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Haddix on names, walking signs, gas golf carts

Don Haddix's picture

It has been busy with a lot of issues being discussed, researched and pursued. So being the end of year, it is time for another update.

Walking signs are an issue the majority want banned on the right of ways, etc. Our sign ordinance has been one of the most desirable features for Peachtree City. Because the economy is bad, we have an excess of retail space in the city and not all stores have high visibility on highways, [but that] is not a reason to abandon either our sign ordinance or the principles which it contains.

In the past when non-profits took to the major intersections soliciting donations, the citizens complained so they were strictly regulated.

Now we have a very similar situation, but this time being they are for-profit, not always even located in Peachtree City. Same principle and same reaction from the citizens.

Reality is we need more customers and more disposable income, meaning more jobs with more employees buying local homes and shopping here. A lack of signage size, numbers or gimmicks is not the problem. Trying to weaken what has made us desirable and a model for other cities is a serious mistake.

Regarding gas golf carts, this has created very strong feelings on both sides of the issue. Fact is giving a 10-year grace period should allow for new technology to replace gas carts altogether.

But for today the inability to inspect or require emissions testing has allowed some extremely offensive smelling and noisy carts to be on the paths, as even admitted to by some gas cart owners.

Even well-maintained carts are unwelcome intrusions upon others on the paths, which the majority I have heard from opposing the ban do not deny. Those we have heard from have a strong majority wanting them banned.

We hear it will hurt commerce and the disabled. I disagree because there are exemptions for both those groups for 10 years. The assumption people will refuse to buy carts if they are not gas-driven is not one I can accept. Neither gas or electric golf carts are problem free, so that kind of argument is not realistic.

It is not an immediate complete fix but it does create a 10-year period for adjustment and change. If something unforeseen occurs, the ordinance can be eliminated or changed. I had hoped to have the vote done but some last minute questions came up, so one more month was added before the vote.

With Fischer’s Crossing there were actually tenants contacting our staff and me who honestly believed they were locating in Peachtree City. They were shocked when told they are in unincorporated Coweta County with a Sharpsburg address. The letters were to try to stop and correct that misrepresentation to them by whoever before all the signage was in place.

We are already seeing some corrections in the newer advertising being used.

Developer Seymour said we could have had Kohl’s because they wanted to come to CCD. Fact is Kohl’s signed onto Fischer in 2007, which was two councils ago and never approached us for anything. It is just like CCD’s claim Publix wanted to locate on that site but, when I called them, it was basically that was news to them.

We don’t need to be building more places to stand empty or that cause existing stores to close.

As a side note, some are calling stores like Best Buy Big Boxes. They are not. Best Buy is 30,050 square feet, not 32,000 or more. Best Buy neither falls within the usage or size definition of a Big Box.

Last, but not least, is HB 277, the TSPLOST and related issues. I still believe being in the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is a mistake and that this tax is going to hurt Fayette County. I still believe it will not pass in Three Rivers, and even if it did, we could get more beneficial projects there than in ARC.

On the vote to remove me from the Roundtable, our city attorney and a legislator, who is a lawyer, can find no legal grounds. The legislator says now that the bill has passed it requires the judicial branch to make an official ruling on who should represent Fayette.

GDOT Director Todd Long originally said he was advised to take no position and have Fayette resolve the matter. But, when asked who he would seat if both Mayor Steele and I showed up, he said Steele.

That was a political, not a legal, decision. It is a decision that does not surprise me since Long is a proponent and whose job it is to get the Roundtable to vote for the tax and promote the tax to the voters. It does not surprise me because Steele is strongly pro ARC and has publicly stated support for rail in Fayette in the past, 2008 as a specific example.

Steele has offered nothing but his opinion I could be removed. I have contacted the Attorney General and am waiting for a reply.

Steele had been criticizing me for not working to get all out of the tax possible and said I should have been working on getting the projects together for Fayette. My response was I am not required by law to support the tax and it was too early for the projects list, plus I was working to leverage all I could, as reflected by contacts trying to see what would placate me. Now, when asked for his projects list, he says it is too early. As well, he talks about the tax as if passage is a given.

There is a lot going on and a lot to think about. A move to Three Rivers can still be voted by the Peachtree City Council if one person who voted pro ARC calls for a reconsideration vote. The key to success remains getting good-paying jobs here to fill vacant homes and stores.

It is my belief that the citizens of Fayette County desire to maintain our unique identities and forge our their own future remains firm. I share in that goal.

Cathy and I wish a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all!

[Don Haddix was elected mayor of Peachtree City in 2009. Previously, he had served two years as a council member. His email is dhaddix@peachtree-city.org.]

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