Population: 7,201,000
                       Counties: 159
                         Governor Roy E. Barnes

Key Laws/State Agencies/Court

Click here for the amount of protected land in Georgia, and click here to review Georgia's federal transportation spending.
Source:  Pew Center on the States & Changing Direction:  Federal Transportation Spending in the 1990s. Surface Transportation Policy Project

An extreme TV advertisement campaign run by the Georgia Highway Contractors Association began airing in metro Atlanta recently that claims environmentalists are "preventing us from driving cars, and forcing us to live downtown."  Similar ad campaigns can be expected as metropolitan areas continue to turn toward, however slightly, mass transit to comply with the federal Clean Air Act.
"Pro-road TV ads tar environmentalists as tyrants," Atlanta Journal-Constitution. March 18, 2001.
Dueling editorials by Atlanta's two major dailies have both acclaimed the ad campaign and ridiculed it.  Atlanta Journal Editorial: "Ads make a case for additional roads," March 20, 2001.
Atlanta Constitution Editorial: "Disregard Road Builder's Propeganda," March 21, 2001.

Key Laws:
For an overview of Georgia's planning and zoning statutes, see the excellent summary provided by the American Planning Association.

Georgia Planning Act of 1989 (HB 215) authorized the state Department of Community Affairs to establish rules and procedures for local government and regional agency review for development projects with  regional impacts.  The Act instructs the regional agency and local government to consider a list of factors in determining a project's potential impacts on the environment and natural resources of the region; the regional economy; sewer, solid waste, water, and transportation facilities; and the ability of new residents to find housing that is accessible to jobs. 

State Agencies:
Georgia Regional Transportation Authority(GRTA)
The GRTA was created by the General Assembly in 1999 at the urging of Governor Roy E. Barnes.  The authority is charged with combating air pollution, traffic congestion and poorly planned development in the metro Atlanta area, which is currently out of compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. As other areas of the state fall out of compliance, they would also fall under the purview of GRTA. Governor Barnes said he formed GRTA to insure that metro Atlanta can sustain its economic growth, while maintaining the excellent quality of life that has made the area so attractive to businesses and workers.  Utilizing the "carrot", the commission will have the power to issue bonds for transportation projects, and using the "stick" the commission will have the broad authority to vote down highway projects and other large developments it deems will hurt the region's air quality. 

Preservation Review and Community Planning Assistance
The Historic Preservation Division is responsible for reviewing and commenting on federally-funded, licensed and permitted projects to insure that significant cultural resources are identified and considered, and works with state agencies with similar reviews required under the Georgia Environmental Policy Act (GEPA).  The Division also assists local communities with planning for the protection of significant properties by providing information on a variety of preservation planning tools, such as historic district zoning, legislation, and preservation components of community comprehensive plans. In addition, the office works with many of the state's Regional Development Centers (RDCs) by providing funding for preservation planning assistance through the services of Regional Preservation Planners. 

The Growth Strategies Reassessment Task Force appointed by the Board of Community Affairs recommends ways to address Georgia's expanding planning and growth management challenge including urban sprawl, decline in air and water quality and continued decline of urban areas.  To read the Task Force recommendations please link to:

Joint Study Committee on Historic Preservation
The Joint Study Committee on Historic Preservation was first created by House Resolution 425 in the 1997 Session of the Georgia General Assembly and recreated in 1998 by Senate Resolution 552. The purpose of both Committees was to develop recommendations for legislation, funding, and other strategies to strengthen preservation in Georgia. Both resolutions identified a broad slate of preservation topics for examination: community revitalization, economic development, technological and computerization needs, existing infrastructure, urban sprawl, regional preservation planning services, archaeology, financial
assistance, the Georgia Heritage 2000 Program, stewardship of historic properties, delivery of community preservation services, and heritage tourism.

Court Decisions:
In June of 1999, the state DOT settled a lawsuit that had been filed by the Georgia Conservancy, the Sierra Club and Georgians for Transportation Alternatives, challenging 61 road projects in the 13-county area. Under the terms of the settlement, only 17 of those projects can go forward until the region adopts a transportation plan that meets air quality standards. 

"Group: Growth not dumb; 'Smart': Hot topic is how to overcome local resistance". Telegraph-Herald (Dubuque, IA).  December 9, 2000.

"Collapse of Atlanta Talks Keeps Road Builders Idle," New York Times. January 4, 2001.

"Redevelopment:  Turning Old Into New," Atlanta Journal Constitution.  Feb. 8, 2001.

