With RaceTrac coming, PTC Council to decide Hwy. 54W street swap

A few tweaks for the proposed RaceTrac convenience store on Ga. Highway 54 West at Line Creek Drive were suggested by the Peachtree City Planning Commission Monday night, but barring major trouble the project appears headed for approval next month.

As for what will go behind the RaceTrac on the rest of the 13-acre site, it depends in part on an agreement that will be considered by the City Council Thursday night.

The proposed agreement aims to broker a deal for the city to sell most of Line Creek Drive and all of Line Creek Circle, which would allow the developer to have larger stores on the property because it removes the hindrance of road setbacks.

The agreement, however, does not confer the right to have at least one “big box” store on the site. Any store over the city’s 32,000 square foot size limit, or if the entire development runs over 150,000 square feet, will trigger the city’s special use permit process.

It is not believed that the overall development would run more than 150,000 sq. ft., according to Trinity representative Jim Lowe.

City Councilman Eric Imker said during public comments that he supports the agreement, even though he is wary about the likelihood a new traffic light would be required for Line Creek Drive. Having an “anchor” sized store there is important and will not take business away from smaller businesses in the city, Imker said.

Furthermore, Imker said without the agreement, the city could have smaller stores such as nail and hair salons, pawn shops, tattoo parlors and “used car dealers with easy credit.”

“If we keep those streets in the city, that’s what we’re going to get,” Imker said. “We have to give up those streets to not get those things in there.”

Plus, Imker said, the city benefits from getting rid of the streets since it will no longer have to pay to maintain them.

Commissioner Patrick Staples said he was less worried about the additional light, because he thinks traffic issues can be cured by improving the timing of the lights.

The Georgia Department of Transportation several years ago turned down a developer’s application for a stoplight at Line Creek Drive because it was too close to the existing stoplight at Hwy. 54 and Planterra Way.

Tim Lydell of the Cardiff Park subdivision, who has been deeply involved in the preparation of several plans for the site, said nearly every homeowner in the community approved of the agreement, and no one has come out against it. About six residents could not be contacted prior to the meeting, Lydell said.

Caren Russell of the Planterra Ridge subdivision, who has been closely following the development proposals for the site, said she felt the agreement showed a number of advantages for the city. Russell said she thought the development would also help the MacDuff Parkway shopping center, “which we all know is struggling.”

The agreement was approved by the commission, and it will be considered by council at its regular meeting Thursday night. The timing was considered crucial by Trinity Development representative Lowe, who noted that this week he will be attending a major retail trade show where Trinity will talk to other national retailers about coming to Peachtree City.

Currently, the property is owned by BB&T Bank, which won approval last month to develop the parcel piecemeal. The land is zoned general commercial, and the previous proposal from Trinity Development would have had 164,000 sq. ft. of retail on the site, including several stores over 32,000 sq. ft. each.

That large-scale proposal died after Trinity was informed that council didn’t want to do the land swap. But that sentiment apparently changed in recent weeks as Councilwoman Kim Learnard began researching the matter with city planning staff.

City Planner David Rast explained that the review led to the conclusion that the city hadn’t aptly communicated what it wanted in exchange for the road land. The proposed agreement was aimed at doing just that, Rast noted.

In return for the roads, the city is seeking a host of different things, and its likely all won’t come to fruition. One of the central items is additional property at the rear of the site to buffer from the Cardiff Park subdivision and also land to the west along the city-owned Line Creek Nature Area.

Whether the deal happens or not, Cardiff Park residents will benefit from a 75-foot “transition yard” buffer between the subdivision and the retail area. A relatively new city ordinance requires that area to be landscaped and bermed to buffer the shopping center from the adjacent residences. The agreement would only add some land to that buffer.

The city is also hoping to work with the Southern Conservation Trust and Pathway Communities to make way through the nature area for a road that will connect the Line Creek shopping center with the struggling Shoppes at the Village Piazza retail center at Hwy. 54 and MacDuff Parkway.

As for the RaceTrac, its stone and brick exterior also includes umbrella-shaded tables for outdoor eating, and the company will look at adding some golf cart parking to the site plan.

A RaceTrac representative said this is a new prototype for the company.

