Developer: New Hwy. 54W light necessary ‘to get quality tenants’
One of the reasons the Peachtree City Council tabled voting on a request for a new traffic light on Ga. Highway 54 West last week was due to a lack of familiarity with the traffic study presented by Trinity Development.
A vote on the traffic light is slated to happen at the Feb. 20 council meeting, but council did provide some enlightening input on the proposal last week.
Councilwoman Kim Learnard expressed regret about voting against a plan for The Overlook site several years ago which would have provided a much nicer shopping center for the city. Learnard said she voted against it because of the concerns over the traffic light.
“We are also asking ourselves ‘If not this, then what?’” Learnard said. “We forgot to ask ourselves that years ago.”
Trinity representative Jim Lowe said Thursday that national retailers are lined up for each store on the site plan for the 81,000 sq. ft. shopping center, but he declined to publicly reveal which companies had signed on. One is a grocery store, Lowe said.
“We are doing what the city asked us to do: get quality tenants,” Lowe said. “... Our tenants have asked that we have a signal here.”
As for the outparcel along Ga. Highway 54 that was previously considered for a new Chick-fil-A restaurant, Lowe said he was hopeful that Chick-fil-A is still coming to the site, but if not there are several fast food restaurants “lined up” to could go there. A Chick-fil-A representative told The Citizen last week that the company is passing on The Overlook site but is looking at other areas in Peachtree City to open a new location.
Trinity representatives said their traffic analysis shows the traffic volumes on Hwy. 54 show a traffic light is necessary for their development. However, it was pointed out that the proposed light is too close to existing traffic lights, as state regulations require at least 1,000 feet between lights.
Regardless of council’s decision, the final say on the traffic light rests with the Georgia Department of Transportation, officials have said.
Though the matter was ultimately tabled, Councilman Eric Imker said, “It doesn’t make common sense to add another light on 54.”
“There are already too many lights there ... adding another light will make it worse. It just doesn’t make sense,” Imker said.
When MacDuff Parkway is extended to Ga. Highway 74 North, it will alleviate some of the traffic problems on Hwy. 54 West, Imker noted.
New councilman Terry Ernst said he needed more time to study the information before coming to a decision.
“If we say no, the state can still say yes, it is their final decision; that’s also something to think about,” Ernst said.
Mayor Vanessa Fleisch indicated that traffic safety was one of her concerns about the development, as she had already seen some “near misses” at Line Creek Drive and Hwy. 54.
Another factor in play is that the city is expecting soon to have the results of a corridor study conducted along Hwy. 54 from MacDuff Parkway to Willowbend Road. That study is expected to make recommendations on how to improve traffic including extra capacity to handle the sheer volume of cars commuting between Peachtree City and Coweta County.
In addition to the new traffic light on Hwy. 54 at Line Creek Drive, Trinity also wants a road connection through a city greenbelt so The Overlook shopping center can connect to Planterra Way; that connection was also tabled. There was some support on council for making it a left-turn only so the vehicles could not head south through the Planterra Ridge subdivision.
Lowe said the national companies that want to locate at The Overlook have said they need that road connection to Planterra Way.
The connection was opposed by a number of residents due to the problems the Planterra Ridge subdivision already has with cut-through traffic. Those cars back up substantially from the existing traffic light as nearly all are turning left to go towards Coweta County, and it causes delays of up to 10 minutes or more, several residents said.
Adding a new traffic light at Hwy. 54 and Line Creek Drive will only make that tie-up worse, several Planterra residents said.
The latest site plan for The Overlook also eliminated a previously-proposed road connection to The Shoppes at MacDuff, though there was sentiment on council and among the public that such a connection should be part of the plan.