By Pat Cooper
The discussion wrapped around the annexation of 28 acres on Peachtree City’s east side became wrapped up in a conversation about the city’s future land use plan.
On Thursday, the Peachtree City council sent a county resident who was seeking annexation back to the drawing board before they would even consider the subject.
Owner representative Jerry Peterson of Peterson Planning told council that, in the last few days, they had pulled together a sketch to give the council a better idea of what could be planned for the area.
“I felt there were some important reasons why this should be considered for annexation. I felt it wasn’t really planned out and this would give a better feel for it.”
The property, he noted, has been in the Bradshaw family for several generations so it’s not a new investment and the reason the Bradshaw family brought the subject of annexation to the council was because the city was already looking at annexing seven acres slightly east of the plat under discussion. The area is still completely undeveloped and zoned under Fayette County’s zoning.
“It gives us an opportunity to use some creativity and making it something more Peachtree City-oriented.”
The front of the property is located on the north side of Highway 54 East, approximately 1600 feet from the present city limits. It is also bounded by Sumner road on the west and north side of the property.
Both tracts are contiguous to the Peachtree City limits along Sumner Road.
In December, the council gave Foot Pain, LLC, permission to begin the annexation application process for its 4.398 acre tract on Hwy. 54, near Sumner Road. The recently completed 46,000 square-foot building and parking area is currently within the unincorporated county and is zoned Community-Commercial and designated as COM Commercial on the county’s land use map. Then, the Planning Commission asked property owner Chuck Ogletree to see if he could get some of the surrounding tracts’ owners to join in the annexation process to create a larger tract of land. Ogletree came back to the council successful on several more plats, ratcheting up the annexation property size to 7.36 acres.
There are three small parcels between the Bradshaw property and the property already being considered for annexation.
“I think there’s a lot of good potential for this land.”
Peterson said another important aspect for the city to consider was the long-planned northeast connector road.
“It was to connect from Hwy. 54 around the northeast part of city, around and up to Dogwood Trail eventually. As it came down here it was going to come down to Sumner Road, with the median access at Publix, but the people on Sumner Road were really not happy about it and I think this project gives us another option for it. It could also give the city a nice highway marker on this side of the city and it could also give you access to the parcels in there rather than individual curb cuts along the highway.”
Peterson’s plan showed a variety of use possibilities, with two small retail parcels at frontage, and an office parcel off that, with a large buffer to screen Sumner Road residents from the view. On the north side, the plan shows residential housing, similar to the city’s North Cove area.
Mayor Don Haddix said he had talked to Scott Bradshaw and had suggested he bring the parcel in at agricultural (AG) zoning.
“I really have no idea what he wants to build here. I can’t support this with no site plan. The last thing we need to be doing is building more commercial property.”
“I thought they were going to come in with a recommendation to bring in a hotel there, with Pinewood Studios going in just down the road,” said councilman Eric Imker. He wanted an estimate of the cost to the city in staff time to consider Phase One.
Also, councilman George Dienhart wanted to know when the council could expect to talk to other property owners in the area.
“I really don’t want to consider this area piecemeal.”
While the discussion was ongoing, city manager Dr. Jim Pennington pointed out that this was leading right into a discussion the city needed to have about their annexation process and the future land use plan for the city. He pointed out that one of the problems with the current system, was it didn’t give the city the ability to make contact with land owners so they don’t have the ability to do long-range planning for where the city is going.
“We’re in reactive mode. This is a significant issue and there will be more to come. We don’t know what’s going to be developed so we don’t have a plan in place for it. I’d like for us to get out of that mode.”
Pennington said the city needed to ask where it was going and did it want growth boundaries for the city, particularly to the east and north of the city.
“We need to proceed with a long range projection and bring it back to the council. I’m talking about controlling the environment that affects us as a city.”
Haddix said the annexation request was ‘putting the cart before the horse’ without a site plan.
“I don’t see how we can evaluate something when we have no clue what he desires to build. I don’t like guessing game.”
He said he urged Bradshaw to come in at the AG zoning, especially since he was told that it could be three years or more, if not his daughter’s generation, before the property would be developed.
“The property without a plan,” said Pennington, “would be fine if it comes in AG. We know we’re going to move in that direction and this would be putting that property into a holding pattern. We know that, in the future, something is going to be put there.”
Peterson said that was the reason he drafted the plan he had.
“What you’re talking about, that’s what phase two is for.”
“You basically are asking us to give you a blank check - blackboard. I don’t support commercial in that area at all.”
Peterson pointed out that putting homes on a four lane highway isn’t a good idea either, which Dienhart agreed with.
“I want control over that land so we don’t wind up with something that’s a higher density than what we want in Peachtree City.”
Imker wanted to see what residents bordering the area wanted to see there.
“Let’s do one step at a time.”
Ultimately, the council voted to deny the annexation.
“Please, tell Mr. Bradshaw we are very interested in his property,” Haddix told Peterson, “but we have to do it right.”