PEACHTREE CITY, Ga. — A contentious battle continues over whether to close a golf cart cut-through between two cities in Fayette County.
One neighborhood wants it closed, citing safety concerns. Another community wants it open, arguing it’s their only access point.
Evan Huelfer’s daughter, Lily, drives the cart path every day from her house in Tyrone to the Kroger Shopping Center in Peachtree City.
“It takes her probably about ten minutes via golf cart,” Huelfer said.
On the autism spectrum at age 20, she doesn’t drive a car, but she can manage a golf cart to get to her job at the grocery store.
“It has been extremely beneficial to her confidence, her independence, her self-reliance,” he said.
The argument lies with a section of dirt road called Crabapple Lane that connects the town of Tyrone to the Peachtree City cart paths through a neighborhood called Kedron Hills on the other side.
The Peachtree City Council closed the road to cars in December because of safety concerns and complaints from Kedron Hills residents. Now, orange barricades and a half-wall block the entrance into the neighborhood, leaving only enough space for a small golf cart to squeeze through.
But, Kedron Hills neighbors want the cut-through closed off to the 30-or-so golf carts that come through each day, too.
“The question is when this should be closed, not whether, but when,” one resident said at the most recent council meeting.
After a November 2021 council meeting, that was the plan. The Peachtree City Council voted unanimously to close the gap in the half-wall and shut off the cut-through entirely by June 1, 2022. But, earlier this week at the May 17 meeting, the council voted to extend the deadline to December to give the town of Tyrone time to come up with another solution.
Scott Beamer, HOA President for Kedron Hills, spoke at the council meeting, saying, “Why are we having this conversation? We live in Peachtree City. We’re the taxpayers. We’re the residents. We’ve seen kids almost get run over by cars . . . and tonight the Peachtree City Council is trying to manage Tyrone’s problem. It’s not our problem. We had a solution.”
People who live outside of Peachtree City, like Huelfer, pay an extra fee to access Peachtree City’s extensive golf cart paths. It’s a $235 fee in addition to the required $15 golf-cart license.
Huelfer, who chose his home based on the current cart access, thinks the path should stay open until there’s another way to get through.
“That is the only access point,” he said. “For some it’s a matter of inconvenience. For us, it’s really devastating if that were to be closed.”
Tyrone Mayor Eric Dial said he’s working on creating another cart path, but because of budget constraints and property ownership for right-of-way, it’s trickier than it seems.
He also spoke at the meeting to answer Peachtree City Council members’ questions, some of which came across as hostile.
“I have spoken with a developer. We’ve talked numbers. We’ve talked routes. I’ve spoken with [Dogwood] church. We have to be able to get through the church to make this happen,” Dial said.
A previous plan to create a path down Dogwood Road stalled after the city determined it would require a costly bridge and a chunk of Tyrone’s budget.
“We were looking at somewhere between $800,000 and $1.2 million. We don’t have that much budgeted for our entire cart path system this year, so that’s out of the question,” Mayor Dial said.
Several more Kedron Hills residents spoke at the meeting, many admitting with the cars gone, the safety concerns have been largely addressed.
“My children finally feel safe because cars are no longer an issue,” said one woman who lives on the street where the access point enters the neighborhood.
Still, she and others want to restrict golf carts from coming through over fears of future development.
“There are acres down Dogwood that will eventually be developed. It will become a safety issue again eventually. When it gets to more development, then we’re really going to have a fight on our hands,” she said.
After all the public comments, Peachtree City Council voted 4-1 to keep the path open until December with a warning to the next town’s mayor to bring “concrete proof” that the city is working on another solution by that time.
Dial sent 11Alive a statement in response to the decision that says, “We appreciate the willingness of Peachtree City Council to hear our concerns and work with us on a solution that can benefit all parties. Because of the variable characteristics of the development of multi-use paths and the associated costs, we are presented with challenges, but we will do the best we can to get a path constructed in a reasonable time frame.”
Peachtree City Mayor Kim Learnard told 11Alive that if Mayor Dial brings the council concrete proof in December, the path will continue to stay open until the project is done. If not, the current cut-through will close.