Robinson Road greenbelt variance denied

by Steena Hymes

Peachtree City City Council met Thursday evening at City Hall to address several issues, including a public hearing to decide on a variance request affecting Robinson Road.
The council considered, and subsequently denied, a variance request submitted by Zenco Development Inc. seeking to provide a 25-foot landscape buffer in the place of the 50-foot greenbelt adjacent to Robinson Road at lots 414, 422, 424, and 426.
Over a dozen of homeowners living adjacent to Robinson Road appeared before the council and expressed their opposition to the variance.
Residents Pam Kemp and Kevin Dwyer took the lead at the meeting presenting an argument for why the council should deny the variance.
“Robinson Road is one of the best functioning roadways in Peachtree City because of the greenbelt,” Kemp said during the hearing, adding that approving the variance would open the door for future variances that would affect any possible future development along Robinson Road.
Dwyer, who lives alongside the properties, said his property receives stormwater and adding a landscape buffer would only increase the water flow and flooding into his yard and his neighbors’ yards.
Several other citizens opposed the variance citing safety concerns, previous ordinances, and hardships on the area homeowners. One citizen submitted 30 written statements by Robinson Road area residents voicing their opposition.
In support of the variance, Gary Lawson, a representative of Zenco, said denying the variance would hinder the constitutional right of the builder to use and enjoy the property. He added that the variance was previously approved by the city and the development of and money invested into the lots were based on that approval.
In his application for a formal request, Karl Franzen of Zenco stated that the variance would reduce the 50-foot greenbelt currently placed on the four lots and be changed to a 25-foot landscape buffer “due to the limited depth of the building lines required on each one of the lots.” Franzen continued in the written application that approving the request would involve clearing all the trees currently sitting on the space and enhancing the “drainage, functionality and curb appeal to the property.” The landscape package would have included at least eight two-inch trees planted along the cart path on the property.
The letter states that denying the variance would make the four lots “non-buildable.”
After the council’s fast decision to deny the motion, Kemp and Dwyer celebrated he win.
“I think it’s a good day for Peachtree City when the ordinances we moved here for are enforced,” Kemp said.
Dwyer said the success comes after three months of work he and Kemp put into building a case against the variance.
Steve Brown, County Commissioner, also attended the hearing supporting those opposing the variance.
Brown addressed the council and urged them to recognize the city ordinances.
“Variance should only be the extreme exception,” he said.
Further, he went on to praise the residents that came out to fight the variance.
“I have never been more proud to live in a place anywhere than I have than Peachtree City, [with] intelligent people who will fight and fight and fight and keep coming to meetings and stand up for what they believe in,” Brown said.
After the ruling, Brown said the city “got a good lesson in how to do variances.”
Before denying the motion, Councilman Eric Imker said an email was received from the applicant ratifying his constitutional right to sue the city if the variance isn’t approved.
“I’m willing to stand behind the 35,000 citizens of this residence and stand up to a lawsuit and pay the price and ultimately win this one,” he said.
Mayor Vanessa Fleisch excused herself from the hearing due to her affiliation with Keller Williams Realty. Councilman Mike King was absent from the meeting.