The store will have access to Hwy. 54 both at Line Creek Drive and also via a right-in, right-out access directly on the highway.

Spyglass
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Why is A Better Way allowed to operate a used car lot

in Peachtree City, when regular citizens are told the zoning for it doesn't exist in the city?

Some of us want to know.

Maybe the reporter at the paper could look into that..

MYTMITE
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I too have wondered about this . Are they getting an exemption

because they are a religious organization? a charity? Even so why should they be able to bypass our zoning laws? I have felt for sometime that all of their endeavors need to be looked into a little closer. They have all kids of businesses--bakery, moving company, store selling used items, etc. Do they pay taxes, have licenses for each business, etc. Just wondering.

kcchiefandy
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A Better Way...

...is listed on the city's website as paying occupational taxes. I imagine they received some sort of exemption/variance to codes & zoning due to the nature of their work (I don't think they're a not-for-profit, but might be since they're a 'ministry'); they're located in a General Industrial zone, also.

mthom5436
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Better Way Exemption

If they were given some kind of exemption wouldn't it had to have gone through City Council? and if it did happen (with or without City Council), how and why did it happen so quietly? Also, I think this is at least the third time Spyglass has raised the question. Usually, when someone post a direct question about city policy on here Betsy or Haddix usually answers pretty quickly. So, why the silence on this one?

I understand that Betsy doesn't have to respond but I appreciate that she does.

rmoc
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Better Way uses tax breaks to advantage

I have nothing against Better Way Minstries but they give everyone pause for the exemptions that are given to charities/religious groups. When does a charity become a business and why should they be exempt from the rules of general for-profit businesses?? I keep seeing Rev Creflo's mansion on Sandy Creek and shake my head...

PTC32YEARS
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2 Better Ways

There are 2 different "Better Ways" under the same roof; A Better Way Ministry and A Better Way Services. Services is "For Profit". Most people do not know about the Services part of it though. Of course, the grease ball that runs it decides what pot to put the money in at the end of the day. I have complained to the city about the Used Car Lot. They said they would look into the zoning. I never heard anything. Maybe we need to ALL ask about it and maybe we will get answers.

rmoc
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Better Way OMGoodness

So I am correct in my assessment?? someone is getting rich on this and the city is not looking into the issues if they operate for profit under the "charity" umbrella...

MYTMITE
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About a year ago I received a very slick, professional magazine

from A Better Way and the whole magazine was the different services they offered, which included a bakery making 'homemade style' breads, clothing, etc. I was curious so a friend and I went by there. They cover almost a whole block! Every door I went to, someone directed me to a door further down. Finally the last building we went into was a sort of Salvation Army type shop. It was so dirty and stunk so badly that I didn't even want to think of buying something that was supposed to be edible. Never did see any bakery--just different people sorting through what looked like junk to me--most of the things on their shelves also looked like junk---nothing like Clothes Less Traveled, Salvation Army or more importantly the outfits (clothing) featured in their magazine, which looked like something from a Belk's or Dillard's ad. We left after just a few minutes. I was at the point of upchucking from the smell. Outside were parked moving vans with A Better Way Logo as well as several other vehicles also with the logo. At the time we wondered how such a big operation could be in Peachtree City and we know nothing about it. After that I asked several people and even asked on here but no one else seemed to know about them either. Would be interesting to find out just what the story is behild all that.

Ninja Guy
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I Have Some Knowledge of Car Lot Regulations

and I know of none that exempt charitable/church organizations from state license or local zoning requirements. Used car dealers must be licensed by the state--period. Check the State of Georgia website to see if they have one, if you are curious that is.

As for local zoning, Hizzoner should have something to say about that, but he seems to be laying low for now.

Can Sandy Creek win state again--I think so! What's the streak now 41 or 42 victories in a row--very impressive!

Go Pats!

lettinguno
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Cardiff Park and Planterra Residents......

I can't believe you would approve of a 24 hour brightly lighted Race Track gas station over a a Kohl's Department Store. What were you thinking? You might want to get your drinking water tested.

MYTMITE
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Exactly what we need on 54 --a 24 hour RaceTrac gas station.

