Monday, August 24, 2009

Whose Village Concept?

The 2009 election cycle is again moving forward. The qualifying period
is next week, so we will shortly know all running for all offices.

As regards my run for Mayor, State law mandates when I qualify my Post 1
Seat is automatically vacated. So, until a replacement is elected by the
voters there will only be four on Council, the majority of three plus
Doug Sturbaum. So, on those contentious votes it will be 3-1 instead of

Somehow the idea has gotten out to some we are just in the process of
annexing the Scarbrough property. That is false, it was annexed in 2007.
The Step 1 we recently voted on reduced the size of the annexation by
10' off the Tyrone side. If we had denied it the extra land would have
remained part of the property and it would still already be annexed.

The issue of unity is popping up again. We heard it in 2005 from the
current majority. What that turned out to mean was defined on the Dais
during a Council Meeting when the majority criticized the minority.
Plainly stated was we needed to forget our campaign promises, what was
said during the election, and get behind, support and promote the
majority position.

That is not unity, it is capitulation. On issues like building Big Boxes
and retail space you either support building them or you don't. I don't
support building Big Boxes at all or enabling more retail space to be
built when we have a glut now.

In my last Letter to the Editor I stated Scott Rowland had yet to take
any positions, thus was an unknown. That has not changed but I will add
he has a full time job so he simply does not have the time to meet the
demands of the office of Mayor. Mayors Lenox and Brown tried to fill
both hats at the same time and ended up either taking a leave of absence
or quiting their jobs. Logsdon has said the time demand was much greater
than he anticipated and Plunkett says she will leave her job because of
this reality. I am retired and an empty nester, which Plunkett is not.

I also stated Cyndi Plunkett would have to try to explain her voting
record. In a Fayette Neighbor July 9th news article it says, QUOTE: "Ms.
Plunkett said she would like to see several focus groups working
together to ensure that Peachtree City continues as a planned community,
something they are often criticized for." UNQUOTE

Such groups are appointed by the Mayor. As we have seen these groups
normally have a majority that agrees with the Mayor and are held up as
representing the will of all of Peachtree City. Do you want such groups
speaking for all of Peachtree City as regards taxes, Village Concept and
developments? Or, do you want to be consulted directly and then have
your Mayor make a decision he or she will stand behind as their own?

Further, there has been a lot of criticism of Plunkett for deviating
from the Peachtree City Plan and Vision. I believe her words confirm
that reality by her saying, QUOTE: "It's real nice to be able to say
'No, that doesn't work here because it doesn't fit our vision,' but it's
probably time to look at the vision and see where we want to be, and how
do we keep the things we have," said Ms. Plunkett. "The Village Plan
concept --- that's great --- but how do we continue it and make sure its
viable? UNQUOTE

Where has that been said to her? In the proposals to build Big Boxes in
an over sized shopping center and her attempts at negotiating a Callula
Hills plan she finds acceptable, as two examples.

Clearly Cyndi Plunkett is doing more than looking at the Village Concept
and Comprehensive and Land Use Plans, she is rewriting them.

If anyone doubts that look at her history on Council. Plunkett took
office in 2006 and CCD started talking about the 54 W commercial
development. A Task Force, which included the developer, was formed for
the development and Council added the Special Use Permit to the Big Box
ordinance to enable Big Box construction that otherwise was not allowed.
In 2007 CCD applied for a light and asked for the Line Creek streets to
be abandoned to further enable a Big Box development. The abandonment
was approved in 2008 by a 3-2 vote (Plunkett, Boone and Logsdon for,
Sturbaum and myself opposed). Then the Special Use Permit was approved
on the same 3-2 split. Next the light application was approved in 2009,
once again 3-2. Now add in the lifting of the Multi-Family Moratorium
and extra height to the Hilton on the same vote split again.

It is obvious the Village Concept as seen by the majority of citizens of
Peachtree City is not Plunkett's Village Concept. It sure does not fit
the accepted definition of Village Concept.

