Why is Walgreens allowed to deface PTC?

I cannot emphasize enough how dismayed I am about the proposed Walgreens site plan.

Given the history of this parcel, and the time and effort that went into maintaining the aesthetic value of this most important intersection, I expected that the expiration of the deed restrictions on the Ga. Highway 54/Peachtree Parkway corner Ruby Tuesday property would be handled by the city reaffirming its promise to its citizens and reinstating the restrictions before they expire, so that nothing more intense than is there now can go in.

The city should be able to uphold such a move based on precedent for the site and our land use and comprehensive plan objectives. Walgreens would have to conform or, preferably, build elsewhere.

I remember the numerous hours and many meetings where the public was assured that the site would remain protected. I later learned that the restrictions would expire in 2011, unless renewed.

I have found some old newspaper articles referring to the public outcry and quoting all the concerns about this parcel. Over 50 homeowners were present at the March 1991 meeting, expressing outrage that the corner that they had been assured was restricted to office use had at some time been rezoned to commercial.

In May of 1991 Ruby Tuesday presented an architectural plan which was rejected. They were told that the new design was “architecturally unsuitable for such a high profile corner in Peachtree City”. They were told that it was a prime corner, and that many other uses had been turned down there.

Jim Williams (former planner/director of Development Services) referred to it as the “most important intersection in town.” PCDC told them they wouldn’t turn over the property to them unless they revised their architectural proposal, and suggested that otherwise they should look for another location in town.

Ruby Tuesday then pulled out altogether. Sometime later they returned with the plan for the restaurant that now exists, and important restrictions were put in place.

Given the history, the care that was taken 20 years ago, and the public outcry when Walgreens tried to go across the street some years ago, it seems to me that the planning commission should be fussier and insist on similar restrictions.

They cannot completely dictate aesthetics as far as the architecture, but they do have a say about the footprint, size, materials and feel of the building and, especially given the precedent here, about retaining the buffers, landscaping, and limiting the impervious surface for parking.

They cannot at this point reject Walgreens, but they should better control what the Walgreens and the property will look like.

The constant concessions to mediocrity do us a disservice. In the past, our planners would tell the establishments what we expected and if they didn’t like it they could leave or comply. (That is why we do not have an Appleby’s; they wouldn’t accept our buffer requirement.)

At a planning commission meeting on Feb. 11, 2008, the Ruby Tuesday site was discussed in a workshop format. Walgreens was there to get a feel for whether they should purchase the property.

In the opening presentation it was stated that “the restrictions” on the property remain in place until 2011. The plan that was presented by Walgreens was to work within the current envelope of the site, except for a possible small loss of trees between it and Rite Aid.

There was concern expressed by city planners about retaining trees and landscaping, and it was requested that they keep the EXISTING FOOTPRINT. It was determined that since they couldn’t build for another three years, there was time to come up with an acceptable plan and that it should not be the usual prototype.

So, What has happened to our requirements between then and now?

The Ruby Tuesday is 4,365 square feet. The proposed Walgreens building is 14,550 square feet. The restaurant employs 50 people, the Walgreens will employ 35.

It is distressing that we are losing the essence of Peachtree City piece by piece, parcel by parcel. We must do something to mitigate this potential disaster.

For more information go to the city website (www,peachtree-city.org) and contact Walgreens corporate executives:

Walgreen Co.

104 Wilmot Rd. MS#1420

Deerfield, Ill. 60015

Greg Wasson (greg.wasson@walgreens.com)

Brendon O’Brien (brenden.obrien@walgreens.com)

United Retail Development Co. LLC

PO Box 670596

Marietta, Ga. 30066

678-296-7710

Scott Moore (smoore@unitedretaildev.com)

Russell Rankenburg (rrankenburg@unitedretaildev.com)

The planning commission (Patrick Staples, Lynda Wojcik and Theo Scott) gets to have the final say on this. Once they approve it, it doesn’t even have to go to council. Tony Bernard is planner and David Rast development director. Council member Vanessa Fleisch is council’s liaison to the planning commission (planningcommission@peachtree-city.org) (council@peachtree-city.org).

Phyllis Aguayo

Peachtree City, Ga.