The Council’s Forsyth Advisory Committee hosted TSW founding principal, Bill Tunnell on Thursday, May 12th in Forsyth County. Tunnell lead a timely discussion on innovative approaches to growth management and providing for increased density in suburban and rural communities.
During his presentation, Tunnell discussed the various options communities have when designating housing types and building design that can provide greater density and amenities desired by residents in all life stages without changing the character of traditional residential neighborhoods. He discussed the various design and development solutions for “the Missing Middle” or middle density communities, explaining that metro Atlanta has expertise and experience developing urban centers and residential subdivisions, but tend to struggle with understanding and codifying developments that fall in the middle. Tunnell described how these developments can take the form of “Pocket Neighborhoods,” where several houses on smaller lots surround a shared community greenspace. He showed the group how larger subdivision lots can be retrofitted for three or more of the smaller ‘mew’ lots around a central greenspace. Developers have also found that land cost savings from building on the smaller lots allow the home product to have more upgrades and high quality materials and design at the same price point as a traditional single family home.
These design types can be mutually supportive of traditional suburban and rural residential neighborhoods, providing a destination for residents across the County to visit and invest in the local economy. The advisory committee discussed how requiring only tradtional low density residential developments through the zoning code is an ineffective way to slow growth and instead can lead to unbalanced, unsustainable growth that cannot pay for itself. The “middle density” design options discussed are not creating more growth than would occur in a community otherwise, they are simply providing options for the high quality, walkable, amenity-rich developments that the market desires.
Density, housing options and growth management and how those policy decision affect residents’ quality of life is top of mind in Forsyth County as they work on their Comprehensive Plan Update. The Council thanks all members for attending this meeting and encourages them to remain engaged in Forsyth County’s comprehensive development planning process. Thank you to Council member Bill Tunnell for his presentation and continued involvement in the Council for Quality Growth’s efforts to promote balanced quality growth across the Atlanta region.