Sunday, March 18, 2007

Out riding around

I've always considered myself an optimist. I enjoy life. I love the life I have here in Fayette County.

That said, I'm becoming pessimistic about the future of our county. According to some of my friends, I'm late coming to that way of thinking.

Yesterday (St. Patrick's Day) Greg & I went to the first ever St. Patrick's Day parade in Tyrone. It was great and I'd call it a huge success. Lots of reason for optimism when you see all those wonderful folks coming out to watch the parade, participate in the dog contest, and enjoy all the other events planned for the day.

After the parade we rode around a little. Later in the day we met some friends to go out to dinner and that entailed driving across the county, seeing a different area.

Every time I go out anymore I see signs that we're heading slowly, hopefully very very slowly, toward being just like all those counties that so many wanted to get away from. If we're not vigilant, we're going to be there sooner than most in this county would want.

It seems if there's an empty space someone is building. In Tyrone, a developer wanted to put eight houses to an acre right in the middle of town. It was turned down by a 2 to 1 vote when it came before the City Council! The Mayor lives next to the property and would benefit, so she recused herself. It came down to Mike Smola, Gloria Furr and Grace Caldwell to decide. Smola said yes, Furr and Caldwell said no.

In the late 1990's I went through Leadership Fayette. We split into groups and each did a "report" on a town in the county. I didn't have Tyrone, but I know all those who did and I heard their report. They surveyed a fairly good sampling of people living in the town, asking them what they wanted for their home city. They all wanted growth to bypass them. They wanted deer in the backyard. They wanted restaurants in Peachtree City close enough they could get to them but not in their quiet, friendly little town.

If you haven't been to Tyrone lately you have missed an explosion. There are some on the Council who are staying true to what the residents want, and others who seem to want the town to become a big city overnight.

It's not just Tyrone though. It's all across the County. Some can't be stopped due to legal considerations; some can't be stopped because of poor past planning or poor past decisions by those in government.

There is almost an inevitability to the path a city and a county takes. Especially if decisions are made looking at the short term instead of the long term. Especially if the people living in the county don't take the time to monitor their government.

The only way to stop our county from becoming like any other county in the metro area is for those who live here to get involved and fight to protect what we have. Unfortunately, realistically, most people are "NIMBY's" (Not In My Back Yard). Until something directly affects us, until some developer wants to put 8 houses to an acre on the spread next to ours, we wear blinders.

Take a ride around the county. Look at how growth is nibbling at the edges of many areas in the county. Once an area is rezoned, the one next to it can be changed... and then the next... and the next... If you like what we have, get involved now.

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