More and more we are becoming what every other nearby city has become---drive into Newnan and see what Peachtree City will look like in a couple of years. Fast food joints and service stations on almost every possible inch of 34 leading into Newnan. Downtown Newnan so far has not been that impacted but we will not have that benefit. I know, I know, we need businesses but is this the type of business we want and need right in the middle of our town? Yes, we have to expect progress but is it progress when it destroys what attracts people to our area now?

Robert W. Morgan
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That's right Caren, more competition is just what they need

I don't really think a "struggling" shopping center is actually helped by putting another 164,000 square feet of competing empty space next door, but maybe you are on to something new. Maybe what you mean is that the Dollar Store will move out of the old center into the new one and that will free up some space for a real anchor.

What actually is good is the fact that Kim and Eric are the ones working on this. Even though Eric has fallen for the old pawn shop argument. Must I remind you that Doug McMurrain's ghost lives on here in the body of his former partner Vince Riggio who is the head of Trinity Development? At least he's smart enough to dodge financial hit that BB&T took on the land and reap all the rewards - assuming he can find some tenants. Buying the land for about 35% of market value helps a lot.

And somebody needs to address the fact that 3 or 4 spaces of 32,000 square feet next to each other are just a couple of doorway openings from a 100,000 square foot Costco or BJ's. Let's see, anybody on council work in real estate? Hmmm.

Ninja Guy
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RWM--Man In The Know

RWM, just how did the area there get so over-developed? The Wal-Mart/Home Depot area I can understand, as it is set back a significant distance from the road. Even Best Buy is not THAT close to the road. How did our fine and pristine city wind up with a solid wall of strip-mallish properties only feet from the edge of 54? Who are these Trinity Development people you keep mentioning? Are they some kind of non-profit Christian group? Why are the good and loyal PTC citizens in Planterra allowing this to happen? Where are the community organizers? Can vinyl make a real comeback outside of the hipster crowd? Can Roddy White turn it around?

Vote No On Over-Development by Non-Profit Christian Groups!

Help us pastor Epps!

MYTMITE
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Ninja guy, no Trinity is not a Christian group, at least i don't

think so--for what they have done and are trying to do in and to Peachtree City, I feel they worship cold hard cash and nothing else. They have scared the pants off Planterra Ridge residents for some time threatening a Hooters if they didn't get what they want--so now they want to put a 24 hours RaceTRac service station right on the corner and Planterra Ridge is okay with this? They have bullied and threatened and PTC has capitulated. I say let the bullies threaten--do not give them the roads or any of the other easements they want. Make them stick to the rules as the rest of us must do. We are going to end up with crap there even if we give in to all their demands. I dread what the drive down 54 will be ten years from now.

kcchiefandy
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Ninja...

...they apparently own a lot of properties around here, esp. on 54W:

http://www.trinitydevelopment.net/

I don't see a Christian tie-in. No, vinyl won't, but my daughter is trying; she loves the medium. Roddy needs Julio to step it up and demand more double-teams. The 'Birds will have their hands full w/ the Titans; Hassleback's been reborn, albeit a moot point - Packers will be the NFC reps in the SB.

Ninja Guy
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KC Andy

Owning land is one thing, but ramming acres of street-side shopping centers on it would seem to be against zoning regulations, including setbacks and such! I can't build my front porch right up to the curb! Most other shopping areas are set back further from the street--why did Trinity or whomever over there get a dispensation?? RWM should know! Pastor Epps, do you?

I love the sound of vinyl myself, just not on furniture! No time to listen to music anyway--either working, driving the family taxi, or blogging (at least when editor Cal lets me)!

Julio won't help Roddy hold onto balls that hit him right in the hands--He's gotta do that himself! But, I have faith that he will get his sticky fingers back!

Yes, Packers in the SB, definitely! But against whom? The Broncos perhaps? Tebow seems to have the Mojo!

Vote No on Overcrowded Shopping Near Planterra! (But I don't live anywhere near there so I don't actually care--I still think my public/private (Dar) operated ice rink is a good idea through)!

kcchiefandy
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Have to admit, Ninja...