As well I have posted on the research findings from
cities, states and universities across the nation that show Big Boxes
and Super Super Shopping Centers, meaning over 150,000 sq', have greater
total infrastructure and service cost than income to a city. They
increase crime and traffic as well. Stores less than 32,000 sq' are the
money makers for a city with the smaller ones generating the most.
Shopping centers less than 150,000 sq' generate more as well. Many
cities are banning these Big Boxes and Shopping Centers and tearing down
what they have and redeveloping them. Plunkett rejects these studies.

Plunkett has proudly stated she has negotiated better developments on
issues appearing before Council for things like Big Boxes, extra size,
extra height and so forth. The problem is those issues appear before
Council because they cannot be built unless given permission by Council.
If unwanted you just vote no, you do not give the developer even more in
trade for something that should have always been a standard development

In that area I have pushed for changes in the ordinances to require
developments meet certain standards that should be the norm for
Peachtree City. I have succeeded in getting the Transition Yard
Ordinance in place, which increases the demands for berms, set backs,
and screening landscaping, in example, between homes and offices,
commercial and industrial. In work are increases in those areas between
street and developments, including buildings being deeper into the sites.

While in the area of green, I also have in work ordinances to require
developers be ready to build before breaking ground, keep sites clean if
there are delays in construction and restore them to green if the
development is abandoned after ground is broken.

Clearly, Cyndi Plunkett supports Big Box and Big Shopping Center

On budget issues in another article Plunkett called Fire and Police
amenities. Then she lumped them in with Recreation and said we need to
protect our amenities, with Recreation topping her list. For me Fire and
Police are essential services and Recreation is an amenity. Essential
services do not get cut, amenities can if absolutely needed to be, just
like a pool is nice at home but food, shelter and clothing come first.

Does that mean I want to reduce or am against Recreation as has been
claimed to a number of people? Absolutely not! As I have demonstrated I
have worked to run it more efficiently and cost effectively by pushing
to move to a better management structure at the Fred, Tennis Center and
Kedron Complex. Those savings total almost a million dollars a year.

As well I back the field sports. The Little League All Stars pin is on
my GMA lanyard and I have had my sunburn from watching games.

I have found and pushed for changes in Hotel/Motel Tax usage that would
allow about $250,000 more into the General Fund plus more flexibility
with the rest.

Plunkett also voted for rolling the dice on a third attempt to repair
the Police Station. I voted against it. That cost millions to return it
to size that was already known to be too small. Now it will cost a few
million more to enlarge it if it does not fail again.

Between those costs and alternative uses for or selling the existing
site we would have been well on our way to a new station that would have
been large enough to house Code Enforcement as well, which would have
taken some space pressures off of City Hall.

We are no longer a young and rapidly growing community. We are at build
out with increasing infrastructure and service costs due to age and
increasing crime, fire and EMS calls. The days of the big impact and
other development fees rolling in with low maintenance costs are over,
as our Finance Department has repeatedly stated. We have to realign our
priorities to meet and satisfy changing needs and realities.

So who decides budget issues is critical, especially with the potential
loss of over $3 million a year in SPLOST money.

If the SPLOST is defeated, as Mayor I will ask the citizens what they
want to do. Would it be a 1.5 mil increase in property tax next year if
we don't get the .255 this year or 1.25 if we do get it to only do path
and street maintenance? Or would it be stopping golf cart path and road
maintenance until the economy turns around?

What would Plunkett do?

In addition I took the Development Authority off the shelf, retasked it
and got it moving forward. Now it is pursuing recruitment and
improvements for Peachtree City that they can do by law, but City Hall
cannot. They are working hard on recruiting good employers, schools and
filling empty stores.

These are rough times and this election will set the future direction of
Peachtree City. Peachtree City needs a Mayor and Council that listens to
the citizens, is open and honest in return and dedicated to efficient
budget management while protecting the Comprehensive Plan, Land Use Plan
and Village Concept. I believe in the last two years I have proven I
meet this criterion. Cyndi Plunkett cannot make the same claim.

Please feel free to contact me for meetings, questions and more.

Don Haddix

Candidate for Mayor

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