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TV/movie studio rezoning approved

In a decision likely to change the fabric of Fayette County's future, the county commission Thursday night approved a rezoning that will allow a television and movie studio to be built on a large tract of farmland in the rural center of the county.

Pinewood Studios plans to make a home on a 288-acre site at the intersection of Sandy Creek Road and Veterans Parkway (also formerly known as the West Fayetteville Bypass).

Construction can begin as early as next month as the company hopes to be up and running by January 2014 in an effort that will bring thousands of jobs to Fayette County in addition to millions of dollars of tax revenue. The developers who are in charge of building the campus have pledged to maintain the rural character of the area.

The buildings will be set several football fields away from the roads and there will be parking spaces for 283 cars along with overflow parking.

The parcel, which is directly across from Rivers Elementary School, was actually used the past week to film a pilot for a TV show on the ABC network as the production used the rural, undeveloped character of the site with about 300 people on site to shoot what will be edited down to about 20 minutes of airtime.



in Fayette County History".

Out of the mouths of politicians.

Even though all five of our injudicious county commissioners opposed the West Fayetteville By-Pass, they had the good sense to approve Pinewood's rezoning request. They will doubtlessly develop amnesia about their vociferous rejection of the "road to nowhere," but at least they avoided allowing their past short-sightedness to deter a progressive boon to the county.

Could you or can you explain how the bypass landed us the studio? I really don't see how the road in its completed form would add any significant benefit to the studio. It ends in the middle of nowhere. It essentially connects to nothing as far as bringing people in from the interstate.

I am happy to be wrong and would love it if this road actually had a purpose.

Now, concerning the commissioners who campaigned so heavily against it but then voted for it... doesn't look good.

NUK_1's picture

I think it's more along the lines of making the very best out of a really bad situation.

Let's be real here: Pinewood wasn't going to build anything where no road previously existed. FC did all the dirty work by creating the WFB and taking land to make that road that Pinewood now wants to build upon. Sounds good to me, but the past FC commissioners had no idea that this was going to happen when they did the WFB. They were thinking there would be a lot of homes suddenly built, not a movie studio coming in and making them look like geniuses instead of the boneheads they were.

The present bunch of commissioners whined a lot before getting into office and now have to back up all of their gripes with action instead of being outsiders still throwing rocks. That includes honoring contracts already in place and in motion.

Steve Brown failed miserably at this once getting elected as Mayor of PTC as he was obsessed and frankly acting like a kook trying to settle old scores instead of govern. I trust this present group to be more mature, though they have started out rather auspiciously. As long as they stop trusting Brown on everything and Barlow keeps his fundie-crap on mute, they have a real chance to get positive things done.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

before the WFB was created - at least for the studio project. They have a driveway off of a road that connects to Hwy. 54. That's all they needed.

Ditto on Brown and Barlow. They stand head and shoulders above PTC City Council in terms of decorum and maturity, so far.

Live free or die!

Pinewood will have some employees, but remember that they make money by leasing the studios to others. So, while this is good for the local retailers, restaurants, hotels, and rental homes, quite a few of the people employed will probably be short term contract employees.

I would also assume that not to many folks will be fond of getting on the road one day finding one of these liberal transient workers smoking a joint as they are driving down the road. But perhaps our sheriff can benefit financially from these arrests.

While I doubt that the schools will be greatly affected by a lot of new families, I would bet that we will see an increase in rental properties throughout the county. That is unless we can build them a commune close by and keep them all together, lol

While the decorum on Commission is much better than PTC City Council, I am not so sure that we have the right people in place with the exception of Mr. Oddo. All the others seem to have disregarded their campaign promises, some in as little as 3 months time. What happened to the big bad WFB and the promise to preserve the county's rural character and adherence to the approved land use plan?

How will the county be affected should Fayetteville annex this land?

I guess we will have to wait 2-3 years to see the real impact.

PTC Observer's picture

Underestimating the impact of this I believe. If the pipeline of movie projects are continuous we will have plenty of full timers here in our community. Like I said earlier it will have a profound impact on PTC and Fayette.

I will remind you that Delta leases jets but they keep them pretty full, what has Delta done to fuel growth in Atlanta and PTC?

I know nothing of movie productions. I'm sure that Pinewood would try to keep the stages leased full time. I don't see the comparison with a leased jet. Please explain.

One would expect each movie production crew to bring most of their top people with them and utilize locals as needed, as they shoot movies and move to the next project. These production companies make more money if they can cram a lot of work into a short time span (Productivity). Even the television shows only shoot film a few months out of the year.

Can anyone tell us if the Diva show or the filming in Senoia keep people employed year round? I have a relative located in Wilmington NC that is in the entertainment production business. He seems to work off and on throughout the year and does not have steady paycheck.

