Archive for February, 2011

ARC’s Livable Centers Initiative Awards $678,000 to 14 Communities

February 24, 2011

(ATLANTA – February 23, 2011) Through its award-winning Livable Centers Initiative (LCI), the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) is awarding 14 local governments a total of $678,000 in grants. The grants will help these communities to either create new quality growth plans in specific locations or to fund the implementation of a previously-awarded LCI study to enhance the livability of these areas.

 The recipients for grants to fund new LCI study areas are the City of Milton and Cobb County at $100,000 each.  Twelve other communities will receive various amounts of funding for supplemental studies that will help them further implement their existing LCI studies.

With this latest round of awards, ARC has assisted 109 communities with more than $142 million in planning and implementation grants to create more livable communities. These grants help local governments devise strategies that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by better connecting homes, shops and offices; enhancing streetscapes and pedestrian amenities; and improving access to transit options.

“LCI has helped communities across metro Atlanta re-tool and redesign over the years, creating more places that attract residents and businesses alike,” said Tad Leithead, ARC Chairman. “Our local government partners have used these grants to the benefit of their communities and the entire region.”

The LCI program is funded with federal transportation dollars. Once communities have completed their plans, they are eligible for a larger pot of federal funding to build the transportation projects required to see their plans realized.

Since the first LCI grants were awarded in 2000, more than 84,000 residential units, 20 million square feet of commercial space and 35 million square feet of office space are either planned, under construction or complete in these areas. Region-wide, 67 percent of all office space built since 2000 has been built within LCI areas. And, LCI areas have attracted 8.5 percent of all new residential units and 21 percent of all new commercial development built in the region.

“Communities are eager to revitalize their town centers and underutilized properties to create places that foster a neighborhood feel and environment,” said Dan Reuter, ARC’s Land Use Division Chief. “LCI grants have helped communities re-imagine what their communities can be and then helped them make those plans a reality.”

The 2011 LCI recipients are:

Hwy 9 Activity Center

Award Amount:            $100,000

Sponsor:                          City of Milton

This study will focus on the Highway 9-Windward Parkway Activity Center. A master plan that shows a holistic view of development and related transportation improvements that would increase connectivity with the surrounding neighborhoods is needed to guide future growth. The LCI study will help establish the vision for this area and determine the needed implementation actions, including appropriate land use and zoning changes. An LCI plan at this location will also serve as a catalyst for adjacent areas to follow the trend and foster changes that are consistent with LCI goals. The resulting effect is anticipated to formulate strategies to develop walkable, mixed-use nodes along the corridor with multimodal transportation options that link within the study and with neighboring communities.

Six Flags Activity Center

Award Amount:            $100,000

Sponsor:                          Cobb County

Due to its proximity to numerous regional assets, such as I-20, the Fulton County Airport, industrial employment centers, Six Flags Over Georgia and the Chattahoochee River, more intense development in the Six Flags area would be well-supported by an LCI study. The study area currently contains a mix of older residential and commercial uses that are not integrated and sometimes compete. The purpose of the study is to develop a master plan that includes multi-modal transportation options with existing and new land uses, including mixed-uses and compatibility among the various uses. The study will result in recommendations to improve the bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure, access to public transit and efficient freight movement in the area. Additionally, the study will provide guidance in the development of programs and incentives to induce sustainable development to meet the needs of future residents, employees and visitors.

 

Supplemental Studies

Sponsor Study Funding
City of College Park College Park Transit Oriented Development Plan $50,000
City of East Point Main Street Transit Oriented Development Plan $40,000
City of Hapeville Trails and Bicycle Feasibility Study $15,000
City of McDonough Town Square Connectivity and Implementation Plan $50,000
City of Sandy Springs 10 Year LCI Update $50,000
City of Stockbridge 10 Year LCI Update $50,000
DeKalb County Kensington Transit Oriented Development Plan $33,500
Gwinnett Place CID 10 Year LCI Update $50,000
Gwinnett Village CID Signage and Wayfinding Master Plan $20,000
Henry County I-75 Parallel Connector Feasibility Study $50,000
Midtown Alliance Greenprint Midtown $20,000
Perimeter CIDs Commuter Bike-Pedestrian System Feasibility Study $50,000

 

For more on ARC’s LCI program and a list of past recipients, visit www.atlantaregional.com/lci.

