photo by cheapoair.com
Millennials are migrating to urban centers; they want a community made of something real and sustainable. They want to walk to work and then at lunch walk to their favorite lunch spot, where they know the workers and the patrons by first name basis. A community that is built around the pedestrian rather than the automobile. One where the streets are used for walking, riding a bicycle, and yes for the automobile. Millennials need a sense of purpose a feeling that they belong. They want a place where they will be heard; they also want to be helpful and be a productive part of their community. You might be thinking: "why invest in millennials? Millennials don't have any money, they have student loans and bad credit so why should Walton County care about building places that accommodate Millennials; the numbers just won't work". Well, its not just millennials, Baby boomers are retiring and they are in the same exact boat as millennials. Two generations in need of the same, exact few things: purpose, to be heard, and a place that cultivates a community they can enjoy. Now have I got your attention?
project photo from TSW-DESIGN.COM
There is a humongous market for mixed use development with a center that is built around the citizens as pedestrians not as motor vehicle operators. This new approach is really not new but old it is the way the cities have been built for 1,000s of years. Only since the 50's has the west been developing shopping malls and subdivisions in a "sprawl" like manner with no boundaries. . These types of developments are all we, as a society, have known but when compared to older wiser developments we see how disconnected they are. Current zoning separates and divides the most natural of human desires and needs, by putting miles of asphalt and stoplights between residential (our homes) and commercial (where we live and collaborate ).
It started as an experiment after war world II when all the GI's came home from war and had been given a credit called the GI Bill, allowing for every soldier to get a mortgage on a home. Since then our economy has been a construction economy rather than industry and no one has ever been able to keep up with demand. Department of transportation can never build enough roads on tax payers dollars. Our builders and contractors couldn't keep up with all the future new construction that had been financed by banks and land groups and developers just keep buying all the cheap farm land in the suburbs, waiting for the economy to catch up.
I think, Bill Tunnell Founding Principle at TSW-DESIGN says it best like this: clear boundaries between “town” and “country”, in order to promote and preserve the best of both, has been practiced successfully for centuries in western Europe and other parts of the world. It accounts for the appeal of those places to residents and tourists alike. Such boundaries have been hard to achieve in the U.S., however, because of zoning laws that place few restrictions on the development rights of private property owners. It is possible, however, to manage growth so that “suburban sprawl” is contained and both town and country are enhanced as places for people for live and visit. Places like Walton County, where the pattern of strong, walkable towns surrounded by farmland has not yet been badly eroded, have a great opportunity to adopt policies that will reinforce that pattern and attract future growth that is sustainable. These are the places, near major urban centers like Atlanta, that will attract both older and younger residents seeking a balanced, healthy lifestyle. Bill Tunnell
photo by How stuff works
Its time we come full circle and realize that focusing new development in denser Livable Center Initiative (or LCI planned) areas is not a new idea but it is actually old. Focusing Walton counties growth within our existing incorporated towns boundaries fosters a healthier community, happier citizen, and a cleaner environment. Imagine if we could grow our towns commercially,residentially, and industrially while preserving our AG land and wildlife habitat from being sold and chopped up into 1 acre lots and developed .Imagine our County where new development is focused in Good Hope, Jersey Monroe, Social Circle, Loganvville where livability is the center initiative. With any new development outside of an existing town in Walton County on raw undeveloped land be mandated to have an LCI; A plan with mixed use zoning to improve the quality of life for citizens of Walton County.