Everybody wants the economy to do well and keep growing. It means more jobs and more pay. But with growth comes problems, especially when growth happens rapidly. Metro Atlanta has been growing rapidly for years, decades actually. Population has increased about 1 Million per decade over the last 20 years and the pace is predicted to continue for the next two or three decades. 100,000 additional people in Metro Atlanta every year. No wonder traffic gets worse and infrastructure lags behind.
Recently, I have posted about new projects planned for Canton in Cherokee County. Russ Sims, director of planning and forecasting for the Cherokee County School District, said “there are more than 2,300 houses in the county that are ready to be occupied, more than 5,100 lots prepped for construction and more than 13,100 undeveloped lots in neighborhoods where construction is underway. There also are more than 12,600 lots that are zoned for houses, but not yet under construction.”
Sims added, “the school district is predicting both the county population and the student population will double by 2014.” Wow – double the population in only 8 years?
The school district is asking dvelopers to set aside land for new schools. By law, developers do not have donate any land to schools districts. “All we can do is beg vehemently,” Sims said. If developers don’t help out, then tax payers would have to finance the purchase of land for new schools. Macauley Companies, developers for one of the larger proposed devleopments in Cherokee County has said, “We are absolutely committed to providing enough schools for that area.” The question is what is enough?
All of this comes back to the same problem…growth creates strain on infrastructure such as roads and sewer lines, plus school districts and traffic problems. There is no stopping this growth and ignoring this fact will only make things worse. The best solutions I have read about and studied seem to point towards Higher-Density Development.
The executive director of the Urban Land’s Institute’s Atlanta chapter, Jeff DuFresne, said “When you look at the problems facing Atlanta – air quality, water quality, and traffic – the real challenge is the attitude toward change. People just see red when it comes to higher-density development, even though it may take cars off the street, use less land, improve the local tax base, and give mixed-use and housing options to residents. It can save taxpayers money.”