I do want this to work out for the county. However the skeptic in me still has a lot of questions.

PTC Observer's picture

analogy, simply means that you don't have to actually own the property that is used to make an economic impact. The movie production at Pinewood and its impact on the area will be enormous. Support businesses like props, lighting, caterers and carpenters, just to name a few, will spring up around the studios. You simply need to look at Hollywood as the example, there are all sort of support businesses. Those businesses will employ thousands of people. If Pinewood can keep their production pipeline filled, like Delta keeps its Jets filled, there will be a sea change in Fayette.

The Diva production is seasonal, you are correct, but Pinewood can't make money on seasonal productions alone. They will need full utilization of their assets in order to make a return on their investment. Thus, I believe that they wouldn't be building it if they didn't think they could keep the pipeline filled.

We'll see I suppose.

The calculations through the first five years project the potential for $97 million in construction and $95 million in operations costs. The key word is potential. I would guess that that was the high side spun by the development people.

The $95M in operations is what should be the long term effect. But that's just $20M/yr. The question is, how much of that will go to the county and how much will actually will stay in FC? $20M/yr is nothing to sneeze at but it is also not the cats meow. What has been the impact of EUE/Screen Gems in Atlanta?

I also question the type of people it will bring to our conservative community.

The 'stars' very seldom live or socialize near a studio. The people who will/ may choose to live close to their job are the secretaries, carpenters, electricians, etc., etc., etc. They will not be looking for nightclubs, etc., - but more than likely good schools, clean shopping centers, and safe neighborhoods for their families. . . .and as quiet as it's kept, not everyone in Hollywood is "liberal'. :-)

Don't you remember Mr. Barlow embarrassing episode grilling the former school board chairman about his religious beliefs? You know, liberals. Those pot smoking, long haired group that could distroy Mr. Barlows conservative community.

Perhaps you don't remember about the actor who recently was arrested for a DUI. Or Jose, who posted a few weeks ago about the crews propensity to smoke pot at one of the local productions. Do you want them on the road while you are driving David around town? My guess is that the sheriff is studying up on forfeiture laws, lol.

Take this as tongue in cheek. I am just pointing out possibilities.

The key to me is how much money this actually stays in the county. To me, this is really not known. In addition, what other impacts will result. Those studios are just big airline hangers. That's goin to fit right in with the rural surroundings.

4 of the 5 commissioners all reneged on their platforms in one way or another. Two within 3 months of taking office and all in lock step without concerns. What does that say about their promises?

suggarfoot's picture

I've lived in LA and known a few. With the exception of being artistist and very creative, they are just like anyone else. As far as sitting on the set and smoking pot all day, that isn't going to happen. The producers will never let that happen. The equipment is expensive and producers and directors reputations are on the line. Bad publicity and their careers dry up. Also, each movie has to be insured. If the actors have a reputation for drugs...the insurance is higher, so it is a no brainer that everything will be handled in a profesional manor. It takes these people years to get into their guild. They can't get work without being in the guild. It is a very valued thing and they will do nothing to jeopardize that. No guild membership, no career.

They are a lot of fun, and the movie sets are too. I'm really looking forward to them comming to town.

S. Lindsey's picture

... we need revenue. Period. More Industry/Business = more taxes...

More Employed people actors or not = money spent = more taxes.

It really is a simple formula.

The fact that we might just get a little use out of the Road to Nowhere is just a little gravy on the taters.

"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."

-Ayn Rand

suggarfoot's picture

And believe me....they have the big bucks and don't mind spending them. This can only add to the area. It is gonna be wonderful.

Cyclist's picture

I wonder how much money the county will generate from the infamous "rain tax" when these studios are built?

Caution - The Surgeon General has determined that constant blogging is an addiction that can cause a sedentary life style.

Not a dime, if they, like me, refuse to pay. I wrote them a letter explaining why I wasn't paying and received NO reply! I believe he current Board of Commissioners realize that the whole Stormwater Dept & following tax issuance was a mistake but have as of yet failed any action to repeal the original edict!

S. Lindsey's picture

... at least that will be my guess... Can't be putting a lot of taxes on Liberals. They whine too much.

"Whoever claims the right to redistribute the wealth produced by others is claiming the right to treat human beings as chattel."

-Ayn Rand

Gort's picture

It’ll be great, not just for jobs at the studio but for the small businesses opportunities that service the movie studio as well.

Remember: If you think Social Security and Medicare are worth saving, vote for the Democrat.

Let it begin.

