By Pam Dufresne –
The proposed closing of the portion of Crabapple Lane located in Peachtree City prompted Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial to hold a public discussion with a roomful of Tyrone residents on October 26 to provide background and facts on the issue and to answer questions.
Council Members Gloria Furr and Billy Campbell also attended the meeting, along with Town Manager Brandon Perkins, Town Planner Phillip Trocquet, Finance Manager Sandy Beach, and Public Works Director/Town Engineer Scott Langford.
To begin the discussion, Dial said they began hearing grumblings in early September that the Kedron Hills Community Association (KHCA) had voted overwhelmingly to close access to Crabapple Lane and Loring Lane to vehicular traffic, the main street through the neighborhood, which intersects at the main entrance to the subdivision on Peachtree Parkway North. Closing Crabapple Lane at the city limits would also prevent access to the city’s multi-use path system. He continued that the KHCA then notified the City Council of Peachtree City of their desire.
“The issue is not on a Peachtree City agenda to this point,” Dial told the crowd who filled the Council Chambers in Tyrone Town Hall. There had been a lot of conversations, he continued, which were hard to have since the town did not know what the city was planning to do.
Dial noted there were people who had researched the issue well, and some of them were at the meeting. The town had spoken with members of Peachtree City’s Council and the Fayette County Board of Commissioners, as well as city and county staff, and citizens trying to get as much information as possible. There had also been many comments on Facebook about the issue, and Dial noted that not all the “facts” reported on Facebook were the right facts.
Dial reminded everyone that State Road 74 was owned and controlled by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT). Crabapple Lane, with the exception of the small portion located within the Peachtree City city limits was owned and maintained by Fayette County. One side of the gravel road was in the Tyrone town limits, and the other side was in unincorporated Fayette County. Per state law, the higher government entity was considered the owner in those situations.
Fayette County was interested in the issue, but the town was impacted more than the County, Dial continued. He noted that Commissioner Eric Maxwell stated at the October 14 Board of Commissioners meeting that he was opposed to closing the road. There were things Fayette County could do that Peachtree City might not like, but Dial did not elaborate on what that could entail. He also said his answers may be vague, and he would not quote anyone.
Dial verified that as of October 26, the title to the Crabapple Lane property had not passed from the city to the KHCA.
Another question was whether the city or the KHCA would close the road. Based on what he had read, Dial said the city also wanted to close the access to golf carts, but that might not be the feeling of all the city’s residents. Safety was the main reason for the road closure cited by KHCA.
When asked if the city could legally close the road, Perkins said it was, but it was rare when the road connected to other entities. He added that there was a process that had to be followed.
Another question concerned whether closing Crabapple Lane would leave the subdivision with only one entrance, and if emergency vehicles would have access to neighborhood via Crabapple Lane. Trocquet said it would. Tyrone requires a second entrance to subdivisions with more than 80 homes, and Fayette County requires two entrances for subdivisions with more than 100 homes. He did not know what Peachtree City’s requirements. Perkins added that he had seen a copy of the letter from the KHCA to its membership, and it said that emergency vehicles would be able to gain access via the gate that would block the road.
Dial said the KHCA was tired of traffic coming through the neighborhood to get to Peachtree Parkway. No one from Tyrone had been asked to discuss the issue. Peachtree City did have an issue with financing the maintenance of the path system. In trying to find a better way to finance the maintenance, the city had had increased the annual fees for out-of-city golf carts. The more golf carts that used the path system compounded the maintenance needs.
Many of the residents attending the meeting said golf cart access to Peachtree City was a quality of life issue for them. They used their golf carts to visit family in Peachtree City, spend money at Peachtree City businesses, take children to both public and private schools located in the city, and go to church, as well as attend events, play golf, and other activities.
Path access to Tyrone’s town center was briefly discussed since residents in the Dogwood Trail area do not have access to that part of town via golf cart. Perkins reported that the town had made more progress in the last few years than in the last 20 regarding its own path system. Tyrone’s millage rate was half of Peachtree City’s, and the funding came primarily from the 2017 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). The comprehensive plan identified areas in the town for paths, and the state did not allow cart paths along state highways.
Dial said the town’s priority in regard its path system was to get people to Tyrone businesses. They would like for people in Tyrone to get to Peachtree City and for people in Peachtree City to get to Tyrone.
One resident pointed out that Crabapple Lane predated Kedron Hills by 30 years and whether that could affect the road closure. Dial said the town attorney was addressing that issue, adding that it was presumptuous to close a road that had been there for decades.
One resident who said he had lived on Crabapple Lane for 40 years said he had watched the traffic on the gravel road, and the overwhelming majority came from Kedron Hills. It was mostly cars, trucks, and Amazon delivery trucks, not golf carts.
Some asked if any of Peachtree City’s businesses had been polled regarding the possible road closure, and there were volunteers who agreed to talk to business owners in the Kedron Village Shopping Center.
Two meeting attendees disagreed with Dial regarding the Peachtree City’s City Council consideration of the road closure on November 4, saying they had spoken with a member(s) of the City Council who told them it would be on the agenda for a vote. Neither identified the council member who provided that information. On October 27, Peachtree City Manager Jon Rorie verified the item was not on the November 4 agenda. The meeting agenda and packet should be published on Monday, November 1, after the newspaper’s deadline for this edition.