...over my 8 years here that area has become tackier & tackier, and now somewhat of a traffic congestion. I really liked how they tucked Braelinn & Kendron shopping areas in amongst the trees; you hardly notice them. Why they went to the 'strip mall' look is beyond me.

Pats or Steelmen look to be odds-on favs for the AFC. K-State Wildcats take down a wounded Longhorn at home this Sat.!!

PTC Observer
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Ninja - Shopping

"Vote No on Overcrowded Shopping Near Planterra!"

Too late pal, you missed the vote or should I say boat?

Ninja Guy
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PTCO, I Was Not Around

to vote on that! Which administration let all of that happen? Logsdon, Brown, or their predecessors? Why do Trinity and this McMurrain fellow, whoever that is, get to push the city around by demanding the swapping of roads and such? Anyway, I only go to Home Depot once every two months or so, but I do like Panda Express for a cheap pseudo-Chinese fix every now and then! I think I saw your Chevy Malibu parked out front a few times! The one with the 'Honk if You Know Ludwig' sticker on it!

Dawgs Gonna Bite The Wildcats on Saturday! Jackets might present a challenge!

PTC Observer
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Ninja - Honk?

Why I am surprised by your response, it's government that is deciding these things, where things should go, what property should be swapped. How the entrance into our fair city should look.

In your world, how could government possibly be wrong Ninja? Do we have a failed socialist system running amuck?

Don't ding my door next time you get out of your car.

Robert W. Morgan
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So many questions, Ninja

I'll try to tackle the development stuff. 3 things happened that made that area much different that what we think of as PTC village-type commercial.
1. 90% of Peachtree City was owned by one landowner (Equitable) who hired a management/development company who had a very talented and professional planning director who had a good working relationship with the city. Basically they planned, zoned and built the city together. The area in question was not under Equitable ownership except for Planterra Ridge and the industrial sites south of 54. The rest of the land was owned by Cowan, Farr, Huddleston, Rossetti and several others who were not bound by a master plan and they all possessed the old General Commercial zoning which back then allowed almost anything - including apartments.
2. Conversion of Industrial land in the 1990's to Residential (Planterra Ridge) and Commercial (The Avenue) started the domino-effect commercial development with every single landowner trying to jump on the bandwagon at the same time. Supply far exceeded the demand, but all landowners were trying to maximize their density and profit and there were no real restrictions or even strong zoning in place to prevent it.
3. The city did not have a close working relationship with these landowners as they did with Equitable and PCDC, but they held their own during the 1990's and managed to get Home Depot and WalMart done properly. Then the "leadership" of the city changed and Jim Williams and Jim Basinger left and the era of Doug McMurrain and Doug Dillard and an outright antagonistic relationship between the landowners and the city prevailed. Much of what is built over there was done during that stressful period.

Easy to look back at this now and second-guess, but putting The Avenue at Lexington Circle instead of where it is now and putting in high-end multi-family instead of Planterra Ridge and extending McDuff before there were neighbors to object would have made things much better.

Ninja Guy
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RWM Spins the Truth

Thanks for the commentary on the Equitable situation. It makes sense now why that area as turned out the way it is! I do like the Avenue though! I can sneak in the back entrance off of 74 without going through the 54/74 intersection! Who is this McMurrain fellow and where did he get all this money to buy up prime land in our fine and pristine city! I have no idea where Lexington Circle is!

Where is Hizzoner hiding these days?!

Robert W. Morgan
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Cool Ninja, 2 questions. Answerman is here for you

Doug McMurrain was RAM Development. He got his money from the banks in the GO-Go days. Remember how the banks were throwing money around in the late 1990's and early 2000's? Anybody could be a developer and some banks like Branch Banking and Trust, Fayette County Bank, Dale Geeslin's bank and others made developers out of small time builders and real estate brokers. The deal back then was - here's $2million find something and buy it - pay it back when you can. Of course those loan officers from then are now asking "do you want fries with that?"

Lexington Circle is at Walt Banks and Hwy 54 across from McIntosh HS. The Avenue people - Cousins Property, had that land under contract. Yes indeed it was large enough in the beginning - over 70 acres. Then they went to the chicken factory site (Hi-brand foods) for reasons that remain hidden to some (but not to me - it will be in the book I am writing).