Mableton Adopts Form Based Code

February 23, 2011

“Mableton now has an official form-based code for its new redevelopment district. The Cobb Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the Mableton Form-Based Redevelopment Code at their Tuesday night meeting.

After holding the third and final public hearing on the nearly 70 code amendments, the board voted for the approval of the code. This new form-based code will allow for the creation of a town center area in Mableton that accommodates seniors and creates a sense of place.

For one week in June, citizens, property owners and business owners were invited to participate in the Mableton design charette, which consisted of 12 representatives from Duany Plater-Zyberk & Company, which Thompson called one of the best urban design and planning firms in the country, who met with Mableton community members for five small group meetings and six open house meetings. ”

Read the entire article here: http://southcobb.patch.com/articles/mableton-form-based-code-now-a-reality

Do Roads Pay For Themselves? Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding

February 14, 2011

A new report released by U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) disproves the common misperception that road-building is paid for by user fees, showing that gas taxes cover barely half the costs of building and maintaining roads, a fraction which is likely to fall steadily.

This year, Congress will again address funding for the nation’s Highway Trust Fund, which has been bailed out four times with $35 billion from general funds since 2008. Federal gas taxes have not increased since 1993 and revenues are expected to remain flat as Americans continue to drive less and use more fuel-efficient cars. (more…)

Land Use and School Locations

February 7, 2011

There was a time in our nation’s history when a majority of children were able to walk or ride bikes to school.  Similarly, the school building was a fundamental civic landmark in the community. And while there are some older communities that still enable younger residents to walk to school, this is no longer the norm, as schools have increasingly been built on the outer edges of communities where land is less expensive.

Consequently, the distance students travel to school has increased greatly. In 1969, 87 percent of students lived within one mile of their schools. By 2001, this number shrank to just 21 percent. In Georgia, it has been estimated that only six percent of elementary students, 11 percent of middle school students, and six percent of high school students could reasonably be expected to walk to school.

This shift has come at a price, according to research recently developed for The Civic League for Regional Atlanta by Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies. (more…)

Piece-by-Piece Regional Foreclosure Initiative

February 7, 2011

The Atlanta Regional Commission was a partner in kicking off a regional foreclosure initiative known as Piece by Piece on November 30, 2010.  Planned by a leadership team that includes the Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership (ANDP), the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC), CredAbility, Enterprise Community Partners, Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta, the Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association, The Home Depot Foundation, the National Housing Conference and NeighborWorks America, “Piece by Piece” is a coordinated effort designed to spur strategic action from the many regional stakeholders who care passionately about protecting the long-term future of our neighborhoods and communities.

More than 300 people were at the Carter Center kickoff event to learn about the severity of the foreclosure crisis in metro Atlanta, hear about best practices on a national and local level and engage with panelists, experts and other partners. Former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros delivered an inspiring keynote address that commended metro Atlanta for being the “first in the country” to tackle foreclosures with a coordinated, region-wide approach.  He warned that the problem is complex and the solutions are difficult, but he highlighted the region’s unique opportunity to be a national model for combating the crisis.

But now the real work begins.  (more…)

When is “Community” Not “Community”?

February 7, 2011

Renee Glover, CEO of the Atlanta Housing Authority since 1994, has been widely acknowledged for her approach to public housing reform and is recognized nationally as a pioneer of master-planned, mixed-finance, mixed-income residential development in the place of traditional public housing models.

On her blog spot, Lessons Learned, Ms. Glover writes about just that — the lessons learned working to build support and implement a more effective way of addressing the challenges of concentrated urban poverty.

