Commons (Atlanta) Open Space and Privacy Close to Town
Atlanta's ferocious traffic and serious sprawl have caused endless problems. But a
small, innovative development close to the central city shows that, with a little
creativity, a community can preserve open space while giving residents privacy,
convenience and freedom.
Gardens Amongst Growth: By safeguarding open space within a mix
of energy-efficient housing and businesses, East Lake Commons is a smart development.
East Lake Commons is most notable for its lack of cars. Parking and access to the
development are provided along one side of the 10-acre project, and walking and biking are
encouraged. Lease-on-demand vehicles and good access to local public transportation help
connect the residents of this suburban-style development to the central city.
Less than five miles from Atlanta, over half of East Lake Commons is protected as open
space. At the request of the residents-to-be, key habitat was set aside as a wildlife
corridor and an on-site spring was protected with a buffer zone. The remaining green space
is dedicated to a small orchard, a working organic garden and a village green.
Environmentally friendly design extends to the housing itself -- it is designed and
constructed to be energy efficient and environmentally responsible. Storm-water runoff
generated from paved surfaces is treated before being released.
The project offers two-, three- and four-bedroom homes and reserves 5 percent of its
units as affordable housing. By offering play areas for kids, shared work facilities and
other communal resources in a pedestrian-friendly design, East Lake Commons reduces the
number of trips residents must make while providing housing that fits the area.
Photo by: Clayton Preston
Wal-Mart (Austell) New Wal-Mart Adds to Sprawl Woes
Wal-Mart has become an icon of sprawl. And rightly so. In the chain's
rush to conquer, it will put up as many stores as an area can handle, and then some. A
Super Wal-Mart in Austell shows how big-box retailers -- as these stores are known -- can
suck the life out of an area and accelerate sprawl.
But the Wal-Mart in question is actually not new to the community -- it merely moved to
a bigger space one-eighth of a mile from its previous site, which is now closed. Just like
Wal-Marts around the world, it is a big shoe-box-shaped building in the middle of a
massive parking lot. It is built on open space and isolated from public transit.
Austell is being devoured by sprawl. A lot of mature forest land has become
increasingly valuable, and the area has undergone a surge of recent development
Area roads are buckling under heavy traffic, and Austell's air is suffering, too.
Meanwhile a half-dozen stores have recently closed as poorly planned growth hop-scotches
across the countryside.