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Planners question wisdom of building homes near PTC airport

Callula Hill developer sees some positives in building at Falcon Field

Phoenix Development Team made its initial pitch to the Peachtree City Planning Commission Monday night in a bid to rezone a 37-acre site from industrial use to allow 80 single-family homes and a special events center.

An earlier plan with the same name received Planning Commission approval in mid-2009 but was pulled by the developer before the City Council could act during a time of rising opposition to the proposal.

The Callula Hill tract overlooks the nearly-completed Lake McIntosh reservoir, making it ideal for a residential zoning instead of the current industrial zoning, said Phoenix President Gene Lavine.

Lavine said the proximity to Falcon Field Airport is also a big plus, as he suspects retiring Delta pilots and others will see the value in living near the airport. He also committed that if any part of the site is determined to be in the runway protection zone at Falcon Field, no buildings would be constructed in those areas.

The planning commission gave feedback to Phoenix but took no vote on the proposal. The commission is expected to weigh in at a later date with a vote of recommendation, but the final say on the rezoning rests with the city council.

Lavine said the homes would be designed for empty nesters looking to downsize, but there will be no guarantee that younger families won’t decide to purchase homes as well, Lavine said. Because of that, the subdivision will have one of its three parks serve as a bus stop under a covered pavilion.

The site plan contains three parks and a walking trail at the perimeter. The events center would have 12 overnight cottages and would host events such as weddings, parties and the like. There also would be a condition that larger parties exceeding a certain number of people will trigger a requirement for the events center to provide security and parking attendants, Lavine said.

Lavine said Phoenix wants to extend a golf cart path from the development along the new road to Lake McIntosh and then northward on Dividend Drive at their expense. He said Phoenix is also interested in taking the path south on Dividend as well toward Falcon Field and will be working with airport officials in hopes of making that happen.

Planning Commissioner Lynda Wojcik encouraged Phoenix to also extend the path along the Lake McIntosh access road all the way to the lake’s recreational area as well, and Lavine said that could be considered.

Commissioner Patrick Staples said the proximity to Falcon Field is a significant issue with the rezoning with the potential for noise disruptions, along with the fact that it would remove raw industrially zoned land from the industrial park.

As for the proximity to Falcon Field, Lavine noted that current takeoff procedures will make sure departing airplanes don’t travel directly over the subdivision. Phoenix Development will also include a deed notice about the airport’s proximity to make sure the first owner and subsequent owners are aware of the airport location, Lavine added.

Lavine noted that the city would get some $465,000 additional revenue in property taxes each year if the site is zoned and developed as residential instead of used for an industrial site.

Phoenix plans to market the homes for a range between $350,000 and $700,000.

As for the value of the industrial zoning, Lavine said the site has been zoned that way for about 30 years and there have been no takers so far. However, because the site is adjacent to industrial businesses that are already active, there is some concern about having homes near industrial companies.

David Bergman, president of NAECO, an industrial business directly across TDK Boulevard from the Callula Hill site, said he was concerned about having a number of residences so close to a six-acre tract he just bought to expand in the future.

Bergman noted that he has about $2 million invested in new equipment and building as his company continues to add jobs. Bergman said one of his main concerns was making sure residential traffic doesn’t interfere with industrial park traffic.

Lavine said traffic coming to the subdivision and events center would travel down the extended road path for TDK Boulevard to a separate entrance instead of going through the current access to the property via the Southpark industrial area.

Lavine said in addition to the lake, the adjacent Planterra Ridge Golf Club also makes the site attractive for residential development. He suggested that because of feedback from community focus groups several years ago, he thinks as many as half of the homes will be pre-sold.

Critics of the earlier version of the plan complained the rezoning would depart from the city’s land use plan, would create a residential area isolated from any other similarly zoned land in the city and was too close to busy Falcon Field.

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