Blueprints: Paulding County
This spring, the Georgia Conservancy continues its state-wide contributions to sustainable growth and inclusive community planning in a new Blueprints community, northwest Georgia’s Paulding County.
The Georgia Conservancy has been asked by county officials to undertake a land use study as part of the foundation of Paulding County’s 10-Year Comprehensive Plan Update.
As one of the very last metro-Atlanta counties to experience widespread growth challenges as a result of the region’s decades-long population boom, Paulding has the opportunity to learn from the past successes and failures of other metro counties that have seen years of widespread development. For decades, counties such as Cobb, Gwinnett, Clayton and Douglas have undergone tremendous economic growth in their communities, for better or for worse. A county of 120,000, Paulding has seen a steady increase in residents since the year 2000 and has for a number of years developed into a bedroom community for metro-Atlanta employees, with 75% of Paulding residents working beyond the county line. As a result, residents of Paulding County spend an average of more than 160 hours traveling to and from work every year – the most of any county in Georgia. As a large amount of affordable real estate within Paulding has provided an attractive draw for both new residential and commercial development, an increase in population and development of usable land is inevitable.
Paulding understands this unique opportunity that it has been provided. County stakeholders and residents are looking to take advantage of its “late to the party” status by helping to guide growth and development in a manner that is economically and environmentally advantageous.
The Georgia Conservancy’s analysis will begin with an examination of watersheds and natural features in a desire to help the county reinvest in existing communities, such as Dallas, Hiram and Braswell, and to accommodate future growth sustainably and with minimal impact to the environment. As Paulding County is home to the Paulding Forest Wildlife Management Area, one of metro Atlanta’s largest WMAs, as well as the extremely popular segment of the Silver Comet Trail, a 61-mile bike path the originates in Smyrna, the positive economic and environmental impacts that the county’s outdoor recreational amenities provide will be weighed heavily.