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Peachtree Corners makes first land purchase

PEACHTREE CORNERS -- In a city created last year with the intent of governing land use, officials are slated to make their first purchase, buying land to stop the development of apartments.

Peachtree Corners City Council voted unanimously Monday to purchase 20.6 acres across from The Forum on Peachtree Parkway. After winning a rezoning in a lawsuit more than a decade ago, developers with Lennar Construction had planned to break ground on more than 250 apartments there by the spring.

"All they had to do was file a building permit," Mayor Mike Mason said. "There was nothing you could say or do to stop it. ... The only thing we could do was buy it."

When voters formed the city of Peachtree Corners in Gwinnett's northwest corner, planning and zoning control was the No. 1 issue, and Mason said the council believed the purchase amounted to a quality of life issue since the city is close to a 50/50 split in rental property versus owner-occupied homes.

"We thought long and hard before we took this step," he said. "Apartments just don't belong right in the middle of that commercial area. ... This is about the highest and best use for a piece of property."

With contract negotiations under way, officials did not release the price but said the purchase would be made through a to-be-created downtown development authority. A 10-year bond is expected to be paid back with existing city revenues, Mason said, promising the purchase would not mean an increase in taxes.

Located in the heart of the community, city leaders are asking for the public's help in deciding what to do with it. A meeting was already scheduled for Thursday to help devise the city's comprehensive plan, and the property will be a key piece.

"It's a natural town center," Mason said, adding that a fountain or park would be nice in the midst of commercial development. But he stressed that the city does not intend to build a city hall there.

Mason said he had hoped to hold a referendum about the purchase, but the council decided to move quickly before the apartments were built or the cost of the land rose.

Comments

R 1 year, 10 months ago

Wow its Kernerly-lite Buy Baby Bye

Meet the new boss.... littler than the old boss.

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PCResident 1 year, 10 months ago

How did we go from Planning and Zoning Control and garbage management to land owners? There could not have been a worse way to garner attention on our newly formed city then to approve a land purchase with virtually no opportunity for citizen input prior to the approval for purchase.

I'll trust best intentions from the group and assume ignorance is bliss but the City's legal counsol sorely missed the boat on advising the group on proper due dliigence.

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wade 1 year, 10 months ago

Trust them. I spoke with Mayor Mason and the intent is to rezone it and sell it to an appropriate developer. Just don't know how long it will take. The bonds are to be callable once the property is sold. I'm just a concerned citizen as you are. I know Mike and I trust him. For now. There's nothing wrong with apartments, but that's not the place for residential of any kind.

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HonestIngine 1 year, 10 months ago

Well so much for all the honesty in local government. The citizens of PC were sold down the river by their representative Tom Rice, along with Lanette Howard, Mary Kay Murphy and Mike Mason. The bill of goods they sold the residents, being a "City Lite" has proven once again that they are continuing to lie to their constituents. They used the land across from the Forum as a reason to vote for cityhood, that they could control zoning etc.. They along with the No group knew it (the apartment zoning) could not be changed. Now the mayor says that this purchase(price to be determined) -since they set no limit, would not cause an increase in our taxes.. I have to call BS on that... The purchase may not cause an increase in our taxes. Are you kidding me? Now I heard a motion was made to amend the charter so the city council can make changes without a referendum. Another selling point that turns into more lies. The residents of Peachtree Corners need to beware of who you elect to run your city.

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norcrossdude 1 year, 10 months ago

This is precisely why many opposed the City Lite concept. "Zoning, Code Enforcement and Trash Collection" does NOT include "buying land and reselling it to meet the council's desires." The standard here should be 'no possible conflict of interest', not 'trust us.'

So if I understand correctly, to prevent a company from possibly building apartments on land zoned (by a judge) for this use ten years ago, the council decided, with no opportunity for public comment, to create an entity (as yet nonexistent) to buy the land (certainly at a price including enough profit to convince the builder to sell) and resell it to another company (chosen by the council) to ensure that the development meets the standards of the community (which have yet to be determined, but the council is asking for help in deciding what to do with it) To achieve this grand scheme, the City has decided (once again with no public input) to issue a ten year bond (with no referendum) and this will not cost the city residents

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norcrossdude 1 year, 10 months ago

So, let me get this straight....To prevent a builder from building apartments on a piece of land zoned for this use (by a judge, after a long, expensive court battle) the council has decided, in secret, ( that's what 'no public hearing' means) to issue a ten year bond to buy the land (at a price certainly including enough profit to entice the builder to sell instead of build) and resell it to another developer (yet to be chosen) to build 'something' that the council prefers (using a to-be-formed-later commission) that will be determined at some point in the future with the public's help (and will include a fountain or park). Oh, and it won't increase our taxes, because the original "City Lite" plan was inaccurate. What could possibly go wrong? Obviously no possiblility for corruption here!

And why doesn't Lennar just sell the property to a retail developer without the City in the middle? Wouldn't a promise to consider a retail/office/commercial rezoing achieve the same thing?

I'd be happy to broker the deal!

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HonestIngine 1 year, 10 months ago

What really amazes me is that the largest city in Gwinnett County, PC(approx 38k) residents and only 5 people voiced a comment to this article...

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norcrossdude 1 year, 10 months ago

No one knows about it..which is the point, I guess.

I only became aware of it because of an email town hall meeting passed along by my HOA. Which, interestingly enough will only be attended by three council members so they do not have to invite the media -subverting the intent of the GA Open Meetings Act, IMO.

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dav 1 year, 10 months ago

That sure didnt take long.City leaders are asking for the public's help in deciding what to do with it. Sounds familiar , lets buy and then ask for public input. If this city hasnt learned from watching the demise of the gwinnett co govt then they have a long road ahead of them

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