Thoughts on PTC and growth

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.

I first came to Peachtree City in the early 1970s. I was looking for my first house. I eventually decided to move to Fairburn instead because it had a small town feel and my wife grew up in a Georgia town of 600 people. Little did I know that PTC would grow into what it is now, one of the best places to live in Georgia.
Lately, there has been a lot of talk about Peachtree City, the Village concept, and the “City Center.” For those of you unaware of the master plan, PTC was envisioned to be five villages: Aberdeen, Wilksmoor, Glenloch, Braelinn, and Kedron. Each were to be geographically distinct, with shopping and recreation. Lately, the City Council has been talking a lot about adding a “City Center.”
Having been on the PTC Planning Commission, I understand the concept. It would be nice to have a downtown area where there are restaurants, bars, and entertainment. Every time I go to Athens, I remark about how nice it is to visit, but I say the same thing about NYC.
Seriously, I just don’t see PTC evolving in that manner for a number of reasons. First, it is just about impossible to add a city center without making the existing PTC traffic problem even worse. As it is, the GA 54-74 corridor is a horror. Adding anything near there, such as the Aberdeen proposal’s apartments, will make it much more congested. As things now stand, studies project that PTC traffic along that corridor will increase significantly, even without adding to it. And, the City and County seem clueless as to adding alternate routes around the congestion.
Second, I do not hear anyone asking for a city center. Most people that live here want suburban life along with the good schools that come with it. They are happy with the village concept. Notably, many are not happy that various City Councils have watered it down and added big box stores and so on, although that move has raised tax revenues.
Third, solely from a tax standpoint, PTC really does need more retail of some sort to generate taxes. It also needs more industrial. As the former Chair of the Tax Committee of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia, I can tell you that keeping local taxes down depends on retail and industrial development, which is where the City should put its time and effort.
PTC is currently imbalanced with too many residential units. Adding apartments and condos will end up costing residents more in services than the City/County will get in tax revenue.
For example, it costs over $8,000 annually just to educate a Fayette County child, much of that coming from local property taxes. The PTC tax break-even point is $330,000 appraisal price for a home; anything under that figure costs local government more than any additional taxes generated.
Finally, there’s the millennial situation. Fayetteville has the motion picture industry and appears to be creating a “City Center” around the studios. It’s a gamble, but it makes some sense given that unique TV/picture base (although the County seems to be shooting itself in the foot, see below).
PTC is very different, something that has never been discussed. We are an extremely conservative town which is aging. Political and social attitudes are not conducive to the addition of millennials in the City. Every survey that has been done shows that millennials are much more progressive than seniors and boomers. This one graphic (right) says it all:

And, its not only Presidential approval. Millennials are much more liberal in general, as shown at left:

In short, why would a millennial feel comfortable coming into a community with political and social views so different than theirs? And, it’s not just PTC. The so-called Religious Liberty resolution recently passed by the Fayette County Commission is a definite negative for millennials, who view discrimination against the LGBT community much differently than older citizens.
A Pew survey (5-22-18) of urban, suburban and rural residents’ views on key social and political issues reinforces what I’ve indicated regarding suburbs being much more conservative than cities. Political and social views are much different. If the City Center concept is built around millennials, and it appears that it is, it will have rough sledding and end up costing PTC. Get ready for tax increases.

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