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Planning Success Stories

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Alpharetta's Big Creek Greenway

Alpharetta's 8.3 mile Big Creek Greenway is a concrete and natural path through the deciduous woods along Big Creek, offering opportunities for walking, jogging, inline roller blading, and biking. A soft mulch trail encircles a large wetland between Haynes Bridge Road and Mansell Road where wildlife such as blue heron, deer, ducks and Canadian geese can be seen. There are several references to the Greenway in various parts of the 2011 plan, including referring to it as a major destination for residents and visitors alike, which can be seen as an economic development plus for local tourism. The City’s 2010 comprehensive plan work program had several items related to greenways: (1) Continue expansion of the City's Greenway Program including the northernmost segment to Windward Parkway and (2) Construct a greenway trail to enhance pedestrian connectivity between Wills Park and the Downtown Core. Both items indicated in their report of accomplishments as "underway." There are long-range plans to extend the greenway to Windward Parkway and to the Roswell city limit, where the City of Roswell is developing a plan to expand the linear park further south into that city. The entire Greenway runs for over 13 miles through the cities of Alpharetta and Roswell, and into neighboring Forsyth County. Alpharetta Parks and Recreation Department

ARC Planning Assistance Teams

In 2012, the Atlanta Regional Commission began offering free local assistance teams to address planning issues in individual communities within their region. These teams are in response to specific work activities in the ARC Regional Work Program. The ARC Land Use Division leads these teams, as well as associated workshops and charrettes. This technical assistance is designed to address specific local planning and visioning needs. This assistance is typically outside more formal functions of other divisions in the Commission. Projects already undertaken by the ARC teams include: City of Milton’s Arnold Mill Road Visioning; City of Senoia’s gateway and downtown visioning workshop; and, the LaVista Road greenspace charrette for DeKalb County. Atlanta Regional Commission, Land Use Division

Atlanta Regional Commission Edgewood Design Charrette

In April of 2011, SouthFace and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) led a group of local non-profits, professionals and stakeholders to undertake the Edgewood design charrette. This charrette spanned four days and focused on exploring and formulating a vision for a transit oriented development (TOD) on the underutilized MARTA parking lot on the south side of the Edgewood/Candler Park MARTA station in Atlanta. The Edgewood community was chosen for the focus of these efforts because of the considerable planning and implementation progress that the City of Atlanta, Zeist Foundation, MARTA and the Edgewood Community had already undertaken.

This TOD charrette represented an opportunity to drill down to the micro level to prepare a concept plan for the underutilized parking lot. The multi-day charrette process involved residents of the area and other key stakeholders in creating two final concept plans for the Edgewood-Candler Park MARTA station south parking lot. Both of these concepts maintain the important transit function of the site while adding neighborhood-friendly retail space and a public park/commons area to serve as a “Community Living Room” for the neighborhood.

The project is still moving forward with an RFP this month to release the MARTA station to developers to implement the plan developed during the charrette process.
Jared Lombard
Atlanta Regional Commission
Camp Creek Marketplace

Very much an economic development success story, East Point's Camp Creek Marketplace, which opened in 2003, is a 1.2 million square-foot retail center located in a low-income area that was difficult to develop due to its topography and lack of infrastructure. The City of East Point created a TAD (tax allocation district) to construct the needed infrastructure which paved the way for developers to build the Camp Creek Marketplace. The Marketplace provides retail in a low-income area that needs such amenities. A new business park has also been constructed as part of the TAD www.shopcampcreekmarketplace.com/

Cobb County River Line Historic Area

Cobb County’s River Line Historic Area links the cities of Smyrna, Vinings and Mableton geographically, and the entire county historically. The Johnston River Line is mentioned several times in the 2006 Cobb County Comprehensive Plan, particularly as regards creating parks and protecting the important historic resources included in these parks. Of particular interest is the River Line District, which showcases the fortifications and sites important to Cobb’s part in the Civil War. There are policies, goals and work activities aimed at developing strategies to best preserve and promote these resources for recreational, economic development (tourism) as well as conservation purposes. Shoupades Park, a stop on this River Line, is unique to Cobb and to Georgia- in fact, these earthworks are unlike any found anywhere else in the world. Cobb County, through its efforts as set forth in their plan, has protected them with their park system. Thirty-six Shoupades were originally constructed in June 1864 and nine remain today as earthworks.
College Park LCI: Gateway Center

