Growth has its challenges, but is a positive community force

In September, I was asked to serve on the Metro Atlanta Quality Growth Initiative Task Force… wait a minute before you say “Oh NO, not another growth committee that goes nowhere!” Forty-two people were asked to serve on this task force, and all 42 replied “YES.”

This task force has a six month period to develop a plan of action. I agreed to serve because of 1) the opportunity to learn from these folks who have been dealing with growth issues for a long time and 2) the opportunity to make connections with people who are involved in quality development and are “thinking outside of the box.”

The Metro Atlanta Quality Growth Initiative Task Force is comprised of business leaders, environmentalists, local and state politicians. The chairman is Tom Bell, President of Cousins Properties – Georgia’s premier company in smart growth developments.

The unspoken mission is to bring together Metro Atlanta’s jumble of planning boards and initiatives and move forward with a few projects that will make a difference in growth initiatives.


1 – The Metro region’s rapid growth is straining existing resources and threatens quality of life.

2 – There are tangible benefits to coordinating growth and supporting this growth with appropriate infrastructure investments.

3 – A projected 40% increase in population in the region over the next 25 years presents serious issues that must be addressed.

Bringing it down to everyday terms – traffic and sprawl in metro Atlanta must be fixed! We need to grow smart, think mass-transit and mixed-use development. We must think about living, working and playing centers.

None of these issues or problems can be repaired until everyone works together as a region. This task force has the best shot at moving forward with a few initiatives to make a difference.

There are hard choices to made in the next few months in order to identify regional goals and objectives and prepare an action plan. This task force is NOT an attempt to create a new land use “super-agency.” It is NOT an attempt to wrestle land use powers or responsibility from local governments. It is NOT an effort to “master plan” the region.

Six growth strategies are being discussed and will be narrowed down by group consensus:

1 – Increase density and mix of land used in targeted areas like centers and transportation corridors.

2 – Increase variety of housing choices for individuals and families of diverse incomes, lifestyles and age groups.

3 – Create an expanded regional network of greenspace that connects across jurisdictional boundaries.

4 – Increase opportunities for redevelopment of under-utilized or blighted areas.

5 – Diversify greenfield development to provide greater variety and options beyond low-density, single use.

6 – Identify and promote the creation of new activity and employment centers.

DOES ALL THIS SOUND SOMEWHAT FAMILIAR ? We are talking about the same things within our own Hall County with the Comprehensive Land Use Plan, transportation corridors, SPLOST V for infrastructure, and economic development.

I am learning a great deal and will keep you informed. Growth has its challenges, but is a positive force in our community. We already know that we live in the best place in the world, and that is why so many folks want to move here and live, too.

Let’s just be sure that we really do maintain our wonderful quality of life in Gainesville and Hall County… the best place to live, to work, to play… and to stay!!!!