We are facing new challenges in the Atlanta region. Communities and local governments cannot operate as islands with the possibility of spill over impacts from traffic, land use or environmental issues. With growing fiscal challenges, energy concerns and aging baby-boomers to name a few issues, there is increased need for a concensus plan of action and vision.
PLAN 2040 is an Atlanta Regional Commission initiative to better link and integrate state, region and local government actions into a cohesive framework to guide our region’s growth. Taking actions and investments that are not connected to other agencies or organizations will not work in our current or future environment. A comprehensive, coordinated and cooperative process is needed to achieve a plan and program of actions that all local governments and citizens can support.
Planning can sometimes seem like a loose strategy to achieve an estimation of future needs and strategies. But, modern planning at both the local government and regional level is much more in many cities and regions in the U.S. Many regions including Atlanta are pushing the envelope and taking bold actions.
Planning should review issues and data to determine what is right and wrong today in our communities and region! Planning should than consider what actions and strategies are possible by elected officials, citizens and professional staff. Finally, it should lay out real strategies, infrastructure and actions to make change occur that will meet our future needs.
ARC is the regional planning and intergovernmental coordination agency, created by the local governments in the Atlanta region pursuant to legislation passed by the Georgia General Assembly. PLAN 2040 primarily addresses ARC’s responsibilities for comprehensive planning under state law as the designated Metropolitan Area Planning and Development Commission (MAPDC). As an area with population greater than 1,000,000 residents, ARC has authority under state laws as an MAPDC and a Regional Commission (RC), effective June 2009, as outlined by House Bill 1216 in 2008.
In addition to being the official planning agency under state law for the 10-county region, ARC is also the transportation planning agency for the Atlanta region under federal law as the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for an 18-county area. ARC provides planning staff to the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (MNGWPD), whose mission is to develop comprehensive regional and watershed-specific water resources plans for implementation by local governments. ARC also serves as the administrative agency for the Atlanta Regional Workforce Board (ARWB). Aging or senior services are provided by ARC as the Area Agency on Aging (AAA).
Most local governments in the Atlanta region have completed new state mandated Comprehensive Plans during the past three years. ARC’s regional plans seek to unify both regional and local growth policy as outlined in local governments Comprehensive Plans as well as Transportation Plans, Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) plan and other local policy.
ARC intends to develop PLAN 2040 as the next RDP and RTP in a unified development process that will integrate elements of regional plans, but also seek to integrate local planning as well as land use and transportation in an integrated manner. The required Assessment for the RDP and RTP to be completed in 2009, as well as forecasts and project prioritization, are anticipated to be linked between RDP and RTP. Other aspects of plan development including stakeholder involvement are being developed in a coordinated manner.
ARC as the designated MPO for transportation planning for all or parts of 18 counties must follow federal rules of the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users (SAFETEA-LU) and the Clean Air Act (CAA). Federal laws requires the MPO to develop a long-range transportation plan (RTP) and short-range transportation improvement program (TIP) that conform with the applicable State Implementation Plan (SIP) for air quality.
ARC must prepare and adopt a Regional Development Plan (RDP) pursuant to the Georgia Planning Act of 1989 and consistent with minimum standards and procedures for regional planning developed by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). During 2008, Georgia DCA adopted revisions to Chapter 110-12-6, Standards and Procedures for Regional Planning, “Regional Planning Requirements”. The regional plan seeks to anticipate and apply comprehensive approaches to accommodate economic and population growth that will occur in the Atlanta region during the next 25 years.
The Atlanta region faces tremendous challenges to manage growth. Only through a comprehensive and integrated process can the region maintain a healthy economy and quality of life, while meeting fiscal challenges and improving health and environmental conditions.
The Comprehensive Planning Department of ARC (Research, Land Use and Transportation Divisions) will lead the unified planning effort. The Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District (MNGWPD) is currently updating regionalwater plans. Guidance from these plans as well as other regional plans will be used to address comprehensive RDP and RTP issues.
Local government plans and regulations will be assessed and integrated to the degree possible with regional policy. Federal and state agencies, adjacent Regional Development Centers (RDC) and non-governmental organizations will be included in the process as appropriate.
The PLAN 2040 development process will begin with the adoption of a resolution in early 2009 by the ARC Board. The resolution will outline the general intent of the process, which will meet all state and federal rules for regional planning for both the RDP and RTP. The resolution is intended to be approved by the ARC Board in February 2009.
ARC will undertake an extensive planning process following the adoption of the Board resolution in February. The PLAN 2040 staff work program in 2008 will primarily focus on the Regional Assessment. The purpose of the Regional Assessment is to present a factual and conceptual foundation upon which the rest of the regional plan is built.
Preparation of the Regional Assessment is largely a staff or professional function of collecting and analyzing data and information about the region and presenting the results in a concise, easily understood format, such as an executive summary, for consideration by the public and decision-makers involved in subsequent development of PLAN 2040. The Regional Assessment will include the four required components: potential issues and opportunities; analysis of development patterns; analysis of consistency with state Quality Community Objectives and supporting analysis of data and information.
More information on ARC plans and programs is also available at www.atlantaregional.com.