The City of College Park has worked pro-actively to bring new, high quality development as a strategy to revitalize its community that has suffered deeply due to airport encroachment, residential decline, and aging urban infrastructure. Their work started with the development of their comprehensive plan, followed by the adoption of an Economic Development Strategic Plan and participation in a Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) study. The College Park Activity Center LCI aimed to develop a mixed-use, transit oriented, and pedestrian oriented environment near the Historic Downtown district and activity center, which includes Gateway Center, the city's convention center district near the airport.

College Park’s 2011 comprehensive plan repeatedly discusses and reinforces the importance of the Gateway Center to the development and redevelopment of the surrounding community. The Gateway Center development takes advantage of its unique position of proximity to the economic center that is Hartsfield-Jackson by connecting Atlanta with the airport via its advantageous location in College Park. The free SkyTrain connects travelers to not only the car rental facility, but also to the Georgia International Convention Center (GICC), the state’s second largest convention center and the Gateway Center development which features office and hospitality uses. Since College Park's original LCI study in 2008, infill development has taken place within the activity center, new design guidelines for downtown have been adopted, and the College Park GoBus shuttle has been launched, just to name a few of College Park's successes.

Douglas County 900 Acres Protected on Dog River

The Dog River is the primary source of drinking water for Douglas County. In order to protect that resource, and ensure water quality for years to come, the County worked with the Trust for Public Land-Georgia to purchase, and convey to the county, 802 acres of pristine land along the Dog River. The County also is looking to the River to provide recreational opportunities for county residents. The project will protect 2.13 miles of Dog River buffer and approximately 1 mile of Flyblow Creek, a tributary of the Dog River. Funding for the government's purchase was generated by a SPLOST (Special Option Local Sales Tax) approved by voters. The importance of the Dog River to Douglas County has been indicated in every Douglas County comprehensive plan and work program since 1994. The Dog River Park is located in the southern part of the County off Georgia Highways 166 and 5, and is a well used resource for passive and active recreation for Douglas County residents and visitors alike. Gary Dukes
Parks and Recreation

Grayson Highway Overlay District

The 2009 comprehensive plan for the City of Grayson utilizes character areas to define future development for the City and to oversee new development along its main corridors. The plan makes use of its Future Development Map to establish the visions and development patterns aspired to in each of these character areas, and the tools necessary to achieve this. One such tool is overlay districts applied within their adopted zoning ordinance. A good example of these overlays is that for GA Hwy. 20. A large part of the City’s commercial development is along this corridor and contributes heavily to the community’s economic base. This overlay established regulations for high-quality, appropriate and compatible new commercial development along the corridor. Another such overlay was established for Uptown Grayson to provide for new mixed-use commercial and retail development as well as civic and institutional uses. These overlays serve to help the community maintain its attractiveness, and this helps draw new commercial and residential development.
Lithonia Housing Inventory

In 2013, the City of Lithonia received assistance from the Atlanta Regional Commission's (ARC) Community Choices Program in conducting an inventory of all residential properties in the City. This was done in conjunction with the Georgia Initiative for Community Housing (GICH) program, which assists communities in providing resources to help develop housing plans. This inventory enabled the City to address several of the housing issues and opportunities identified in its comprehensive plan as well as specifically implement a work program activity of undertaking an inventory of housing conditions.

To complete the inventory, a tool using GIS technology was developed by the ARC. The information gathered using this tool has helped the City of Lithonia better understand the status of housing in the City. This project resulted in a full electronic-based database and interactive map of the City's existing housing situation, thus providing the City with guidance on future capital improvements. The housing inventory revealed that nearly a third of the housing in Lithonia is considered "sub-optimal" and a large number of vacant lots throughout the City. The final report lists a number of possible resources and tools that can be utilized to address the problems discovered by the housing inventory. The tools developed by this project could potentially pave the way for other cities in the Atlanta region and beyond to develop similar strategies to identify housing problems and find ways to improve upon them.

