Peachtree City rejects water park plan

Peachtree City officials late Thursday night rejected plans to build a massive water park resort.

Despite assurances from an executive of Great Wolf Lodge that the Madison, Wisc.-based water park resort chain would be a “good neighbor,” city council members denied the company's rezoning bid.

Alex Lombardo also told the crowd crammed into City Hall that the company has spent “significant amounts of money to tweak its proposed plan which calls for a resort that includes a hotel, eateries, arcade and an indoor water park. Great Wolf plans to spend $90 million to renovate the 38.4 acre site that has an existing conference center. He also noted that the company is “not requesting any incentives from the city at all.”

More than 200 people - many of them lining the walls and spilling into the City Hall lobby - listened as the company and city senior planner outlined details of the proposed resort in the heart of the city off Aberdeen Parkway.

Great Wolf wants the city to rezone the land from general commercial to limited use commercial to accomodate changes they want to make to the height of the main building and to allow the water slides to encroach into the 75-foot buffer zone by about 25 feet.

Great Wolf’s plans has touched off a firestorm of protest against what some see as runaway growth in a city that broke ground as a planned community of self-contained villages.

A few hours before, some 100 Peachtree City residents gathered in golf carts and cars in a shopping center parking lot Thursday afternoon ready to take on the Great Wolf.

The group is part of what’s becoming a growing movement in the planned-community to curtail what some residents say has become runaway growth. Tonight they’re taking on North America’s largest chain of water park resorts. Great Wolf Lodge wants to turn a conference center on 38.4 acre off Aberdeen Parkway into a resort with a hotel, eateries, arcade and an indoor water park. But the proposed project is surrounded by subdivisions of homeowners who say the resort would encroach on their privacy, bring traffic and drive down the value of their homes.

“I’ve lived here 34 years and it’s changed enough. We’ve grown enough. We have enough traffic. No more. We live in a bubble,” said Melody Grimes who stood in the rain holding a sign that said “Who’s Afraid of the Big Bad Wolf? We are!” In the background, a DJ spun “protest records” such as “Little Red Riding Hood” by Sam The Sham and the Pharoahs, and Twisted Sisters’ “We’re not Going To Take It.” Organizers handed out stickers of a howling wolf with a line drawn through it. Some two dozen golf carts lined the parking lot for the procession that will start in a little while to the City Hall where city council will decide whether to grant Great Wolf a rezoning request.

If Great Wolf gets its way, the water park resort will bring about 500,000 people annually to Peachtree City, create 770 jobs and generate about a million a year for the city, just from hotel taxes.

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