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Flip-flops by Imker, Fleisch, Learnard?

What do we need more, a corporate site to provide jobs or 90 more new houses to complete with our already depleted existing home sales? We already have well over 1,000 undeveloped home sites already within our city limits.

The annexation and rezoning of the “Southern Pines Plantation” (SPP) is a perfect example of political promises gone wrong.

The City Council voted to move forward on the annexation process on July 12 instead of saying “no” to the annexation and rezoning of 77 acres south of the city, which is currently county land that is zoned commercial.

Councilwoman [Vanessa] Fleisch did not ask one question regarding the comprehensive land use plan in Peachtree City nor did she speak about the close proximity to Falcon Field.

Councilwoman [Kim] Learnard also failed to recognize that SSP violates the current comprehensive land use plan. Also, Councilman [Eric] Imker was silent during the discussion except to move to approve step one annexation request for Southern Pines tract.

The council’s exchange gave the green light to move forward to another developer to take advantage of Peachtree City’s sewer system and top notch schools, forgetting all our all-important need for land for corporate facilities.

As a voter, I’m most angry about the broken campaign promises of Fleisch, Learnard and Imker. They also seem to have forgotten this particular parcel of land is directly under the approach path to Falcon Field and could pose multiple problems, including lawsuits, for the airport which is finally standing financially on its own.

We were given some definite promises in 2009 when candidates Fleisch, Learnard, and Imker were running for elected office.

The Citizen newspaper asked: Do you support the rezoning of industrial-zoned property to any residential use?

(To be fair this question was a multiple part question with reference to the Callula Hills project, but I deem it applicable because the Southern Pines property is also close to Falcon Field and the only difference is that Callula Hills property did not need to be annexed, only rezoned from industrial to residential.)

Then-candidate Fleisch responded, “It is foolhardy for a planned community to go so far outside its land use plan to rezone industrial land into residential ... The FAA has within the past year awarded Falcon Field grants to expand its hangar apron and installed an instrument landing systems (ILS). Falcon Field is the only airport on the south side of Atlanta to have an ILS. My hope is that the airport will become a magnet for businesses and thus help our tax revenue. The current airport authority is doing a tremendous job and we need to be supporting them, not throwing obstacles in their way.”

Then-candidate Learnard responded to the same question, “I do not support rezoning of industrial zoned property to residential use ... we must focus on Falcon Field and its value to Peachtree City.”

Candidate Learnard also responds about the development of Callula Hill (which is very similar to the Southern Pines parcel): “The proposed Callula Hill project would place a residential development in close proximity to Falcon Field. This presents the likelihood of noise and nuisance complaints from any future homeowners. I do not support new development or rezoning that could ultimately compromise airport operations”

Finally, then-candidate Imker responded to the question, “Sticking to the original zoning is clearly the right thing to do. Rezoning sets precedence and begets future uncontrolled growth.”

Candidate Imker was so opposed to the rezoning that he wrote letters to the editor in March, May, and June 2009 titled (“No on Callula Development”) (“Callula Hill Rezoning is the most illogical request in memory”) and (“How will Mayor Logsdon vote when Callula Hill comes back”).

The Citizen continued: There are roughly 1,400 more homes to be built before running out of virgin residential-zoned space. Do you see any need for the city to expand its borders through annexation for any zoning category?

Fleisch answered, “After the approximately 1,400 homes are built, I do not see any reason to expand the city limits through annexation. Adding more homes would cost the city a great deal in infrastructure and services that would always be a part of our budget. Continually planning for expanding fire, police, and cart paths while annexing in more land will wreak havoc on the budgeting process.”

Fleisch continues, “We need to be focusing on the redevelopment of some of our older existing homes and structures ... My belief is that most citizens feel as I do, that we do not need to annex any more property and lose our sense of community”

Learnard responded, “I would need to see clear evidence that any annexation works to the benefit of Peachtree City citizens. Even an annexation that at first glance appears to be a cost benefit due to building permits and impact fees can end up costing a city millions of dollars over time.”

Learnard also states, “The development projects our city needs are light industrial, quality manufacturing, and corporate headquarters. These types of development projects bring good paying jobs to the city; they call for modest sized facilities and infrastructure in appropriate locations.”

Imker remarked, “Any annexation request will be reviewed in accordance with our city ordinances. I am against annexations that would involve the big three zone types of residential, commercial, and industrial as they all have inherent flaws as they relate to the land use plan. Residential annexations will create unneeded competition in this current economic downturn for those trying to sell their homes.”

They made the perfect arguments in 2009 and we voted for them. Now they seem to be flip-flopping on us by annexing and then rezoning the Southern Pines parcel to residential.

No one has done a better job of explaining exactly why we should avoid this annexation than Fleisch, Learnard and Imker.

Joshua Bloom

Peachtree City, Ga.



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