Peachtree City Multi Use Path System

The transportation system in Peachtree City is based on a system of multi-use paths which connect almost every residential development, civic building and each of the retail centers within the municipality. This 80-mile system of paths has become a major transportation alternative throughout Peachtree City. It is referenced often in the Peachtree City comprehensive plan, and was first developed in the 1960's, when the city (a planned community) was first built. The path system has been frequently extended since that time. It is an integral part of the community’s economic structure as well, since these paths purposely link retail centers throughout the community. The paths are used especially by golf carts, and in fact the city has approximately one golf cart per household. This path system is part of the appeal of Peachtree City, contributing to its consistent track record of growth and job creation.
Roswell Enterprise Resource Planning project

The City of Roswell 2030 comprehensive plan laid the groundwork for this very important project. It is referenced in their plan under “Community Affairs, item CF4.” The City’s Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) project was designed to improve business processes and efficiency by replacing many of the City’s legacy software systems. This 5 year, $4 million project was broken into phases based upon functional areas of responsibility. The City hired an external Project Manager to work with the internal Steering Committee to monitor progress and change management, facilitate resolution of issues, and coordinate project milestones and to provide communication to a variety of stakeholder groups.
The “General Government” phase consisted of implementing the following Tyler Technologies modules: financial accounting, court services, purchasing, business license, payroll/HR, tax billing, permits, work orders, budgeting and utility billing. The “Public Safety” phase consisted of implementing the following OSSI SunGard modules: computer aided dispatch, records management, jail services, and 911 case entry. Within each phase, there were other business partners that the City worked with to provide technology for ancillary improvements such as payment and credit card processing, e-tickets, online “self-service” portals, online development plans submittal and archiving, and GIS improvements, to name a few.
The City is in the final stages of implementation of “extra” modules and tweaking of integration to take full advantage of the functionality of the ERP systems. Completion of this project is expected in the first quarter of calendar year 2016.

Roswell Overlay Districts

The City of Roswell’s comprehensive plan emphasizes how important quality development and redevelopment is to the community’s economic well-being. To that end, the plan calls for use of overlay districts to encourage redevelopment opportunities The Parkway Village Overlay District and the Midtown Roswell Corridor Improvements district are two such overlays, intended to attract new development and redevelopment to these areas by enhancing and maintaining the appearance and attractiveness of these areas. Roswell, City of

Snellville - Removal of Reversible Traffic Lanes

Snellville’s 2030 Comprehensive Plan, adopted in 2009, called for removal of reversible lanes on US 78. This was an important issue for the community because the reversible lanes had long been known to contribute to higher crash and injury rates, public safety concerns, and also hampered vehicular access to the businesses along Highway 78, thereby limiting their economic viability. The city subsequently succeeded in having the reversible lanes removed by 2011. The result has been popular with local citizens, commuters on Highway 78, and has already spurred redevelopment of a declining strip center along US 78 that was previously hampered by ingress and egress issues caused by the reversible lanes. Comprehensive Plan

Suwanee Downtown Master Plan: a PlanFirst community success

The City of Suwanee undertook a large planning effort in 2015. The City completed the 10 year update to the Downtown Suwanee Master Plan. This update took over six months to complete and used public meetings, steering committees and professional consultants to ensure a bold plan that will pave the way for Suwanee to become an even more vibrant City. The City rezoned property adjacent to Town Center for a five story multi-family building along with a parking deck. Twilliger Pappas and the City of Suwanee joined together in private-public partnership that will help create the downtown style development down Buford Highway – one of the plan’s biggest goals.
Suwanee Planning Retreats

