UPDATED — PTC annexation: 3 ran as opponents of expansion
UPDATED and expanded for print edition Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012 — A 77-acre parcel that was zoned more than a decade ago by Fayette County for commercial, office and residential use on the city’s southern border — a rezoning opposed at that time by the Peachtree City Council because it violated the county’s land use plan — is now up for annexation by a different City Council, three of whom campaigned in 2009 as annexation opponents.
This time around, both city staff and a split city Planning Commission say the council should say yes and bring the parcel into the city. The annexation and rezoning request is on the council’s Thursday night agenda, with the meeting open to the public at City Hall starting at 7 p.m.
The proposal calls for two lots to be used for offices and 90 lots for residences on the 77 acres. The developer pledges to deed to the city a pond, greenbelt and buffers totaling 27 acres and road rights of way totaling nearly 10 acres.
The land has remained undeveloped in the county since its rezoning in 2000.
The property, now being dubbed as “The Gates” subdivision, is located directly off Ga. Highway 74 and Redwine Road. It is directly across the highway from a 13-acre tract of land that was annexed into the city in 2006 for office use, and to the south it abuts the Brechin Park subdivision in unincorporated Fayette County.
The closest residential development is also on the opposite side of Hwy. 74 The proposed development is also immediately adjacent to the city’s Meade Field recreation complex, which is to the north.
According to city staff, the parcel as currently zoned by the county for a mixed use of retail and office is nearly equivalent in size to The Avenue shopping center, which is located at the intersection of Ga. highways 54 and 74.
The two planning commissioners who voted against the annexation said they worried about the potential negative effect on the resale of existing homes in the same price range. Developer Southern Pines Plantation is proposing home sales around $350,000 with an average home size around 2,800 sq. ft.
There was also a concern expressed about having the site for a potential future corporate headquarters as the city is running out of such sites that are undeveloped.
The lot size of about one-third-acre each is smaller than the adjacent Brechin Park in unincorporated Fayette, but would still “provide consistency in land use,” according to a memo to council written by City Planner David Rast.
Three of the five sitting council members opposed such annexations when they ran for office in 2009. In answering detailed questions from The Citizen, council members Eric Imker, Kim Learnard and Vanessa Fleisch at that time came out unequivocally against further annexations after the West Village was brought into the city during a controversial annexation and rezoning of hundreds of acres.
“Annexing more land to build additional housing is obviously going to hurt existing unsold homes,” then-candidate Imker wrote in a letter to The Citizen July 21, 2009.
“After the approximately 1,400 [West Village] homes are built, I do not see any reason to expand the city limits through annexation. Adding more homes would cost the city a great deal in infrastructure and services that would always be a part of our budget. Continually planning for expanding fire, police, and cart paths while annexing in more land will wreak havoc on the budgeting process,” then-candidate Fleisch wrote to The Citizen on Oct. 27, 2009.
“Even an annexation that at first glance appears to be a cost benefit due to building permits and impact fees can end up costing a city millions of dollars over time,” then-candidate Learnard wrote to The Citizen on Oct. 27, 2009.
All three, however, raised no objections to the proposal in July when they granted the applicant’s request for consideration.
The developer has published estimates of a five-year net revenue increase to the city of $401,392 in taxes and fees if the annexation is approved as requested.
A city analysis of costs versus revenues was not available by press time.
The plan includes a 50-foot greenbelt surrounding the property and one condition from city staff is to insure that no sewer main or manhole is within 200 feet of an adjoining property line; that distance is required to make sure the city has control over whether the sewer is extended beyond the property.
Another condition of the proposed annexation requires at least three canopy trees on each parcel. SPP has committed to grading each lot individually in order to have the best chance of preserving trees on each parcel.
— Additional reporting by John Munford