Atlanta is expected to grow by almost three million people by 2040 according to the ARC. This will put the region at just over eight million homo sapiens. You may often hear that growth is a bad thing and that we need to manage growth or curb growth in order to retain a certain quality of life. The validity of that argument is debatable but unfortunately for those in the 'no growth' camp, there are other demographic and economic factors that are unlikely to be mitigated at play. Everyone needs to face it. We are going to grow. The question is... "How will we grow?"
Roswell is off to a good start in many of the planning documents that have been produced in the past decade. The city understands that quality growth should be a priority and that the local government should play a key role in organizing while not dictating that growth. The city's Comprehensive Plan2030 predicts in its medium assumption that population will grow from 91,496 in 2010 to 106,771 by 2030. This will create the need for an additional 3,560 new housing units. How will we get there?
The only way is smart. willing density. We need to figure out how to get people to willingly live in higher density. The plans for four main additional 'villages' of development activity will help significantly and probably should be focused on even more. These types of developments no only encourage walking and transit but they also create places of character that residents and visitors can relate to and manage the transportation in the area by mitigating congestion. Below is a map of the proposed villages from the 2006 Master Transportation Plan.
The residents should be educated on the merits of smart growth with livable density because density is coming. Here's a sample that most of us can relate to in the historic district just nort of the Smith Plantation where the Value Village and Southern Skillet are. This is just a rendering of what a redevelopment of that area could look like.
If we can turn the blighted areas of Roswell into dense areas that are beautiful and interesting, wouldn't that be an improvement on our current situation? There are so many reasons that this type of growth should be encouraged. I can't go off on a diatribe of the economic/environmental/health/social benefits of density as well as many others out there in the blogosphere so I won't even try. But, I will link to a couple very interesting posts on density by one of my favorite bloggers, Kaid Benfield, with the NRDC.
Hopefully you took a look at these links. Most of the places in the Beautiful Density link are examples of Smart Growth and/or New Urbanist communities that offer a much higher quality of life for all ages than the typical suburban development. If Roswell is going to get serious about growth over the next 30 years, we should be curbing development on the fringe and encouraging smart density in the villages that have been identified as growth centers as well as in the historic district.