Keeping the comprehensive plan in the forefront for local leadership is a priority in Suwannee. The elected leadership, other key leaders, and city staff meet annually to discuss the plan, what has been accomplished during the past year to implement the plan, and the set implementation priorities for the upcoming year. This process of annual review and discussion is laid out in the plan, for instance: in its “Suwanee, Georgia 2030 Comprehensive Plan” prepared in 2008, the City included a specific section devoted to plan updating, and it includes reminders to review the plan annually but also to update the short term work program on an annual basis. Another work program item addresses the ‘how’- holding joint meetings annually with the Council, the DDA, the Planning Commission, the Zoning Board of appeals and other interested parties. This way, the City insures that all aspects of the plan are addressed by the right agency. This attention to plan update has resulted in an extremely well-used comprehensive plan for the City of Suwanee. Marty Allen
City Manager
City of Suwanee Planning

Suwanee Town Center

Suwanee's Town Center project was undertaken to meet the goals of the City’s 2020 comprehensive plan: to create an identifiable town center and to demonstrate how successful development can include a strong open space strategy. The City had also envisioned a town center with a historic Main Street atmosphere with different uses, such as a variety of housing options, offices, and retail throughout. Some of the uses in Town Center include restaurants, clothing boutiques, a bank, and an architecture and engineering firm to name a few. The Suwanee Town Center was successful in keeping the historic feel of the city while providing an outlet for both new housing and economic development opportunities. The City has strived to make the Town Center easily accessible to the rest of the City by way of different modes of transportation. Town Center Avenue has plentiful on-street parking and wide sidewalks to accommodate both drivers and pedestrians. A pedestrian bridge was constructed going over Suwanee Creek, which connects the creek’s Greenway to Town Center and a pedestrian underpass was created beneath a Norfolk Southern rail line that connects the historic Old Town to Town Center. Suwanee Town Center is a success story because of how it meets the goals set forth in the City's 2020 comprehensive plan and 2009 downtown master plan. Suwanee was designated a PlanFirst community January 1, 2015. http://www.suwanee.com/ 

Tyrone Builds Multi-Use Path

The comprehensive plan of the Town of Tyrone calls for continuing expansion of the network of paths throughout the town. These paths include a 1.8 mile multi-use path located on Castlewood Road behind Tyrone Elementary School that accommodates walkers, bikers, joggers, and golf carts. The town has worked from a master plan for path development that will eventually tie all neighborhoods together, allowing people to get from one neighborhood to another without using a car. Town Manager

Woodstock Trolley Program: a PlanFirst community success

The City of Woodstock’s work program, in its economic development section, listed an activity for both 2014 and 2015 to promote tourism and ease of movement around downtown Woodstock- “Develop Trolley Route and Purchase Trolley”. The City purchased a trolley in 2014 and the route established in 2015. Since its beginning, the trolley has had over 3500 riders. A map of the trolley stops can be found here: http://www.downtownwoodstock.org/trolley/ . To enable ease of ridership, the City has developed a phone app that provides information on the real-time location of the trolley and gives an ETA for arrival at a specified point in the route. This app should go live in early 2016. New signage for the trolley will be erected soon, most likely in the 2nd quarter of 2016.
Woodstock's Woofstock Dog Park: a PlanFirst community success

In 2009, following a flooding event in Woodstock, the City took possession of a flooded apartment complex that had to be demolished. Because of restrictions placed on the property by FEMA regarding construction in a floodplain, the City decided to use the property as a dog park. The Woofstock dog park opened in 2012. During this time, the City also put into its comprehensive plan the need to build 6 pavilions at public trailheads throughout the community and to construct multi-use trails in accordance with the City’s Greenprints plan. The bridge connection to the park became a trailhead and trail extension, following along with these plans. This section crosses over Noonday Creek and is composed of a long elevated bridge and boardwalks because of the floodplain area. The bridge and trails connected the Woofstock Dog Park to the 1.5 mile Noonday Creek Trail and to the Town to Creek Trails. The City’s non-profit partner, Greenprints Alliance, has installed counters to understand how many people are using the trail. The data so far shows an average of 7,473 trips over the bridge per month. This number has exceeded all of City expectations! There is one counter at Elm Street, which is the trailhead for the Noonday Creek Trail located at the heart of Downtown Woodstock, and the other on the new bridge leading to Woofstock. The park has its own Facebook page which over 2000 people have visited. http://www.woodstockga.gov/ 


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