Archive for October, 2011

ARC Now Accepting 2012 LCI Applications

October 27, 2011

ARC is now accepting applications for 2012 Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) studies. All applications must be received at ARC by Friday, December 16, 2011. The application and supporting information are available for download on the ARC web site at http://www.atlantaregional.com/lci.

Applicants should review all application instructions closely as requirements have changed from previous years. ARC also encourages applicants to discuss their proposed applications with ARC Land Use Division staff prior to submission. Recipients are expected to be announced in March 2012.

Since its inception, the LCI program has been a significant initiative to support regional plan implementation at the local level by providing funds directly to communities to prepare studies with local relevance while achieving regional impact. The evolution of the LCI program in PLAN 2040 provides more local flexibility but creates an even stronger link to regional plan implementation. In addition, ARC staff has received positive feedback for continued planning and implementation assistance in existing LCI communities. Therefore, the agency has committed at least 50 percent of LCI study funds to supporting existing LCI communities this year. While many communities have an excellent record of LCI implementation, it is clear that additional assistance is needed to further the efforts of local governments and CIDs/non-profits in existing LCI areas.

ARC will accept 2012 LCI study application requests in one of the three program areas below:

• New LCI study areas
• LCI Supplemental Studies
• PLAN 2040 LCI Innovation

These program areas are described more fully in the application package. Applicants should choose one of the three program areas and pay particular attention to the specific application requirements for that category.

Over the past 12 years, the LCI program has spurred cities, counties and communities of all sizes to undertake planning for activity centers, town centers and transportation corridors that is bringing a new level of livability to the region. To date, more than $140 million in planning and transportation funds have been allocated to 111 distinct LCI areas in the region. ARC looks forward to continuing these partnerships with local communities to create and implement LCI studies that support PLAN 2040 objectives and achieve regional impact with local relevance.

Land Matters Attends Georgia Planning Association Fall Conference

October 13, 2011

Land Matters was in attendance for the recent Georgia Planning Association (GPA) Fall Conference from September 28-30 in Savannah. Presenters offered a wide array of thought-provoking sessions on topics ranging from infill development to sustainable affordable housing, and from bicycle/pedestrian infrastructure to high-speed rail. Given its status as Georgia’s first city and the product of James Oglethorpe’s urban planning efforts, Savannah served as an ideal backdrop for the conference. Two sessions stood out strongly for Land Matters:

In one of Wednesday’s sessions, Sarah Ward of the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission (MPC) presented alongside Christian Sottile of Sottile & Sottile Associates, an urban design firm based in Savannah. The pair discussed Savannah’s new infill development standards for large-scale development in the city’s National Historic Landmark District. The standards, developed through an extensive public involvement process, stress design outcomes that include frequent building entrances and ground-floor uses (i.e., street addresses) as a means toward activating the street; skyline/rooftop variation; variation in façade recesses and setback that can accommodate windows perpendicular to the street; clear expression of the building’s base, middle and top; and the restoration or extension of the Oglethorpe street/lot/block/square network. Incentives such as additional height and other bonuses are offered to encourage conformity with the standards, which can be found in Section 7.8.9.r of the MPC’s draft Unified Zoning Ordinance or UZO (open for public comment until January 31, 2012).

As background, City of Savannah and Chatham County elected officials adopted a unified Comprehensive Plan in 2006, and as the next step in the process, the UZO will bring the city and county zoning ordinances – which, thanks to decades of amendments since the 1960s, are often redundant, confusing and contradictory – into one streamlined, unified framework.

A Thursday session featured speakers Martin Fretty with the Savannah Housing Department, Tommy Linstroth of Trident Sustainability Group, and Scott Lee of the Southface Energy Institute. Mr. Fretty discussed the Neighborhood Renaissance Savannah program, which for over a decade has leveraged funds from a combination of Federal (e.g., CDBG), local (e.g., SPLOST) and other sources to reinvest in some of Savannah’s most distressed neighborhoods, such as Benjamin Van Clark, Cuyler-Brownsville and West Savannah. Program activities include acquiring vacant and abandoned properties; creating enterprise and other economic development zones; addressing code compliance and property maintenance issues; and improving or rebuilding public infrastructure like streets, sidewalks and parks. The highly successful program has been the subject of substantial press and recognition through at least one national award.

The next phase of the program is taking place in the Savannah Gardens neighborhood on the east side of the city and is the result of a 2009 redevelopment plan. Originally constructed as temporary public housing for World War II-era shipyard workers, the site was later sold to a series of private owners who failed to reinvest in the property over a period of decades.  As a result, the area eventually became extremely blighted. As part of the Neighborhood Renaissance Savannah program, the new Savannah Gardens, which is currently under construction, will stand as a mixed-income, mixed-use community that features an array of green amenities, including pervious pavement for on-site drainage; mature trees that are being strategically saved  during the development process; and solar trash compactors throughout the site. The successes of Savannah and its redevelopment partners at this site and others such as Sustainable Fellwood show that sustainability and affordability are not mutually exclusive.

To close the conference, GPA recognized a number projects and processes around the state with awards for excellence in planning. Among the recipients was the Atlanta Regional Commission, winning the award for Outstanding Initiative (Large Community) for its development of the PLAN 2040 Regional Agenda. ARC thanks the region’s citizens, communities and non-governmental organizations for their valuable input in helping the agency make PLAN 2040 a reality.

Transportation Investment List Finalized, Future Up To Voters

October 13, 2011

ARC Press Release

(ATLANTA – October 13, 2011) At its final meeting today, the Atlanta Regional Transportation Roundtable voted unanimously in favor of a $6.14 billion list of transportation investments to be funded by a penny sales tax that will be on the ballot in 2012.

Members of the Roundtable acted today to put forward a set of 157 key transportation projects to voters next year that can combat congestion, create and support jobs and enhance the quality of life for residents around the 10-county Atlanta region,” said Norcross Mayor Bucky Johnson, chairman of the Roundtable.

“This group of 21 elected officials has been listening to their constituents, talking with each other and rolling up their sleeves to debate the merits of different projects for almost a year now,” said Mayor Johnson. “This final list of investments will move us forward and make sure the Atlanta region remains competitive well.”

The vote concluded an 11-month process in which the 21 Roundtable members, defined by H.B. 277, elected a five-member executive committee, reviewed transportation projects from all 10 counties and  whittled down a $23 billion list to $6.1 billion to meet the tax revenue projected by the state.

“Today’s vote marks a major milestone for the metropolitan Atlanta region,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “The Roundtable’s action today shows that we as elected officials can work in a collaborative fashion to move our region and state forward to meet the demands of the 21st century. These investments will create jobs, enhance our position as the economic engine of the Southeast and reduce traffic congestion.”

After the vote, each of the members signed a resolution declaring the approved list to be the final investment list for the 10-county Atlanta region, approving the state economist’s revenue projection and instructing Chairman Johnson to provide the Roundtable final report to the Georgia Department of Transportation and to the election superintendent in each county by the October 15 deadline stated in the Transportation Investment Act.

“This is an historic day for the Atlanta region,” said ARC Chairman Tad Leithead. “When this referendum passes next year, these investments will help metro Atlanta residents, now and in the future, travel more efficiently to work, school and home to spend more time with their families. The Atlanta Regional Commission is honored to have provided technical and administrative assistance to the work of the Roundtable.”

As required by the Transportation Investment Act legislation, Roundtable members also reviewed and approved a funding and construction schedule for all the projects on the list.

The Transportation Investment Act is scheduled to be on the ballot in the July 31, 2012, primary.


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