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A long view on North Fulton: Are we smart enough to take it?


November 11, 2013
I don't think many would look around and curse all the new home building in our area.

After the recession and long slog out (we're still working our way out), to see both new homes and existing inventory selling, more people working and businesses in our area doing better is a great thing.

On top of that, Avalon and the City Center in Alpharetta are coming up out of the ground. With them will come a more vibrant downtown with new restaurants and shops.

Avalon will be an area destination bringing in tax dollars from more than just North Fulton residents.

As our identity grows and changes – so does our area.

As things are beginning to boom again, I don't know if our elected officials in Alpharetta, Milton, Johns Creek and Roswell are taking the long view.

If we're simply renewing our development approach from before the recession without thought on what things will look like and how traffic will flow when there is no more land to develop, then we're bound to all the negative outcomes sprawl brings.

Smart growth

More thought should be given to higher-density residential around the developments of Avalon and our downtown areas. Walking and bike paths should be integrated into the plan along with mass transit options.

Consider townhomes and/or luxury flats in place of the dilapidated strip center behind the Bank of America on Ga. 9 (across from the Dairy Queen).

Or, how about residential above retail in downtown Alpharetta, with luxury townhomes bordering it?

Michael Hadden over at New Urban Roswell speaks much more intelligently on this subject than I can, but I do know this: Sprawl begets sprawl.

Traffic

Having growth again is wonderful, but we are still approving and building a sea of subdivisions that are dumping two-plus cars per household onto our already crowded roads.

There are several roundabouts under construction, which are meant to aid in keeping traffic moving, but we don't seem to be considering what can help with traffic.

For instance, why do we continue to approve and build subdivisions with one way in and one way out? All the cars in that community funneled and dumped out at a single point on the same road that a dozen other subdivisions are dumping cars onto.

Public transportation / MARTA

Most of us believe that Avalon and the downtown development will be a hit, but here's a question for you: What if Avalon and the downtown development are too successful? Think about the additional traffic coming to us…the destination…from the surrounding areas, on top of our current traffic flow.

I'm a proponent of MARTA and would love to see heavy rail come out to Alpharetta.

I agree it is an extremely expensive endeavor. The problem though is that it will be even more expensive down the road than it is now. If heavy rail isn't the solution now – how can we plan for its need down the road rather than simply say, "No thanks?"

In the short term, we should come up with an alternative, because rest assured – growth will continue.

We can pay now or pay later

We are fortunate in North Fulton to have great schools and a strong business community. Companies move to North Fulton and they relocate their employees here. Businesses like public transportation, and home values are higher if they are closer to public transportation.

If our local elected officials are only looking at what they think we need today, rather than in 10, 20 or 30 years, then they're doing exactly what so many accuse Washington, D.C. of doing — passing the buck.

Bob Strader is a local realtor with the NORTH Group of Keller Williams Realty. Visit his blogs liveincumming.com or liveinalpharetta.com or email him: info@thenorthgroup.com.
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