Drug dealers flocked to Fayetteville and the hollowed cart paths of PTC in 2003-2004 to sell to the children of the residents in those cities. No Hollywood influence at that time located in either community. (Other than TV and cinema). Sugarfoots right,
The guys and gals who keep the industry running are on set from 4:30 am or earlier. They are good parents; care about the communities where they live; and make good neighbors. They will be happy to find intelligent, creative neighbors in FC.

mudcat's picture

With an investment like that, they are certain to have some full-time professionals working hard to bring business to Fayette County. Even if it is just a series of short term production jobs, that is a very good thing for the county.

So what we need is someone on county commission that can relate to the smarmy and superficial people who work in the motion picture industry. Who can we find that fits that bill? Smarmy, superficial, insincere, self-absorbed attention-seeker, Who indeed?

I think the county and the city of Fayetteville will be fine with the showbiz types, but seriously, if Peachtree City is going to swim with those fishes, we better be sure that the next mayor is a lot more polished than Stumpy. Harold Logsdon might be the perfect solution. Vanessa might be good at that aspect of the job as well. Bringing back the ceremonial mayor job description would be a real nice thing. I also think we should have an additional councilman and the mayor simply runs the meeting, but not having a vote.

Your kidding right? I would think you would want the next mayor to be someone who has a clue. We need big-picture thinking. There is not a mayor or a council who has achieved anything since Bob Lenox left office. There have been numerous opportunity, over the years, for this city, that have just disolved because the powers to be don't have an understanding of the value of time and money. This city has been on a slow decline for years. The other inherit problem is simply this...politicians are more concerned about carrying favor and getting re-elected. We need someone who has a clue...someone who can create added value to the pax-payer, weather it be in home values and/or quality of life.

You mean someone with intelligent! Formal or "street" doesn't matter which one.

A college degree OR better still "real" business experience managing a large number of people. Skill sets to lead by example and able to effectively communicate building a team through concensus.

Not the poser we have now!

People aren't 'managed'--people are LED!

Great people are "managed" not led. Interesting article in June 12 INC.

We have actually had some great people on council, they didn't need to be motiviated to be led.

Not trying to equate either term with current city council; at the age of 23, I was thrust into a leadership position having to be father, mother, sister and brother to 12 soldiers in an isolated situation. All I had to do was never lie to them, treat them like humans and they would gladly follow my directions. Those principles served me well for 42 yrs of federal svc. Management? I don't think so--I wouldn't reduce people to that description. Yes, it's all terminology and you can make of it what you will.

You're right; Had not one shovel of dirt been turned, that tract of land was still available. And I will repeat: An official directly involved in the negotiations told me that the Pinewood folks were impressed that from the site to the airport was only an 18 minute trip, using Sandy Creek, Hwy 74 & I-85--WFBP was never an issue. And yes, Commissioners all voted to complete Phase 2 due to possible contractual issues if they didn't. Phase 3 has been disgarded as a future project.

This is a photo of one of Pinewoods Sounstages in London. Sure hope the exterior design in FC will fit in with the rural landscape

G35 Dude's picture

[quote]This is a photo of one of Pinewoods Sounstages in London. Sure hope the exterior design in FC will fit in with the rural landscape[/quote]

You sound as though you'd prefer that Georgia Power would build a plant there laden with polluting smokestacks. That land will not stand empty forever. And we have a chance to have it be used for a high paying, non-polluting, industry that will reflect positively on Fayette County. Property values will go up and our school system will benefit from the tax dollars. Is it perfect? No, nothing ever is. But this might the best thing that could happen to us even with the few problems it could bring.

Makes sense to me! I think H & F's primary goal is to dump on the current Board of Commissioners if at all possible. I don't feel that way and will support them until I observe them do something I strongly disagree with and then I will publicly criticize.

I am pointing out that our current commission is no better or no worse than any other commission. They have walked away from their platforms rather fast too.

Tell me how is this preserving our rural character and adhering to our approved land plan?

I can agree that the studio is good for our county diversification. I do believe we are selling out to the glitz of Hollywood when this land was not zoned for this purpose.

I would argue that this was not good with any commission. In fact, I would bet the current commission would not support it either if it were proposed by the previous administration.

I could find also, good work.

I guess we will have to wait and see how the county puts lipstick on this pig in rural FC.

Of their new studio opening this year in Malaysia?

The website only shows a video of the rendering. (Which I have to admit, looks nice). I could not locate any photo links.

I think I understand your issues, they are mainly with the seeming "two faced" actions of the new Commissioners....

I hope it works out well for all, but like everything else, it probably won't be perfect...

But it seems head and shoulders over many other kinds of developments that we could have's a credit to the people of Fayette County that they would consider this for our area.

Yes, you hit the nail.

I don't remember anyone bringing this up, but perhaps commission could have persuaded Pinewood to look at the 200 + acres where Evander Holyfield used to reside. I bet the bank would be glad to get rid of the property.

