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PTC to pursue 54W road swap

In a significant turnaround, the Peachtree City Council unanimously approved an informal agreement that could lead to a larger shopping center off Line Creek Drive than is currently approved.

The development also could lead to a new stoplight, which has been turned down in the past by state transportation officials because of its proximity to the existing stoplight for Planterra Way, which serves the Walmart-Home Depot shopping area.

Jim Lowe of Trinity Development said he didn’t think the new retail plan, which would be located behind a RaceTrac convenience store, would be over 150,000 square feet, which is the city’s size limit before triggering a review for a special use permit.

However, the development could have one or more stores over 32,000 square feet in size, which also would trigger a special use permitting process, which requires more detailed data with no guarantee of final approval from the city council.

The proposed deal is being hailed as an effort to lure at least one “anchor” store to the site to help make the center more economically viable.

Regardless of the outcome of a potential land swap deal, the RaceTrac convenience store is coming to the front area of this parcel, right off Ga. Highway 54. But it’s the remainder of that 13-acre site is slated to be developed in individual pieces instead of being built at the same time.

The agreement contemplates the swapping of city-owned roads — which would give Trinity flexibility to lure larger “anchor” stores — in exchange for additional land along the rear of the property near the Cardiff Park subdivision, additional land along the city-owned Line Creek Nature Area, a Trinity-funded access road linking the parcel through the nature area to a struggling shopping center off Hwy. 54 and MacDuff Parkway, and more.

A road swap deal was nixed by council earlier this year with no public notice, and Trinity responded by authoring a plan that legally met the city’s ordinance but allowed them to develop the site as a “subdivision” instead of all at the same time.

Assuming that the development will require a special use permit, Mayor Don Haddix said he wants the city to hire consultants to conduct the traffic and economic impact studies, with funding coming from Trinity Development. As the special use permit process stands, the developer applying for a special use permit can hire any company it wishes to conduct such studies, which are required to be provided to council for consideration as part of the SUP application process.

Haddix said he was skeptical about claims that better timing would improve traffic on Hwy. 54, because he has seen traffic getting worse where he lives.

At Monday night’s planning commission meeting, Councilman Eric Imker said he supports the agreement, even though he is wary about a new traffic light coming to 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.”

Residents in Cardiff Park, the subdivision abutting the rear of the commercially-zoned tract, are incredibly supportive of the land swap and plan for bigger retail on the site, according to Cardiff Park resident Tim Lydell.

The residents are also hoping to win concessions on limiting the hours of delivery and other matters pertaining to the operation of the center, Lydell said.

Cardiff Park will be protected by a 75-foot wide “transition yard” buffer that must be landscaped and bermed by Trinity, regardless of whatever commercial activities are built on the site.

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