The Council Celebrates 30 years: Check out our Video!
On Friday, December 4th, the Council for Quality Growth celebrated its 30th Anniversary. Since our inception, we have provided a voice for regional leaders and provided a table where all interested parties could voice their concerns and ideas on how to make Georgia's communities vibrant, resilient, and sustainable. Governor Nathan Deal delivered the keynote address at our 30th annual luncheon at the Westin Perimeter North.  With over 200 people in attendance, the event was a great success. Click below to see the video presented on Friday's event:

Governor Nathan Deals Speaks About Transportation, Education at 30th Anniversary Annual Meeting

Governor Nathan deal delivered the keynote address at Council's 30th Annual Meeting Luncheon last Friday, December 4th.  Deal urged the Council's 200+ members in attendance to support the lawmakers who helped pass House Bill 170 earlier this year. The bill, expected to provide $1 billion in revenue by 2020, will be used by GDOT to address their backlog of maintenance projects across the state. To raise the much needed revenue, the new law:
  • Lifts the gas tax for the average driver about 6 cents a gallon.
  • Imposes a new $5 per-night charge on hotel stays.
  • Levies a new annual fee of at least $200 on electric vehicle owners.
  • Reduces the state income tax credits for low-emission vehicles to zero.
  • Imposes a $50-$100 annual fee for heavy trucks.
Made possible by a strong bipartisan effort, Gov. Deal asserted his unwavering support for legislators who risked their political office and faced unrelenting attacks from tea party members and fiscal conservatives to push through the much needed law. Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Speaker David Ralston, along with the Metro Atlanta Chamber of Commerce also are on record as expressing their support for HB170.

As regards education, Council members were also urged to support a constitutional amendment next November that would permit the state to intervene in schools which score below 60 on the Georgia Department of Education and Career Ready Performance Index for three straight years. At present there are 139 failing schools attended by 80,000 Georgia students. Deal's appeal was summarized in the following statement:

"You don't eat at a restaurant that has received an 'F'. You certainly wouldn't require your child to eat there. Yet, we require our children to feed their minds at these chronically failing schools. This constitutional amendment will give us an opportunity to change that."

The Council for Quality Growth thanks Governor Nathan Deal for his participation in Friday's Annual meeting.

To read more about Deal's defense of HB170, click HERE.

For more information on the proposed constitutional amendment, click HERE

Atlanta Regional Commission's Region's Plan Released for Public Comment

The Atlanta Regional Commission released the Atlanta Region's Plan and interactive website this week. The 25 year long-range plan was developed around three major focus areas: Providing World Class Infrastructure, Building a Competitive Economy, and ensuring the development of Healthy, Livable Communities. Some of the action items discussed in the plan include improving transit options, fostering the application of technology, support the movement of freight and goods, protecting the region's water supply and quality, investing in access to a variety of housing options, developing a regional approach to workforce development and ensuring employment centers support innovation.

The Plan was released Monday, December 7th and will be open for public comment through January 15th. Public Comment can be submitted to or by phone at 404-463-3272. The ARC will host an open house with morning and afternoon sessions on Thursday, January 14th to discuss the plan goals and action items.

Click HERE to view summaries of the plan goals and action items on the interactive Region's Plan website 

Click HERE to view the plan documents

Long-Term Federal Transportation Funding Bill Signed into Law
President Obama signed the nation's first long-term transportation funding bill into law on Friday, December 4th, immediately after it passed through the House and Senate. The FAST Act (Fixing America's Surface Transportation Act) was the result of the bi-partisan congressional committee report released last week, where compromises were made from the Senate's DRIVE Act and the House's STRR Act to create a strong piece of legislation that can provide greater stability and predictability for state and local transportation project planning and implementation. The FAST act extends transportation funding authorization for five years with a higher year-to-year baseline increase totaling $305 Billion in authorized funds. This includes funding for almost $50 Billion in transit projects and over $4 Billion to bicycle infrastructure over the next five years.

Click HERE to view a summary and full text of the FAST Act

The table below was prepared by the Georgia Transportation Alliance to illustrate the funding structures of the House STRR Act and Senate Drive Act compared to the final FAST Act.

Milton City Council Denies Approval of Conservation Subdivision Ordinance

On Monday, December 7th, Milton Mayor and Council denied the approval of a controversial conservation subdivision ordinance. James Touchton, Director of Policy and Government Affairs at the Council for Quality Growth provided public comment on the draft ordinance. Touchton explained that the Council supports the use of conservation subdivisions as a way for cities to preserve open space; however, he urged City Council to address the vague language in the draft ordinance and make it explicitly clear that it would be a voluntary option for subdivision development. Touchton also asked that incentives be included to encourage conservation in the form of increased lot yield or parks and recreation impact fee credits.

Click HERE to read the letter submitted by the Council to Mayor Lockwood and City Council. After hearing public comment from over 50 interested groups and residents, the Milton Council agreed that the ordinance in its current form was not suitable and voted unanimously to deny adoption. The adoption of a voluntary conservation subdivision ordinance as a means for preserving the rural character of the city will be reconsidered during the comprehensive planning process to begin early next year.

The Council commends Mayor Lockwood and City Council for recognizing the issues with the ordinance in its current form and denying approval until a balanced ordinance that is supported by residents and the development community alike is offered.

Click HERE to view the draft ordinance
Georgia Legislature to Review Cityhood Process in Next Legislative Session
In next year's legislative session, the Georgia Legislature will review recommendations intended to bring greater clarity to the cityhood application process. Proposed changes from both a study committee in the House and a taskforce in the Senate could include a 2 year cityhood review process and an assessment of the financial impacts which incorporation or annexations could have on surrounding school systems, counties, and municipalities. Additional requirements from the House could also include having applicants define their boundaries within their first year of review. Lawmakers began review of the cityhood process after the discord which emerged during the proposed forming of the cities of LaVista Hills and Tucker. If adopted, the proposed changes could impact several areas considering cityhood including Stonecrest, South Fulton, Greenhaven, Sharon Springs and St. Simon's Island.

To read more about proposed changes from the House of Representatives Study Committee, click HERE

Council Member Steven Labovitz Featured in Saporta Report
Council for Quality Growth Treasurer Steven Labovitz was published in the Saporta Report on December 8th, 2015. His article expresses the strong belief that, despite the many nay-sayers, the construction of the Mercedes-Benz Stadium presents an incredible opportunity to attract investment in and spur the revitalization of neighboring Westside communities. Citing the dramatic transformation of communities neighboring Coors Field in Denver and Petco Park in San Diego, Mr. Labovitz reminds us of the "immeasurable emotional and reputational worth" of these type of infrastructure investments- as well as "their capacity for injecting millions of dollars into the local economy and creating hundreds of well-paying jobs." 

Steven Labovitz is a senior partner in the global law practice Dentons. A former chief of staff of the City of Atlanta, he specializes in economic development at the intersection of business and government.
To read the complete article published by the Saporta Report, click HERE

Check Out Our 30th Anniversary Edition In the Loop 

The success of any great city doesn't happen by accident. Regulation that supports quality growth and protects communities doesn't simply appear. It requires the ongoing collaboration and thoughtful planning of growth and development industry leaders who come together to strategically address economic planning, infrastructure needs, and challenging quality-of-life issues throughout the metro Atlanta region and state.
The Council for Quality Growth, which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year, provides a voice for these regional leaders, bringing all interested parties to the table and providing an effective forum for problem solving to help ensure continued growth and economic success for generations to come.

Click HERE to read the complete version of the 30th Anniversary In the Loop

December 11th, 2015

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5901-C Peachtree Dunwoody Road
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Atlanta, GA 30328