Peachtree City: Planning for 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.

Peachtree City: Planning for growth

Projections show that by 2040, Fayette County will grow from 111,000 residents to 143,000 residents. Fortunately, we have the Atlanta Regional Commission to assist Peachtree City in planning for growth. 

Using ARC’s $128,000 “Livable Communities Initiative” grant, PTC government is holding meetings to obtain input. TSW, a planning firm, is spearheading this LCIproject, which merely covers the Aberdeen Shopping Center, city hall, and “city center” areas, but that is not enough. PTC must coordinate with Fayette and Coweta Counties, as addressed below.

I’ve been an elected official (County Commission Chairman in Jasper County), Chair of the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia Tax Committee, and on the PTC Planning Commission. Local officials should make decisions based on quality of life, budgetary impact, and societal goals (diversity, equity). 

Some politicians substitute ideological considerations political contributions, relationships, pro-growth pre-conceptions, and anti-regulation philosophy. Biases have no place in planning/zoning. Voters must learn how/why their local officials make decisions.

Community input is vital to decision making. There was a citizen rebellion last April when the PTC Council was about to enact a local ordinance regulating freedom of speech (based on social media attacks). My advice was for the Council to communicate more effectively.

For example, Council’s City Center idea is a solution in search of a problem, reflecting lack of understanding regarding the nature of PTC. PTC currently consists of six villages, a reality seemingly ignored by some Council members. The innovative concept was to live, work, and play within each one. Residents don’t favor creating a City Center once the details are explained, including the location (near the Hwy 54-74 intersection) and addition of multi-family and cheaper single-family housing, hurting PTC’s tax base.

TSW has a questionable online PTC/LCI survey which appears biased towards adding smaller, less expensive dwellings, in line with the false “we need millennials” pre-conception. Per PTC Planning staff, new houses appraised at less than $320,000 cause taxes to go up. Although every new house impacts PTC’s tax base, TSW’s survey doesn’t include taxes. PTC has not directly, comprehensively surveyed all residents but must before pushing for changes unpopular with citizens.

Meanwhile, ARC’s 2018 Metro Atlanta Speaks surveyed Fayette County residents. They are less optimistic about future living conditions than other Metro residents (25 percent see improvements coming versus 29 in Metro). Further, of the survey’s many possible “problem areas,” the top three for Fayette are: crime (29 percent); transportation (22); and human services (9). In that PTC has Fayette County’s worst traffic problems and excellent local police, transportation likely would be ranked first here.

So, why is our City Council obsessed with the City Center concept, including increasing multi-family housing and congestion on Hwy 54? Instead, use the grant to look at potential alternate routes around PTC.

The intersection of Georgia Highways 54 and 74 is our traffic nightmare. Although we have a questionable $9 million DOT project adjusting traffic lanes, I suspect congestion will increase, and, because concrete walls are included in the project, PTC residents will be unhappy with the visual aspects. Further, say goodbye to the visionary “overpass above PTC” enabling cross town drivers to avoid the Hwy 54-74 intersection; the state will not fund it after the turn lane project.

Instead, why isn’t PTC focused on working jointly with Fayette and Coweta Counties regarding traffic, a major concern in all three? Frankly, much of the PTC traffic is due to non-residents. Fayette and Coweta County residents use Hwy 54 going to and from work, school, and shopping. These commuters are just as concerned about cross town traffic as PTC’s citizens, if not more so.

These three local governments need to stop working in silos. It’s past time from them to appoint a joint transportation committee. The Committee should consist of two Commissioners from each County and two from PTC. They should coordinate efforts, obtaining funding for practical solutions such as having alternate roadways around PTC, right now, before it’s too late.

Meanwhile, PTC’s Council should stop jamming the City Center down our throats. No one wants high density housing there, leading to more congestion on Hwy 54, near the Hwy 74 intersection.

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.