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PTC deadlocks on appeal to sack new 54W light

In a bid to keep the afternoon traffic logjam on Ga. Highway 54 West in Peachtree City from getting worse, City Councilman George Dienhart made a bold proposal at Thursday night’s council meeting, though it ultimately got caught in a 2-2 gridlock of its own.

Dienhart suggested petitioning the Georgia Department of Transportation to eliminate an existing median cut on the road at the intersection of Line Creek Drive, which in turn would sack the need for a sixth stop light on that 1.5 mile stretch of road between Hwy. 74 and the county line.

The traffic light is coveted by the developer of The Overlook shopping center, which has begun with a RaceTrac gas station directly off the highway next to a proposed Chick-fil-A restaurant.

Dienhart argued that the City Council owed it to citizens to prevent traffic from getting even worse with the addition of a sixth traffic light in the area. Dienhart said he has gotten a significant amount of constituent feedback on the matter and he felt it was time for council to take a stand.

“We must take into account what is best for this city,” Dienhart said. “Worsening the city’s primary traffic chokepoint is not best for business or residents.”

While Mayor Don Haddix agreed, the matter fell into a deadlock with Council Members Kim Learnard and Eric Imker favoring a “wait and see” approach with a potential new development plan for The Overlook.

Learnard said she preferred to work with the developer since residents were upset with the current approved plan for the shopping center. Imker said he wanted to avoid getting the city into a lawsuit, despite legal advice from City Attorney Ted Meeker that indicated the city could not be held liable for what would, ultimately, be the decision of the Georgia DOT.

Councilwoman Vanessa Fleisch was out of town due to a death in her husband’s family, and Dienhart said he intended to bring the matter back up at another council meeting in the hopes of getting her opinion on the matter.

Haddix noted that while several years ago DOT approved a permit to allow the traffic light for Line Creek Drive, DOT later withdrew it as the original proposal for a shopping center on the site failed.
Learnard said she agreed council needed to protect its citizens, but she feels the best way is to find common ground with the developer, Trinity Development.

Imker said he felt a future city council could decide to favor the median cut, and he felt it was best to vet the developer’s latest proposal, “and we can make a decision at that time.” Imker added that he felt the city could be held liable in court for potentially reducing the developer’s “revenue by curtailing traffic flow.”

Learnard and Imker said they did not like the possibility of a road connection linking The Overlook to Planterra Way, but they stopped short of saying they would completely toss out the idea, for now at least. Dienhart and Haddix favor putting a halt to that road connection.

Residents in the Planterra Ridge and Cardiff Park subdivisions have argued that the road connection to Planterra Way would subject their neighborhoods to even more cut-through traffic.

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<cite><strong>Don Haddix
Peachtree City Mayor</strong></cite>

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