Fischer Crossings still in limbo

Fischer Crossings developer Scott Seymour (foreground) with project manager Nicholas Sawka before Coweta County commissioners Fe

There is still no resolution to the Fischer Crossings commercial development along Ga. Highway 54 just east of Fischer Road. Coweta County commissioners Feb. 2 voted 2-2 on changes to the conceptual site plan pertaining to an aquatic center on the north side of the property and questions about the access road situated behind the aquatic center and the theaters. Commissioners asked developer Scott Seymour to return Feb. 16 with additional information.  

Recommendations from the county planning department Tuesday night included the installation of sidewalks and crosswalks that would extend to the NCG theater and the need for Seymour to coordinate with the county on all safety and patron circulation issues.

Initial comments by the board included one by Commissioner Tim Lassetter, who said he had not received a copy of the updated plan prior to arriving at the meeting Tuesday night and, subsequently, had not been able to review it. Seymour responded minutes later, saying county planning staff had been provided with the information on Jan. 20.

Also weighing in with questions was Commissioner Randolph Collins, asking Seymour to provide a definition of the aquatic center. Seymour said the two-story center of approximately 10,500 square feet would be used for children and the elderly for rehabilitation purposes. Fischer Crossings project manager Nichols Sawka said shops on the second floor would overlook that pool areas downstairs.

Seymour said that NCG Cinemas, the development anchor, stipulated that they wanted to have another business operating when they opened in November and that he is in negotiations with a company that wants to operate the aquatics center.

Collins responded, saying he wanted to see the conceptual drawing of the aquatic center before rendering a decision on the matter. The area behind the center on the north side of the property is adjacent to a 150-foot buffer between the development and Wynn’s Pond Road.

Seymour questioned why that would be the case since Coweta’s customary process for such matters, once zoning approval is obtained from the commission, is to have developers work with county planning staff on such matters. Unlike some local governments, Coweta County does not use an appointed Planning Commission.

Turning to another issue, Commissioner Rodney Brooks asked about current plans for sewer services to the development. Sawka said that service will be provided by the county’s water and sewer department, with Seymour adding that he had already pre-paid $800,000 to have the system installed. Seymour said after the meeting that the $800,000 had been paid in July and has a 5-year time limit to either use the service or lose the money.

Commission Chairman Paul Poole moments later joined Lassetter and Collins, saying he didn’t think he could render a decision at this time.

During the discussion county administrator Theron Gay noted the commission’s December approval for the re-orientation of the theater to the easternmost portion of the property.

Speaking again, Collins said his main issue was with the aquatic center on the north side of the property near Wynn’s Pond Road and the access behind the building, specifically noting concerns such as nighttime security and vehicles having access to that area.

“So you’re suggesting not to have access roads behind buildings?” Brooks asked.

“No,” Collins quickly responded, adding again that he wanted to see the specifics of the roadway delineated on the site plan. The plan as presented showed the retail center’s roadway entrance from Hwy. 54 proceeding north and, in the area near the proposed aquatic center, transitioning to the east behind the aquatic center, south behind the theater and proceeding west again back to the Hwy. 54 entrance, effectively circling the development.

Commenting again was Gay, who noted the previous approval for the theater, recalling NCG’s stipulation that a co-tenant be present on the property when the theater opens and suggesting that with that prior approval Seymour get started with the theater.

At that point some on the commission said they wanted to see the building elevations for the aquatic center prior to making a decision on the matter, suggesting that it be continued until the Feb. 16 meeting.

Seymour questioned whether he should be required to spend $10,000 to have elevations done.

Brooks agreed, saying that, “It seems like we’re setting a precedent here. We didn’t see elevations (in December). I just want government to get out of the way.” Brooks after the meeting extended that remark, saying that government should let free enterprise work.

Lassetter again said he wanted to see an architectural rendering of the aquatic center elevations.

Gay after further discussion suggested that the board give the applicant direction. Commissioners again said they wanted the road behind the aquatic center and theater to be an emergency access road. Sawka agreed to that stipulation.

At that point Brooks made a motion to approve the conceptual site plan with the condition that the emergency access road behind the buildings be added. Poole seconded the motion. The vote was 2-2, with Brooks and Poole in favor of the measure and with Collins and Lassetter opposed. Commissioner Al Smith was not present at the meeting.

Poole asked Seymour to return on Feb. 16, instructing him to bring something that would give commissioners more of a feel about what the buildings would look like and to get with county planning staff in the interim.

Seymour after the meeting said, “I feel like the Wynn’s Pond group has some influence over the commissioners.”

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