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77-acre annexation approved by City Council on 3-2 vote

On a 3-2 vote, Peachtree City will be adding to its southernmost city limits, swallowing up a 77-acre site that’s currently zoned by the county for a shopping and office complex the size of The Avenue shopping center.

But as part of Peachtree City, the parcel will be developed as a 90-home subdivision with two office buildings at the entrance along Ga. Highway 74 south and Redwine Road.

The elimination of the potential commercial threat against existing shopping options in Peachtree City was enough to sway several members of council to vote for the annexation. Voting for were council members Kim Learnard, Vanessa Fleisch and Eric Imker.

Voting against were councilman George Dienhart and Mayor Don Haddix. Dienhart said he is concerned about a possible “double dip” recession affecting the city which might leave “a half-built subdivision and a bunch of empty lots.”

Dienhart said he was also concerned about the impact on the nearby Starr’s Mill school campus in light of the countywide school closings, which will increase the number of students at those schools, which will be “quite a bit more cozy than they are today.”

School Superintendent Jeff Bearden told the city there was sufficient room at the complex to handle students from the proposed subdivision called The Gates.

Imker noted that one citizen commented that the influx of students might be enough to allow additional teachers to be hired for the school system, which has seen a decline in its student enrollment figures over the past several years.

Haddix said he felt there was plenty of residential stock in Peachtree City but what is needed are office sites. Haddix said if it was supported by the property owner he would prefer to zone the property for office institutional use.

Fleisch said she felt the pricing of the new homes being annexed would be high enough to avoid causing a conflict with resale homes of similar size and character. A consultant to developer Southern Pines Plantation said the homes would be priced about 10-20 percent above similar homes on the resale market.

She also said she worried about the potential development as a shopping and office center if it remained in unincorporated Fayette County, a concern echoed by both Learnard and Imker.

Learnard said she felt the annexed property would have city buffers and would otherwise be best off in the city’s control. Having that control was the main reason that Imker said he supported the annexation.

“Everything else I’ve heard screams yes,” Imker said, noting that the subdivision wouldn’t put a financial burden on the city either according to an analysis from city staff.

Imker also noted that the difference in vehicular traffic alone was a significant reason to annex the property for the changed use. The shopping center concept was predicted to bring about 16,000 car trips a day compared to just under 1,100 with the annexed office and residential development.

The site is bordered by the Meade Field recreation complex and the Brechin Park subdivision and Starr’s Mill Academy day care center, the latter two being in unincorporated Fayette County.

Developer Southern Pines Plantation plans to market the homes in the $350,000 price range on lots of about 1/3 acre each. While that was deemed too small for some, city staff said the lot size was comparable to about 10 different subdivisions in Braelinn Village.

The subdivision will have a 60-foot wide landscaped buffer along Ga. Highway 74 and also a 50-foot buffer along the remainder of the perimeter. Also SPP is committing to building a cart path to reach the Meade fields and also connecting the Meade restrooms to sewer as part of the development package.

Fleisch suggested that the two office buildings, which will be no more than two stories, use architecture that is more residential in character than the nearby Starr’s Mill medical complex. SPP representatives and City Planner David Rast said they were fine with implementing that change.

Without the one-time fees for the initial development, city staff predicts that the new subdivision will actually have a positive cash flow for the city, although minimal, over 10 years. The city’s calculations, cached as “best guesses,” showed a positive impact of $74,000 over that decade-long time frame.

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