We all heard our present commissioners for years cry to anyone that would listen that the road was a boondoggle and how poorly the county treated the residents who lost land. Not one of these free thinking men was quoted as having any reservations voting against their campaign platforms.

Fayette County is now on the fast track to resemble the overbuilt north side counties, and will become another Henry County (less and interstate) real soon. What happened to the promise for slow growth and to follow the long held zoning guidelines? What will the commission say when metro Atlanta people searching for jobs or tours start requesting mass transit to get to the studios? Are they going to roll over for that too?

One can easily predict that additional property owners will start requesting zoning changes to their property so that they can sell the land to business and industrial suppliers feeding the studio. This pays much better than residential developers would have paid. With the easy passing of the zoning change to some new made up General Business classification, the property owners now have a precedent in which to legally request this for themselves. There is nothing that can be done to stop a landowner from donating money to a deserving public officials campaign in order to gain their attention. Don't think this can happen?

Highway 74 and 54 and traffic in the center of the county will need to be addressed. Are we going to wait until the traffic arrives or do they address this now? Where are we going to get the money to widen these roads?

There are a whole lot of questions that haven't been addressed. What would happen should another large tax paying industry leave because they don't want to deal with the added traffic?

Our present commission is no better and no worse than others in the recent past. They just all agree with the seasoned leader and commission meetings are now one big kumbaya party with no one daring to cross the boss. I don't for one minute believe that any on the commission would have approved this so fast had the previous administration brought this to the people. They probably would have shouted from the rooftops that we are not following the land use plan and will be losing the rural nature of the county.

Robert W. Morgan's picture

You called it - good quote "They probably would have shouted from the rooftops that we are not following the land use plan and will be losing the rural nature of the county."

But they were all surprised by the positive press coverage and the enormity of the project and had to support and even pretend they were part of it. You notice that Pace and Foley went to London using private money and the Chamber of Commerce that Steve Brown hates so much played a huge role in all this. And I marvel that all this was going on at about the same time as the recent election and somehow it was kept quietly away from the politicians - although I have been told Frady knew about it.

Economic Development people usually seek out the grownups in the community to assist with recruiting businesses. I mean who would you rather talk to if you were shopping for land to build a studio? Business people? Chamber President? Or would you rather meet Brown or God help us - Haddix.

Now, someone is going to start complaining about how the old time developers (Foley and Pace) are going to earn fees out of this project and how that's just not fair. This would be the first thing out of the younger Steve Brown's mouth (and was before and during his mayor gig). Let's hope the more mature Brown keeps his mouth shut and remains supportive of this very fine project.

Live free or die!

I remember the most vocal of local politicians screaming bloody murder over question of development, like the Fayetteville Bypass and Tsplost for example saying it would destroy the rural character of our county. Now those same folks, the county comissioner most notably, are all in on the Pinewood Studios. Maybe they are things they will get cameo roles in up coming prodcutions ? Wink. Nod. Wink. Nod.

Now all of the sudden, as noted in the citizen last week, the road to nowhere, which is exactly what a bypass should be, goes some where. I can't wait to see how they manage building the 3rd phase now.

I am thinking folks like mayor Steele jaw dropped open flies going in and out by this turn of events and the actions of the commission.

But not really. Why? Only the most feeble minded people could have been fooled by the rhetoric throwing about buy the self focused, glory seeking crowd now in office.

Don't get me wrong. I think that they did the right thing.

Now leadership in office is critical. Lets not be naive, these coming coming in will have big moeny and glamour on their side.

Let n ot forget our pasteral roots and manage any coming growth to be consistent with the traditional values and character of the county.

This is a rare abeautiful opportunity to make some thing notable and important in our area.

Lets adopt the high standards that will call out to all that visit from far and wide. Fayette county is synonomous with excellence in all facets of life, Today, Tomorrow and the next day.....

Lets not let the new interlopers and thier big wallets pollute the area.

It should instead be a marriage of equals. After all, they will havesurveyed far and wide prior to choosing this location. The prestige that we provide as a community only serves to make thier situation better and stronger. So let not sell outselves short.


Here is some information taken directly from a commissioners website.

1. Preserve Fayette County's rural character

2. Fayette County has a comprehensive land use plan and we need to follow it, period.

3. We are a slow growth, low housing density county and it works. We intend to keep it that way.

4. Preserve Fayette County's rural character; closely adhere to our approved land use plan and reject increases in residential unit density

5. Require developers and builders to submit Educational Impact Statements on all re-zoning requests to protect our schools from overcrowding and school districts from shifting

We took one of the nicest rural areas in metro Atlanta and we are moving towards looking like Henry County. Not convinced that this is the golden goose.

However, on the bright side, we can all become paparazzi when the stars show up, lol

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