PTC Mayor’s wife: My opinion is mine, not his
The wife of Peachtree City Mayor Don Haddix is now defending a comment she made that she hoped the city’s new economic development director’s stay here is “short-lived.”
In a letter to the editor, Cathy Haddix insists that her comments, shared with Economic Development Coordinator Joey Grisham at the recent grand opening of The Fresh Market grocery store, represent her viewpoint and not that of her husband.
Mrs. Haddix admits that she told Grisham “I hope your tenure is short-lived.” That phrase was used at the beginning of the conversation on purpose, she added.
“This is an attention getter. It worked,” she wrote.
Mrs. Haddix in the letter painted Grisham as being supportive of “big box” regional stores and not being supportive of the city’s village concept, which among other features calls for each village to have its own shopping center.
Grisham told The Citizen that he wants all businesses to be successful regardless of their size.
“We want big business to succeed as we do small business. That is what the free market is all about,” Grisham said.
According to the most recent city survey, the most requested retailers were Kohl’s Department Store and Trader Joe’s, he added.
Grisham further said he supports the city’s village concept, but he thinks some of the city’s village retail centers would not have been built today “based on the changes in retail site location.”
Grisham also noted that there are “very few tracts of land” large enough to accommodate a new big box retailer.
Mrs. Haddix in her letter also accused City Council members Vanessa Fleisch, Kim Learnard and Eric Imker of having Grisham’s focus be solely on retail business in Peachtree City.
“That means we have no advocate or authority in Peachtree City seeking good-paying jobs,” Mrs. Haddix wrote.
Grisham said he will be working on retail projects along with office, medical and entertainment proposals. He noted that he has been working in concert with Fayette County Development Authority President and CEO Brandt Herndon.
They have already visited with more than 10 companies in the industrial park.
Another topic on which Mrs. Haddix rapped Grisham was his support of keeping the special use permit process, which requires city council permission and scrutiny for any new commercial building larger than 32,000 square feet, and any new shopping center totaling more than 150,000 square feet.
Mayor Don Haddix had supported replacing the SUP with a “retail size cap” ordinance that outlined maximum sizes for retailers depending on the type of store. That proposal was nixed earlier this month on a 4-1 vote of the City Council, with Mayor Haddix being the sole vote in favor.
Grisham, along with Community Development Director David Rast, both said they wanted to keep the SUP process intact as it exists currently.
Mrs. Haddix said she told Grisham she favors more rigid ordinances that don’t allow room for negotiations.
“I said having structured ordinances makes it more clear for whoever, builders and developers, to understand where things stand rather than dealing with personal negotiations. Why give up what would already be required should be the city stance.”
So far only one company has been granted a special use permit for a large shopping center, and that development never came to fruition since the permit expired after it went unused for two years. However, that special use permit had outlined further restrictions on the site than are required by city ordinance.
For example, city ordinance requires the replacement of dead, dying or diseased landscape material within two years of a development getting its certificate of occupancy. The Line Creek SUP required review and replacement of that landscaping also upon the third and fifth years following the certificate of occupancy being issued.
Also, the SUP called for additional landscape planting, a berm and fencing within the 50-foot undisturbed greenspace buffer between the shopping center and the adjacent Cardiff Park subdivision.
Mrs. Haddix said she regretted that her conversation with Grisham had ended abruptly when Mayor Haddix came to get him so Grisham could speak with Fresh Market executives. She had hoped instead to hear more of what he had to say regarding her opinions, she said.
“I would have wanted his take as to what was said prior regarding his direction and desires for Peachtree City,” Haddix said. “If in keeping with what makes us different — then good luck with the job.”