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Fischer Crossing hearing comes with economic impact report

It’s all coming down to the meeting on Sept. 16. The Coweta County Commission that night will conduct a public hearing on a request

by the Fischer Crossing Development Group to rezone approximately 35 acres near the northeast corner of Fischer Road and Ga. Highway 34 and reroute a portion of Wynn’s Pond Road.

The request would locate an additional 225,500 square feet of commercial space for Kohl’s and other retailers along with three community football fields immediately north of the previously approved Fischer Crossing retail development. An economic impact on the development shows that, if left as is, the property would generate a total of $5.2 million in property and sales taxes as opposed to the $7.1 million generated if the current request is approved by commissioners.

The request by developer Scott Seymour comes in two parts. The first portion involves the request to rezone 20.56 acres immediately to the north of the previously approved commercial development and along Fischer Road. The request would remove two previous conditions attached to the C-7 (Commercial Major Shopping District) zoned property. Those include the commission-approved stipulation that access to Wynn Pond Road be prohibited unless requested by the entire Featherston Fishing Club and that a 100-foot buffer be maintained along Wynn Pond Road with an additional 50-foot planted buffer, according to county Planning Director Robert Tolleson. The stipulation is based on the county’s Comprehensive Plan that calls for protecting the county’s cultural and historic character.

The 20.56-acre tract is proposed to be the site of 225,500 square feet of commercial space that includes a Kohl’s Department Store serving as anchor along with six outparcels.

The second portion of the request involves a conditional use rezoning of the 14.07-acre tract immediately to the north of the 20-acre tract from Rural Conservation (RC) to C-7. Included in that portion of the request are three proposed football fields and a day care facility.

Also in Seymour’s request is the closure of the current portion of Wynn Pond Road where it intersects on the south side of the 20.56-acre tract, a short distance from Fischer Road, and rerouting the road 840 feet along the north side of the tract without coming in contact with the commercial development, then west to intersect with Fischer Road. If rerouted, Wynn’s Pond residents would have a road by which to enter and exit their property that would not be subject to traffic from the commercial development. If the request is denied, the Featherston Fishing Club property would be directly linked to the commercial development.

The proposed project has received a Development of Regional Impact (DRI) approval with conditions from the Three Rivers Regional Commission along with approval with conditions from the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA).

The county Board of Zoning Appeals last week recommended approval of the request, though that recommendation came with a number of conditions.

The Coweta County Planning & Zoning Department has recommended denial of the request.

Seymour late this week released an economic impact report on the Fischer Crossing development, including the portion of the development that is the subject of the Sept. 16 public hearing. The 16-page report, entitled “The Economic Impact of Fischer Crossing Shopping Center on Coweta County” was compiled by Dr. William Smith and Dr. Hilde Patrol-Boenheim, both of the University of West Georgia’s Department of Economics.

Pertinent to the Sept. 16 rezoning and road abandonment request is Pod B and Pod C. Pod B would be the location of the Kohl’s, T.J Maxx, a sporting goods store, other retail outlets and a restaurant. The southernmost portion of Pod B is situated in the property already rezoned. The northernmost portion, along with all of Pod C, is situated in the property up for review by commissioners. It is in this portion of Pod B that the Kohl’s store would serve as the anchor, along with three large retail buildings to the east. Pod C is the proposed location of the three football fields and a daycare facility.  

According to the University of West Georgia report, Pod B in total would contain more than 270,000 square feet of commercial space and employ 310 people with wages totaling $6.75 million. Pod C would be the site of a 12,500 square-foot day care center along with the three football fields. The daycare facility would employ 15 people with wages totaling $206,000. The football fields would be used by community teams.

In total, the Fischer Crossing is situated in five pods. Of the remaining previously approved portions of the property, Pod A is located on the extreme eastern portion of the northeast corner of Fischer Road and Hwy. 34 and includes the NCG Cinemas now under construction, an aquatic center and other retail outlets, all totaling more than 60,000 square feet and projected to employ 100 with annual wages estimated at $1.5 million.

Pod D is situated on the northwest portion of the property and includes the Sam’s Club, also currently under construction, along with retail stores and a restaurant, all totaling 158,000 square feet and employing 233 people with wages totaling $5.2 million.

Pod E is located on the southwest corner of the development and currently has no commercial space under development. The report noted that, once developed, the pod will include retail stores, a bank and restaurant totaling 300,000 square feet and providing 320 jobs with an estimated payroll of $7.5 million.

As significant as the shopping, jobs and wages that the development is expected to bring are the tax revenues that would be collected for Coweta County. The report notes the difference in property tax revenues and sales tax revenues depending on the decision of commissioners to deny the current request and keep the development as it currently stands or whether they approve the current requests and allow for the expansion of Pod B and the creation of Pod C.

“If partially developed as specified, Coweta County property tax revenues are estimated to be $1.2 million or 3.9 percent of current property tax revenues, the majority of which will remain at the local level. County sales tax revenues are estimated to be $4 million or about 21.7 percent of current sales tax revenues,” the report said. “If fully operational, property tax revenues are estimated to be $2 million or 6.5 percent of total property taxes. Sales tax revenues are estimated to be $5.1 million or 27.7 percent of current sales tax revenues. Thus, local revenues (sales and property taxes) generated by the operational phase is estimated to be between $5.2 and $7.1 million annually, or between 8.7 and 11.9 percent of total county revenues.”

While not part of the report, there is yet another factor that figures into the sales tax equation. It is one that comes with the business reality that, when it comes to shopping, dining and entertainment preferences and convenience, county lines have long since evaporated. In that regard, it is undeniable that the Fischer Crossing development is likely to draw significant numbers of Fayette County estimated 107,000 residents, including those living in Peachtree City less than a mile away.

Meantime in other areas of the Fischer Crossing retail development, construction on the 136,000 square-foot Sam’s Club store on the northwest corner of Fischer Road and Hwy. 34 is now well underway. Referring to the east Coweta business as its “Peachtree City” store, Walmart representatives said recently that the opening is expected in early 2011.

And on the easternmost portion of the northeast corner of the intersection, the 10-screen NCG Cinemas is also under construction. The theater is expected to open around Thanksgiving followed by the aquatic center in spring 2011.

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The state is the great fiction by which everybody tries to live at the expense of everyone else. F. Bastiat

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