he is “a regional leader.” They also made the astute observation that “Smith’s political actions may have cost him his political office.”

Mr. Smith was presented with a Regional Excellence and Founders award. According to the article, the award is given to individuals and groups who go beyond their local, personal, and professional interests to make the larger regional community a better place to live. The award was presented by ARC Chairman Tad Leithead.

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, himself a former ARC Chairman, also publicly praised and thanked Mr. Smith, no doubt for a job well done. Yes, what’s been done indeed goes beyond local duties.

But judging from the election results, Mr. Smith’s constituents don’t look upon him the same way that the ARC does. What the remaining commissioners from his watch have shown us is that they are beating the same drum, and they refuse to listen to their constituents any more than their predecessors did.

Should there ever be a statue erected to a 2010 Fayette commissioner, it won’t be in Fayette County.

Steve Smithfield

Fayette County, Ga.

Location: 

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