With RaceTrac coming, PTC Council to decide Hwy. 54W street swap
A few tweaks for the proposed RaceTrac convenience store on Ga. Highway 54 West at Line Creek Drive were suggested by the Peachtree City Planning Commission Monday night, but barring major trouble the project appears headed for approval next month.
As for what will go behind the RaceTrac on the rest of the 13-acre site, it depends in part on an agreement that will be considered by the City Council Thursday night.
The proposed agreement aims to broker a deal for the city to sell most of Line Creek Drive and all of Line Creek Circle, which would allow the developer to have larger stores on the property because it removes the hindrance of road setbacks.
The agreement, however, does not confer the right to have at least one “big box” store on the site. Any store over the city’s 32,000 square foot size limit, or if the entire development runs over 150,000 square feet, will trigger the city’s special use permit process.
It is not believed that the overall development would run more than 150,000 sq. ft., according to Trinity representative Jim Lowe.
City Councilman Eric Imker said during public comments that he supports the agreement, even though he is wary about the likelihood a new traffic light would be required for Line Creek Drive. Having an “anchor” sized store there is important and will not take business away from smaller businesses in the city, Imker said.
Furthermore, Imker said without the agreement, the city could have smaller stores such as nail and hair salons, pawn shops, tattoo parlors and “used car dealers with easy credit.”
“If we keep those streets in the city, that’s what we’re going to get,” Imker said. “We have to give up those streets to not get those things in there.”
Plus, Imker said, the city benefits from getting rid of the streets since it will no longer have to pay to maintain them.
Commissioner Patrick Staples said he was less worried about the additional light, because he thinks traffic issues can be cured by improving the timing of the lights.
The Georgia Department of Transportation several years ago turned down a developer’s application for a stoplight at Line Creek Drive because it was too close to the existing stoplight at Hwy. 54 and Planterra Way.
Tim Lydell of the Cardiff Park subdivision, who has been deeply involved in the preparation of several plans for the site, said nearly every homeowner in the community approved of the agreement, and no one has come out against it. About six residents could not be contacted prior to the meeting, Lydell said.
Caren Russell of the Planterra Ridge subdivision, who has been closely following the development proposals for the site, said she felt the agreement showed a number of advantages for the city. Russell said she thought the development would also help the MacDuff Parkway shopping center, “which we all know is struggling.”
The agreement was approved by the commission, and it will be considered by council at its regular meeting Thursday night. The timing was considered crucial by Trinity Development representative Lowe, who noted that this week he will be attending a major retail trade show where Trinity will talk to other national retailers about coming to Peachtree City.
Currently, the property is owned by BB&T Bank, which won approval last month to develop the parcel piecemeal. The land is zoned general commercial, and the previous proposal from Trinity Development would have had 164,000 sq. ft. of retail on the site, including several stores over 32,000 sq. ft. each.
That large-scale proposal died after Trinity was informed that council didn’t want to do the land swap. But that sentiment apparently changed in recent weeks as Councilwoman Kim Learnard began researching the matter with city planning staff.
City Planner David Rast explained that the review led to the conclusion that the city hadn’t aptly communicated what it wanted in exchange for the road land. The proposed agreement was aimed at doing just that, Rast noted.
In return for the roads, the city is seeking a host of different things, and its likely all won’t come to fruition. One of the central items is additional property at the rear of the site to buffer from the Cardiff Park subdivision and also land to the west along the city-owned Line Creek Nature Area.
Whether the deal happens or not, Cardiff Park residents will benefit from a 75-foot “transition yard” buffer between the subdivision and the retail area. A relatively new city ordinance requires that area to be landscaped and bermed to buffer the shopping center from the adjacent residences. The agreement would only add some land to that buffer.
The city is also hoping to work with the Southern Conservation Trust and Pathway Communities to make way through the nature area for a road that will connect the Line Creek shopping center with the struggling Shoppes at the Village Piazza retail center at Hwy. 54 and MacDuff Parkway.
As for the RaceTrac, its stone and brick exterior also includes umbrella-shaded tables for outdoor eating, and the company will look at adding some golf cart parking to the site plan.
A RaceTrac representative said this is a new prototype for the company.
The store will have access to Hwy. 54 both at Line Creek Drive and also via a right-in, right-out access directly on the highway.