She recently completed two articles – as part of a three-part series – that discuss the philosophy of building community, and the challenges experienced in reforming the traditional notion of housing the low income and homeless populations. (more…)

PLAN 2040 draft documents available on ARC’s website

February 7, 2011

The Atlanta Regional Commission now has several PLAN 2040 draft documents available for review and comment on the PLAN 2040 website.

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.  The PLAN 2040 development process began with the adoption of a resolution in early 2009 by the ARC Board outlining the general intent of the process, which will meet all state and federal rules for regional planning for both the Regional Development Plan and the Regional Transportation Plan.

ARC is the designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for transportation planning for all or parts of 18 counties. Federal law 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 also 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).

ARC is developing PLAN 2040 as the next RDP and RTP in a unified development process that integrates elements of regional plans, but also seeks to integrate local planning as well as land use and transportation in an integrated manner.

Once officially adopted, PLAN 2040 will be the metro Atlanta area’s plan to accommodate economic and population growth sustainably over the next 30 years.

The required Regional Assessment for the RDP and RTP was completed in 2009. This Assessment, which has been adopted by the ARC Board, is a report documenting the status of the Atlanta region.  It provides a picture of the issues we face today as well as a comprehensive evaluation of the region’s needs. This Assessment can be viewed on the ARC website.

To ensure that Plan 2040 reflects the full range of regional values and involves a diverse spectrum of stakeholders in its development, ARC adopted the Stakeholder Involvement Program. This program, which meets both the requirements of the State of Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), outlines a significant program of activities to facilitate broad input and support for regional goals, policies, actions, investments and programs.

Pursuant to DCA rules, ARC staff also completed, and the ARC Board adopted, the Regional Resource Plan. This plan is designed to enhance the focus on protection and management of important natural and cultural resources in the Atlanta region, provide for careful consideration of, and planning for, impacts of new development on these important resources and improve local, regional, and state level coordination in the protection and management of identified resources. The Regional Resource Plan can also be viewed on ARC’s PLAN 2040 website.

Since this time ARC staff has undertaken an exhaustive public involvement program, meeting with citizens, local staff and elected officials alike to garner their feedback and keep them informed on PLAN 2040 progress.

And in addition to these adopted documents, ARC staff has also recently completed drafts of additional components to the Regional Development Plan. These documents, which are described in more detail below, are all available for review and comment on the PLAN 2040 website – http://www.atlantaregional.com/transportation/plan-2040.

Unified Growth Policy Map and Regional Development Guide (draft available on website)

To accommodate the region’s anticipated growth in a sustainable fashion, the region must plan for a different type of development than it has seen in recent decades. The Regional Development Guide provides direction for future growth based on the Areas and Places of the Unified Growth Policy Map (UGPM). The UGPM represents local plans as well as PLAN 2040 policies and forecasts.

Local Government Standards (DRAFT available on website)

Georgia DCA rules require ARC to establish Minimum and Excellent standards for local government implementation of PLAN 2040.  Minimum Standards are activities essential to the implementation of PLAN 2040. Excellence Standards are activities that are desirable. These standards have been developed through several working sessions of ARC staff, the Land Use Coordinating Committee and the Transportation Coordinating Committee, as well as through feedback garnered from one-on-one meetings between ARC staff and county/city staff in the region.

PLAN 2040 Implementation Partners Document

In October 2010, ARC held seven meetings with non-governmental organizations and state agencies in order to brief these organizations on the status of PLAN 2040 and determine how and where the work programs of ARC and those in attendance may or could overlap, and therefore potential partnerships existed. The resulting document is intended to identify those regional partners, outline their purpose or mission, and “identify recommended activities that [they] may take to implement the regional plan.”

PLAN 2040 Implementation Program Document

This document is a comprehensive look at ARC’s implementation program. This document provides an overview of existing and possible new areas of work that ARC should consider in the upcoming 5 year period to meet some of the needs identified in PLAN 2040.

Staff will submit these documents to the ARC Board in February.  The documents will be submitted to DCA in March, upon which will begin a formal 60 day review and comment period.

PLAN 2040 will be officially adopted by the ARC Board during the July Board meeting.


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