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Haddix: Low Temp & ARC, Part 2

Don Haddix's picture

Here are some more updates on two issues, Low Temp and the TSPLOST.

On Councilwoman Kim Learnard’s letter concerning the Low Temp issue: I debated posting a response because I had hoped we were through discussing this issue. I finally decided some of the errors could not be left standing since they created some false impressions about a number of parties involved.

First, let me say I do not know where the source of the mix of information came from that resulted in the comments. I am making no accusations of any deliberate false statements on anyone’s part.

Indeed there were discussions with the county about the site Low Temp wanted this year that dated back to 1999 or earlier. The first plan approved was by the county in 2001.

In both 2008 and 2009 City Council was approached about an annexation. The numbers on the sewer cost and concessions from WASA were given then.

There were at least four different plans presented. There were agenda items on some of the proposals, the last being in late 2009. But it was for a retail site proposed by the owners, Southern Pines. It had nothing to do with Low Temp. So it was the right site with a lot of right numbers but for the wrong development.

A list of sites was created and looked at for several weeks by Low Temp, but that was in 2010. I was one of the contributors to the list.

There was a list of demands generated and examined during negotiations, again in 2010.

Prior to 2010 Low Temp had approached the county, but it was the Commission Chairman Smith, not FCDA. He wanted retail there, not industry, per Low Temp.

Remember, FCDA did a complete staff turnover after Low Temp made its contact with Peachtree City.

I hope these comments help give a clearer picture. Some of you remember the retail proposals so I am sure trying to date Low Temp back two years was confusing.

Moving on to the TSPLOST, to date, the bulk of the comments I have received strongly oppose the tax and support the return to Three Rivers. Those opposing do so because they want bus and/or rail in Fayette.

From The Citizen, “Fayette Chairman Smith and Fayetteville Mayor Steele argue that leaving ARC would leave Fayette without a voice in regional transportation issues, which is critical since some 60 percent of Fayette residents commute into Atlanta each workday.”

The 60 percent number is of those that are employed. Many in Fayette are not, such as students, retirees, stay at home parents, etc. As well, saying they all go into Atlanta is not true. Many work in Clayton and Fulton in the Airport area. Others work in other counties as well.

If you check out the the traffic numbers from 2000 to 2005, the numbers on Ga. Highway 74 actually decreased each year. They bumped back up in 2008 and 2009, about 2,500 over the 2000 number. But looking at the development associated with Hwy. 74 and I-85 explains a lot of the increase.

The data also shows MARTA connections dropped by about 50 percent from 2000 to 2007 from Fayette. Nationally, transit ridership is also declining.

The Citizen goes on to say, “Smith also said that in a more rural regional commission area, Fayette would be looked upon as a ‘metro’ county by the remaining more rural counties, putting Fayette in a poor position from a regional cooperation standpoint.”

Well, Coweta, in example, is in Three Rivers already. You don’t see them moving to ARC because they are “metro.”

Reported as well, “ARC, meanwhile, has provided Fayette with funding for Livable Centers Initiative projects in Peachtree City and Fayetteville of more than $1 million each, and another $400,000 in funding comes to Fayette Senior Services thanks to ARC, Steele and Smith said in separate interviews Tuesday with The Citizen.”

The LCI is not based on ARC membership. It is based on the federally-designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) of 18 counties because federal funding is involved. We cannot leave it any more than Coweta can. We would continue to use the LCI.

“If Fayette County is not a member of the ARC, it will still be subject to dictates for transportation without a voice at the table or a vote in the outcome,” Smith said.

On the issue of the Atlanta Air Quality Non-Attainment Area, being in ARC or not is a moot point. There are 20 counties in our area and ARC only reviews for compliance to Federal Air Quality requirements, just as ARC has to comply. Whether ARC likes the transportation plans of the other 10 counties is irrelevant. Again, Coweta is a member.

If there were such huge advantages to being in ARC, especially with the MPO and Non-Attainment Area issues, ARC would have a 20-county membership. But they don’t, because, as said by one official, they don’t want to be controlled by or become part of Atlanta.

Chairman Smith and Mayor Steel disagree with me on a number of issues, which is their right. I do not support this tax or its goals, especially those for ARC, or the West Bypass, just to give two examples.

This is a seriously long-term issue for Fayette with a lot of consequences involved. Chairman Smith and I will vote on the initial decisions this year and the new chairman and I will vote on the even larger decision next year.

Then in 2012, if it passes the Roundtable in 2011, it will be up to the voters of the region we are in. If in ARC, about 75 percent of the voters reside in Fulton, DeKalb, Cobb and Gwinnett out of 10 total counties. Fayette only as about 2.46 percent of the total population.

Any way you look at it, this is not a pretty picture with a lot of good choices. The state is mandating funding transfers to regions and taking away more home rule options. More is being expected from the cities, who have fewer resources every year, by both the state and federal governments.

[Don Haddix was elected mayor of Peachtree City in 2009. Previously, he had served two years as a council member. His email is dhaddix@peachtree-city.org.]

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