The City of Peachtree Corners announced Monday night (Feb. 19, 2013) during a Special Called meeting that it intends to purchase the 20+ undeveloped acres located across from The Forum.
The land was slated to be developed into a 250+ apartment complex. To stop that development, which city leaders and many residents did not want, the City of Peachtree Corners will purchase the property.
Below are 11 questions with answers to the purchase, and what ultimately will happen to the tract of land many know as "Robert Property."
Q. Why did the City purchase this land?
A. We have the responsibility for protecting the quality of life in Peachtree Corners. This includes safeguarding property values, promoting school standings, as we are able, and ensuring community safety. Peachtree Corners’ is currently at the 50/50 tipping point of single family vs. multi-family housing. The Council feels it is our duty to keep the community’s housing balanced in order to protect property values.
Q. How will the City pay for this acquisition?
A. A 10 year bond.
Q. Will my millage rate go up?
Q. How can we afford it without increasing the millage rate?
A. The Carl Vinson Feasibility Study did not include all sources of funding for the City, such as business license fees, insurance franchise fees, and commercial trash fees. These fees, which originally went to the County and now properly go to the City, will enable us to finance the purchase without increasing homeowner property taxes.
Q. Did the City meet with the new owner in hopes of changing the nature of the development or minimizing the density of the intended multi-family development?
A. Yes. There were numerous meetings to persuade Lennar to develop a project in keeping with the surrounding area. All options to stop this development were exhausted before the Council voted unanimously to proceed with this purchase.
Q. Why is the 20.6 acres zoned for apartments anyway?
A. In 1998 (prior to Peachtree Corners incorporation), the former owner of the property filed a rezoning request for RM-13/apartments with Gwinnett County. In February 1999, the request was denied by the Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners.
The applicant then filed a suit against Gwinnett County seeking the apartment zoning. On Oct. 22, 2001, a consent order was issued by the US District Court for the Northern District of Georgia mandating that the property be rezoned RM-13 specifically for apartments. The community never had a say in this final decision.
Q. Why wasn’t this presented as a referendum?
A. Simply put, there was not enough time for that to occur. The first feasible date for a referendum would have been November of 2013. The developer’s intention was to break ground for the apartments in May. It became a timing issue that had to be addressed immediately.
Q. What does the City plan to do with the new land?
A. We will solicit community input thru the Comprehensive Plan process, which is currently underway. The Comprehensive Plan process is designed to help set the vision for the City in 2033. The timing could not be better for consideration of this land but in the context of our shared vision of the future.
Q. What’s next?
A. We will create a separate entity called a Downtown Development Authority (DDA) to acquire the property. The DDA will be led by a citizen panel and charged with the ultimate disposition of this property thru a public bidding process.
Q. What is a Downtown Development Authority (DDA)?
A. DDA’s are used in cities throughout the state as a mechanism to revitalize or develop municipal central business districts. They are invaluable in a city’s success and are used in Duluth, Lawrenceville, Norcross, and Lawrenceville, just to name a few.
Q. Can I be involved with the future vision for this property?
A. Absolutely! As with other citizen committees, we encourage everyone in the community to contact their council member.
Also, there are three upcoming meetings for the City’s Comprehensive Plan: February 21, 7:00-8:30 PM at City Hall. April 24-25 and July 25 (details TBD)
Editor's note: There is quite a bit of information on the city's Comprehensive Plan posted on the city's website. Also, be sure to take the survey so you can add your input on the future of Peachtree Corners. peachtreecornersplan.blogspot.com