PTC Council talks annexing, communicating

With the exception of two large tracts on the northwest quadrant of Peachtree City above MacDuff Parkway, the city is nearly built out from a residential development standpoint.

Which is not to say the city is done growing, as there will likely be opportunities for annexation in the future. The big question is: what potential is out there and will such areas be a good idea to add to the city’s corporate limits?

The issue is expected to be broached early this year in a city council workshop, as City Manager Jim Pennington informed council Thursday that city staff was close to being fully prepared to move forward on the issue.

The matter was broached ever so briefly at a day-long “goals and objectives” workshop between council members Thursday. Councilman Eric Imker did not attend, but the atmosphere of cooperation helped the rest of council get the new year off to a solid start.

Another topic considered was how council members would communicate with city staff. Although in the past many have emailed department heads directly, the consensus was to instead have all email channeled to City Manager Pennington so he can be aware of the situation and work with the correct staff to make sure issues are handled appropriately.

“I always had stuff I wanted to talk to David Rast about,” Councilwoman Kim Learnard said of the city’s planning and zoning administrator. Now those phone calls and emails will need to go to Pennington, Learnard added.

“Citizen concerns are a big part of our job,” Learnard said.

Pennington replied with a smile and held up his iPhone, which provides a continuous stream of email, he said.

“If it’s a problem, it gets to the right person with my comments,” Pennington said.

Mayor Vanessa Fleisch said she had been in the habit of contacting staff but copying Pennington so he would be aware, but that will change under the new procedure, as she will contact Pennington alone.

Council also settled the matter of whether to continue with a prayer along with the Pledge of Allegiance at the opening of council meetings. The consensus was to switch to a moment of silence to allow those who wish to pray silently an opportunity to do so.

The meeting also involved a detailed presentation by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government from the University on Georgia covering a variety of topics including open records and open meetings laws.

Although city council members can attend social events together, they do have to avoid discussing city business while doing so, facilitator Tom Quist noted. At the same time, just having a conversation with a quorum of three council members or more might create the wrong impression, noted Councilman Mike King.

Such appearances can take off in the blogs, King said, noting that “the perception of impropriety is actually much worse than the impropriety itself.”

“It’s just so easy to fall into that trap,” King said.

Council also discussed the current policy about public comment at the beginning of the meeting that prevents speakers from addressing individual agenda items. The consensus was to keep the current system since there are no signs it is untenable.