"Road plans face barrier: Injunction requested by environmental groups until suit to stop proposals settled," Atlanta Journal Constitution. April 6, 2001.

"City accused of backing out of downtown project," Atlanta Journal Constitution. April 18, 2001.

"No parking zones:  Restrictions eyed as spaces exceed requirements," Atlanta Journal Constitution. May 8, 2001.

"Lewis: Transportation law is unfair," Atlanta Journal Constitution. May 8, 2001.

"The Lane Ranger: Have mass transit, and a private car," Atlanta Journal Constitution. May 9, 2001.

"Rail Official Gives OK for Commuting," Atlanta Journal Constitution. June 8, 2001

"State's Shown Us Studies, but Has Yet to Show Rail Money," Atlanta Journal Constitution. June 11, 2001.

"Private Foresters Tell Troubles to Congress, want Farm Assistance," Atlanta Journal Constitution. June 13, 2001.
Atlanta Neighborhood Development Program
34 Peachtree Street, Suite 1700
Atlanta, GA 30303
Tel: 404-522-2637

Environmental Justice Resource Center
Clark Atlanta University
223 Brawley Drive, SW
Atlanta, GA 30314
Tel: 202-880-8363

Georgia Conservancy
1776 Peachtree Street, NW, 
Suite 400 South 
Atlanta, GA 30309 
Tel.: 404-876-2900 

Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation
1516 Peachtree Street, NW, 
Atlanta, GA 30309 
Tel: 404-881-9980 

Georgians for Transportation Alternatives
1083 Austin Ave., NE
Atlanta, GA 30307
Tel: 404-653-0966

Rural South Fulton Communties
Rural South Fulton Communities are dedicated to preserving their rural character. Through their work with county planners and supporting groups, the communities hope to encourage smart growth and protect the area's natural resources so future generations may know a Rural Georgia. 

The Brookings Institution releases report on Atlanta's Growth.
The Atlanta metropolitan area is experiencing explosive job and population growth in the northern and outer portions of its region and too little growth in its core and close-in southern suburbs. These two sets of challenges are fundamentally connected. This latest report by Brookings argues that, in order to move beyond sprawl, the Atlanta  region must understand this connection and embrace a broad set of solutions that tackle the problems faced by these two parts of the region. 

"Sprawl Atlanta: Social Equity Dimensions of Uneven Growth and Development,"prepared by Robert Bullard, Clark Atlanta University. 

Bullard demonstrates the social impacts of sprawl development patterns in Atlanta.  Among them are urban core poverty, unemployment, limited
mobility, economic disinvestment, social isolation, city and suburban school disparities, public health threats and safety risks. 

"An Unlevel Playing Field: How Public Policies Favor Suburban Sprawl Over Downtown Development in Metropolitan Atlanta;"prepared by American Farmland Trust.

The paper examines the cause of sprawl and describes how government policies affect land values and drive development. The study finds that transportation, zoning, housing and tax policies in metro Atlanta are moving economic development and opportunities farther into the suburbs. 

"Exploring Land Use Impacts on Household Travel Choice and Vehicle Emissions in the Atlanta Region;" prepared by Larry Frank of Georgia Institute of Technology. 

The study documents how land use impacts both household travel choices and vehicle emissions. It concludes that people who live in areas that are compact in nature and interconnected with commercial and employment districts, drive and pollute less. 

"Atlanta Metropolitics: A Regional Agenda for Community and Stability;"prepared by Myron Orfield, executive director of Metropolitan Area Research and a Minnesota State Legislator. 

By mapping social and economic trends, Atlanta Metropolitics shows that sprawl is a region-wide and not just a center-city problem. As the wave of social and economic stress grows in the older suburbs, tides of middle-class homeowners sweep into fringe communities. Growing cities and counties, facing tremendous service and infrastructure needs, offer development incentives that allow them to capture the most tax base. In doing so, they lock the region into sprawling development patterns. Orfield, who has studied regional polarization in 14 of the 25 largest metropolitan areas of the U.S., recommends regional land use planning, regional equity, and regional structural reform as viable strategies for addressing sprawl. 

The Atlanta based Turner Foundation, Inc., reprinted a series of articles that ran in the Atlanta-Journal Constitution examining the issues of smart growth and sprawl statewide. Included in the publication is the special June 1997 editorial series that was also published in the morning Atlanta Constitution and Sunday Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  To order a free copy of Managing Sprawl contact: Sprawl Watch Clearinghouse

Georgia's State Implementation Plan for the Atlanta Ozone Non-attainment Area, prepared by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources Environmental Protection Division (October 28, 1999)