Bill Shipp: Thoughtfulness lacking as state grows. The elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge, is that Atlanta is already too big.
Georgia is the nation's sixth fastest-growing state on a percentage basis and the fourth fastest-growing on a numeric basis. The Peach State population is spiraling upward at an annual rate of nearly 15 percent a year. Close to 40 counties - mostly in north Georgia - exceed the 15 percent growth rate.
More than 1 million people have moved into metro Atlanta since 2000. The pro-growth lobby would be happy to see another million or so new residents jam into metro Atlanta in the next two years.
To keep the river of people running, however, the boundless-growth enthusiasts must find an additional source for water. The water hunt - known innocuously in statehouse circles as interbasin piping - may become the No. 1 issue in next year's General Assembly. Pro-growth lobbyists plan to support bills that would facilitate the transfer of water from the so-called Other Georgia to booming metro Atlanta and north Georgia.
First, when water is taken away from one region to quench the thirst of another, the loser is deprived of economic potential. So the question arises: Why should the less-developed hinterlands give up their chance at prosperity so the greedy Atlanta developers can make another fast buck?
Second, the elephant in the room that no one wants to acknowledge, is that Atlanta is already too big. The "growth lobby" - the chambers of commerce, the Georgia Power Co. and other centers of wealth and expansion - views any discussion of slowing growth as treason.
Never mind that Atlanta already is splitting at the seams. Traffic is constantly snarled, not just on the expressways but on surface streets and neighborhood byways. The air is so polluted that it is making people sick. The influx of new people has put an impossible strain on the schools, health care and public safety. Crime is rampant. Metro Atlanta's jails are overflowing.
Just how are we going to accommodate more growth and still maintain a city that works and produces a quality of life worth living? Perhaps the money guys will wake up shortly and realize they could reap just as much profit by slowing growth and working smarter to make Atlanta livable again - and expanding growth to other areas.
Thanks Mr. Shipp. On our Coffee County Democratic Committee Web site we note:
"Let's Get Both Georgia's on the Move . . . ."
"Douglas, Coffee County, the Capital of the Other Georgia."