Haddix: 4 council members flip-flopping on Hwy. 54
My thanks to the members of the Needs Assessment Committee for their work. They did an excellent job putting together a statistically significant survey. The results conform to the results of One Peachtree City and both will be components of the comprehensive strategic plan I hope to move forward on next year.
In summary, using both findings, the priority of services, in order, are Police, Fire, Public Works, Recreation and Library. No cut or increase in any services are wanted. But, if a cut were needed, it should be in Recreation, which is in stark contrast to what council has been claiming.
User fees need to be raised to cover recreational costs. Tournaments, contrary to what has been claimed by some, cost the taxpayer more than they bring in. Nor is the estimated income to our businesses as much as claimed. People want more of the Recreation budget spent on family, community and similar type events.
The only acceptable tax increase was up to $50 for cart paths. That number has already been surpassed with the 137 percent stormwater increase. The proposed SPLOST is four times that amount per year.
A stunning 90 percent said no more debt increases without their permission.
Peachtree City, having seen what was accomplished by the Development Authority of Peachtree City and how it stopped when council dissolved them, says it wants them back.
On the SPLOST, staff confirmed my figure of about $15 million of city debt with payments of about $2.7 million per year for debt maintenance (for easy understanding, think of paying credit card debt monthly).
For perspective, a SPLOST income of about $6 million a year will cost the average household about $200 a year. The $2.7 million debt payment is about half that amount. We are talking a lot of tax dollars on just two items.
We have to get off of this endless cycle of increasing debt and taxes.
The Line Creek-Hwy. 54 West development is deja vu 2008 and 2009 for me. My votes against the traffic light and connection to Planterra Way are a matter of record.
At the May 9 council meeting Councilman Dienhart pointed out that in the 2009 election council members Vanessa Fleisch, Kim Learnard and Eric Imker strongly opposed the light. He lectured them on keeping promises. It was one big factor in the three getting elected.
Now they have flip-flopped and support the light and connection. The rhetoric of not wanting the light and connection but wanting to get a better development, a traffic study, etc. is just that, rhetoric. If they oppose the light and connection and were actually listening to citizens, a simple “no” would end this here and now.
Councilwoman Fleisch wants a traffic study that has already been done. In example, in 2008 we looked at four engineering studies and plans for the 54/74 intersection and other areas. They didn’t work because they destroyed three shopping centers. We looked for places to put a bypass, but there are none.
I already have gotten GDOT on board with a plan to reduce Coweta traffic coming into Peachtree City with a connection for Fischer Road to Highway 85. It is good for Peachtree City, Tyrone, Fayette, Coweta and the 74/85 intersection. It is a real plan, not a repeated study costing the city $39,000.
Councilwoman Learnard, in turn, held up Councilman Dienhart’s newspaper column from 2009 supporting the CCD development with the light. He chastised me, back then, for not supporting it. He also had an article in January of 2013 repeating the support. Now he opposes the light and connection.
On the study committee for the development itself, there is none. Only I can create a committee and I did not and will not. They can meet on their own with the developer, but not as a committee representing the city.
The last committee came back with recommendations solidly rejected by Peachtree City in 2008 and 2009. Yet, some of the council members praised their work and findings.
Councilwoman Learnard insisted the light be left on the table. She wants a “Quality Development.”
My response was quality was subjective to the individual. Also, she did not control the development or what the developer would build.
If the developer went to “Plan B,” which contains no light, connection to Planterra Way or need for a Special Use Permit, and would make him more money, it would never come before council and could not be stopped by the Planning Commission, as long as it is within ordinance.
It does not matter what Councilwoman Learnard wants if the developer cannot bring those stores here or desires to go the other direction.
She asked what I wanted there. As stated before, offices, schools, IT or some other low impact development. Something that brings better paying jobs.
As for the “Cliff,” the developer said he was not taking out any more granite after doing the front. The estimate to clear the rest of the granite is $2.5 million.
As I stated at the meeting, referencing the 2008 developer study is irrelevant. The addition of the connection to MacDuff Crossing changes everything.
On the U-turns, Councilwoman Fleisch had talked about, with the MacDuff light there is no need. People can use the MacDuff light and turn left to go west or straight across to the secondary road, then proceed to all the shopping areas.
Supposedly Publix is demanding three lights: Planterra Parkway, Line Creek and MacDuff Parkway. That is excessive when they have the right in/right out on 54 and the MacDuff light.
We do not need another traffic light on 54. Nor was there a consensus to do a traffic study for $39,000, which the city manager noted we didn’t have money to pay for anyway. The corridor from Flat Creek to MacDuff is already a traffic disaster during rush hour. A new study isn’t going to provide anything not already seen and rejected or anything we do not already know.
The bottom line here is this should have ended before it began. Councilwoman Learnard meeting with the developer is responsible for us being at this point. The three council members are playing word games that are fooling no one. Promises made are not being promises kept.
Don Haddix, mayor
Peachtree City, Ga.