Government Instructor Shares Tips on Managing Growth Effectively

March 16, 2017

Chrissy Marlowe, Carl Vinson Institute of Government

This article appeared in the March 2017 issue of the Georgia's Cities newspaper.
Chrissy Marlowe
For this month’s issue, Georgia’s Cit­ies spoke with Chrissy Marlowe to get her perspective on how cities can successfully manage growth. Mar­lowe is a Carl Vinson Institute of Gov­ernment faculty member working in the Governmental Training, Educa­tion and Development division. She instructs local elected officials and staff as well as members of boards, authorities and commissions in such areas as comprehensive plan­ning, quality growth, local government planning and development processes, and historic preservation. She also teaches in the Institute of Government’s Management Development Program.
GC: How would you describe growth in Georgia’s cities right now?
CM: If we are talking development growth, meaning growth of the built environment, I think that there is generally an increase in development post-recession. That of course, must be qualified by pointing out that Georgia is currently seeing different levels of popula­tion growth geographically and that has a marked im­pact on development. [See Mathew Hauer’s editorial for more]
GC: We often hear the term quality growth. What does this mean for cities?
CM: Quality growth is a relative term, but is often used to differentiate un-planned growth from the planned growth that cities seek. Quality growth is a term used to help focus planning and land use ef­forts on building community for all the people living in a city. Elements of such sustainable and planned growth include encouraging citizen participation and collaboration on planning for the future; preserving natural and historic resources; providing housing and transportation choices for the full range of a city’s population; fostering distinctive, attractive commu­nities; making development decisions predictable; in­tegrating appropriate uses at appropriate scales; and creating walkability. To me, quality growth in cities is about shaping the built environment so that it serves citizens in all capacities and creates spaces for citi­zens to come together and build community.
GC: What are the top 3-5 things city officials can do to successfully manage growth?
CM: For a city to successfully manage growth, they should have a plan for the future that encompasses all the elements that create community. The plan should be created through public participation and stake­holder involvement, use all of the available data, such as 2020 Decennial Census data, housing inventories, and environmental maps; and all decision-makers in a community should work from the plan to make deci­sions that further the community’s vision.
GC: In terms of development, what is in demand right now?
CM: For several years now, compact, walkable devel­opment with mixed uses has been in demand, with both baby boomers and millennials flocking to walk­able neighborhoods. Because of this, in Georgia we are seeing neighborhood and downtown redevelop­ment in order to enhance and improve areas that are underutilized, but are already served by a city’s infra­structure, as well as the creation of city centers.
GC: What are some good tools and resources that are available to cities to help manage growth?
CM: There are so many organizations and resourc­es, especially in Georgia, but here are a few of my favorites:
  • Georgia Department of Community Affairs-comprehensive planning and environmental management
  • Georgia Department of Transportation-Complete Streets policy and Context Sensitive Design Manual
  • University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute of Government-planning and environmental services and training
  • University of Georgia College of Environment and Design-design assistance, charrettes, student projects
  • Other organizations:
    • American Planning Association
    • Centers for Disease Control Resource Guide for Healthier Cities
    • Next City
    • City Lab
    • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Smart Growth Tools
GC: You teach the six-hour Managing Growth class for the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute. What will city officials who complete the class come away with?
CM: I have been teaching the Managing Growth: Economic and Natural Resource Issues class for close to 15 years, with the same team of instructors: Pratt Cassity, director, UGA Center for Community Preser­vation and Design; Liz Kramer, director, UGA Natu­ral Resources Spatial Analysis Laboratory, and Jeffrey Dorfman, UGA Agricultural and Applied Economics professor. We have revised and adapted this class of­ten to help city officials stay current with economic, planning, design and environmental tools they can use in their cities. The class includes a hands-on planning and growth activity to help them under­stand how to use these tools. City officials come away from the class understanding the complexity of city growth, and the tools needed to manage it in order to preserve and enhance the communities they live in.

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