If it seems like planning is always on the City Council’s mind, that’s because it is. The five-year anniversary of Peachtree Corners on July 1, 2017, means it is time for the city to update its comprehensive plan. “The state of Georgia requires cities to have a comprehensive plan. It’s supposed to be done every 10 years from scratch. And every five years we have to update it,” explained Brian Johnson, city manager.
As one of the first items to be addressed in the October Work Session, Senior Principal Planner at the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) Jon Tuley gave a brief presentation regarding plan creation. He explained that Georgia recently updated its rules to encourage regional commissions to develop comprehensive plans at no extra charge. “The way the Atlanta Regional Commission is funded is through several things. There are some federal funds. There are some state funds. Then there are member dues from each of the counties. Gwinnett County pays dues on behalf of the city and all of that funding goes into providing support to all of our communities. So a lot of the work we’re already doing has already been paid for,” said Tuley.
To begin developing the plan, Tuley proposed that the ARC would collect data about what residents like and don’t like, what citizens believe the city should focus on, and more, through open houses and surveys. This information would be used to draft the plan during the summer of 2018.
Continuing the planning theme, Economic Development Specialist Jennifer Howard shared research the city collected one year ago from businesses regarding economic growth. A few notable concerns the 259 businesses and 10 large-scale employers addressed were:
- traffic/public transportation
- aging buildings
- and a lack of apparent city boundaries
To tackle these issues, a proposed Economic Development Plan would involve a public relations campaign aimed at businesses, and efforts to reduce traffic, create a retention program, and increase business engagement.
Managing traffic and establishing more effective means of public transportation was a hotly contested topic among the council members. “I want to focus the discussion on something we can really do in the short term,” said Alex Wright, City Council Post 3. The conversation revolved around solutions such as creating a dedicated bus lane, developing a heavy rail, and relocating bus stops. Weare Gratwick, City Council Post 6, added, “A lot of this is us working in a vacuum. This is a regional issue. So we need to be at the table when there’s conversations about dedicated bus lanes and making sure we’ve got access to more of them.”
In other business Monday, the council noted:
- Proposed zoning code amendments will be brought to the Planning Commission in the upcoming week. These will cover accessory structure size limitations, variances for commercial properties, creating a separate group for fowl and removing them from the livestock category, and sign ordinances.
Update and clarification: The distinction would be made to decrease the amount of acreage (a proposed five acres) needed to have fowl. Livestock is currently only allowed in the R100 district (single family residential) on property that is at least eight acres in size.
- The council will hear bids for more sidewalk and pedestrian crosswalk projects in the coming weeks.
- Public Works Director Greg Ramsey shared that 1,300 cubic yards of debris were collected in five days by the city after Hurricane Irma. He also addressed the concern that residents tend to report issues to the city via the website and mobile application Nextdoor (which has parts the city cannot access), versus the Peachtree Corners Fix-It web page and application.
- Ramsey also notified the council that the city has “57 miles that don’t have sewer,” and use septic tanks, which poses a public health risk. He stated that it is time to begin thinking about alternatives, which can be costly.
Editor’s Note: You can find the Comprehensive Plan 2013 here.