Planning Commission to hear 3 hot topics Monday
Senior apartment rezoning; new Walgreens and cell tower rules
A proposal to build 100 age-restricted senior apartments on Newgate Road near the Kedron Village shopping center is expected to be voted on Monday night by the Peachtree City Planning Commission.
NorSouth has requested a rezoning for the 5.62-acre property, which is currently zoned Limited Use Residential for 21 “luxury” townhomes that never materialized.
The commission meets at 7 p.m. Monday night at City Hall. Its vote is advisory only; City Council has final say on the matter.
The apartments would be limited to residents 62 and older, though NorSouth expects that residents will skew to age 70 and above.
The proposal has drawn some community concerns for fear that if NorSouth’s business model doesn’t work, or if the company sells the property to another party, the apartments could be opened to residents of all ages.
NorSouth Vice President Brendan Barr has said although the company sold all of its previous age-restricted apartment complexes, the company’s sole focus now is on age-restricted apartments for seniors.
The request was tabled last month by the planning commission as several members said they wanted to see the development agreement full ironed out before they issue their decision.
City planning staff have recommended approval of the rezoning, in large part because it meshes with the city’s land use plan designation of multi-family for the parcel.
Along with Interim Community Development Director David Rast’s recommendation are 14 conditions for the rezoning, including a requirement for NorSouth and all future property owners to follow federal age restriction and verification policies, which include the use of a photo ID listing each residents’ date of birth.
The development will be surrounded on Newgate Road by an existing hotel, car wash, convenience store and gas station, officials said. Those working and living at the apartments would also have convenient access to office, retail and restaurant options in the area including the immediately adjacent Kedron Village shopping center.
Even if the rezoning passes the commission’s muster, it may have more difficulty gaining council approval. Several City Council members have expressed hesitation over the NorSouth senior apartment project in part due to concerns the business plan might fail, leaving the apartments open to residents of all ages.
Walgreens site plan
So, does anybody like Walgreens’ plans for a new store in Peachtree City any better a month later?
Architectural plans for a Walgreens pharmacy that will take the place of Peachtree City’s Ruby Tuesday restaurant drew a quiver of verbal arrows from the city’s Planning Commission last month.
The commission asked United Retail to take its renderings back to the drawing board for a more creative concept that lacks the company’s corporate architecture.
Monday night, the commission is due to review and vote on the conceptual site plan for the 14,550-square-foot store, which will be more than three times the size of the existing Ruby Tuesday restaurant. The commission meets at 7 p.m. at City Hall.
Some residents have expressed dismay that Walgreens is building on a site that puts it immediately adjacent to an existing Rite-Aid pharmacy. But the lot is zoned for commercial use so the city has no legal authority to prevent Walgreens from building on the property beyond the existing regulations for commercial developments.
A representative of Walgreens has said all the landscaping along Ga. Highway 54 and Peachtree Parkway will remain in place.
Walgreens several years ago offered to purchase the Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church site across Hwy. 54 from Ruby Tuesday, but the City Council refused to grant a rezoning for the property on a 4-1 vote, with then-Mayor Steve Brown being the only vote in favor of the rezoning.
At last month’s planning meeting, Commissioner Larry Sussberg suggested the Walgreens be designed similar to the new Trek bike store at the Kedron Village shopping center.
“It is a modern building that uses a lot of stacked stone and natural materials,” Sussberg said. He also pointed out recent developments in the city which have distressed brick with wooden awnings instead of cloth awnings.
Resident Mary Giles was critical of the renderings presented by Walgreens last month.
“I don’t want to see that on the corner of Peachtree Parkway and Highway 54,” Giles said. “... It will be just like a slap in the face to those of us who live here when we drive by.”
New cell tower rules
Peachtree City’s proposed new cell tower regulations will be discussed in a workshop following Monday night’s Planning Commission meeting.
The new rules were not available by press time, but Interim Community Development Director David Rast has said they will be more rigorous than the current regulations.
The city would require wireless companies to document their need, conduct a “balloon test” and also undergo a “visual impact assessment.”
Balloon tests involve raising a large balloon to the proposed height of the antenna to give a better idea of how the tower would fit in with its surroundings.
The city will also be requesting “a plethora of information” from the cellular companies for documentation, Rast has said.
Under the city’s current ordinance there are relatively few cell tower sites in the seven mostly residential areas where new ones are needed. Those areas were identified by three cellphone companies: AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Of the available sites, most are owned by either the city or the Fayette County Board of Education. There are also opportunities for perhaps two new towers to be built on the Flat Creek Golf Course, according to a study conducted by the city.
Under current rules, all cell towers must be at least 200 feet away from any adjacent residential property and any roads; they also must be at least 50 feet from all non-residential property.
Such towers can only be built on property zoned general industrial, light industrial, open space or agriculture reserve.
The city has reached out to the cellphone companies in an effort to determine where companies can co-locate on new towers
The companies have indicated they want to build monopole towers instead of the traditional lattice-type towers.
The new towers would be no higher than 200 feet because above that level they have to be specially lit according to a requirement by the Federal Aviation Administration. The companies want to avoid having to light the towers out of concern they will draw more attention to them from an aesthetic point of view for nearby residents.