From towns to cities to counties, the number of municipalities within the metro area is in the scores. Everyone in the metro area crosses boundaries and jurisdictions on a regular notice without even thinking about it. It is rare that a commuter from Cumming to Buckhead would realize that they are crossing at least six jurisdictional lines in their commute. More likely, they would view the trip as a traffic laden journey through the north side of Atlanta.
The need for a regional plan that coordinates the administrations of these jurisdictions in a meaningful and productive way has never been greater. Our regional issues include but are not limited to transportation, air quality, public health and water management and we are failing in at least two if not all four of these areas. The good thing is that with the recent legislation passed to create regions in Georgia that will allow residents of those regions to vote on a penny sales tax, we will be able to control our own transportation destiny.
The main organizing body behind planning at the regional level is the Atlanta Regional Commission. The ARC, as it is known, has been serving the metro area for 60 years (under different names) and focuses the area leadership on solutions to regional issues. They also serve as an informational compendium for data related to the region. Some of the projects that the ARC works on are:
- ARC Plan 2040
- Atlanta Fifty Forward
- Green Communities
- Lifelong Communities
- Livable Centers Initiative
By sponsoring meetings and forums all across the region, the ARC enables citizens to act locally and give input on projects and plans. It also seeks ideas globally by sponsoring the annual LINK (Leadership Involvement Networking Knowledge) trip that enables regional leaders to tour other successful cities across the nation gathering ideas and knowledge that can be brought back to Atlanta.
All in all, our region is talking the talk. The ARC is saying many of the right things to help lead Atlanta toward a smarter growth pattern than what we have seen in the past. As a major thoroughfare in the north metro area, Roswell, only stands to benefit from active participation in ARC planning. We should encourage our politicians to stay engaged regionally and continue to play a leadership role.