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PTC may go back to big box limits; 1 goal would be protection of smaller stores

Peachtree City may be going back to a firm size cap on the largest-sized retail stores that will be allowed by city ordinance.

Such a “big box” ordinance would contrast to the city’s current method of regulating the size of stores and shopping centers. Currently the city allows developers a size of up to 32,000 square feet for an individual store and no more than 150,000 square feet total for one single shopping center.

But under the current guidelines a developer can petition for a larger sized store or development by securing special permission from the City Council via a special use permit.

A new application of fixed size caps on stores and developments was discussed briefly by the Peachtree City Planning Commission Monday night, but a concrete proposal is still in the works by city planning staff.

Community Development Director David Rast told the commission that such a new ordinance could break down size maximums based on the use of a particular store.

Grocery stores, he noted, are among the city’s largest stores, but the biggest big box honor goes to the Walmart at 218,000 square feet, with the city’s Target store is in second place at 124,000 square feet.

Rast said council has requested staff to look into this ordinance change, which would be aimed at protecting the retail tenants who are already located in the city, as super-sized stores can “kind of suck the life out of some smaller tenants, causing them to go under.”

The city also needs to have restrictions that would keep a shopping center with smaller tenants, such as the Aberdeen and Willowbend shopping centers, from being redeveloped in the future with new stores that are drastically larger in size.

Staff is looking into applying the size limits on land zoned both general commercial and limited use commercial.

Such an ordinance with hard and fast size limits for stores and shopping centers would take any decisions out of council’s hands unless a variance is sought. Under city ordinance, council has final say on all variance matters.

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