Detour: No Suburbs Ahead
In the Capital of Sprawl, one rural enclave still hasn’t
been cul-de-sacked. Will a new plan help it remain intact?
By Jonathan Lerner
Metropolitan Atlanta is famous for its booming economy and infamous
for its sprawl. So the placid survival of 40,000 virtually undeveloped
acres of woods and pastures, rock outcrops, and creeks just 30 miles
from downtown seems unbelievable, even to locals. Named for the
river that marks its western boundary, the area is called the Chattahoochee
Hill Country (CHC).
Image Courtesy Ecos Environmental Design, Inc.
An hour’s drive in almost any other direction from central
Atlanta amounts to a dispiriting stop-and-go through a chaos of
cul-de-sac subdivisions and clotted arterial roads. But the two-lane
roads lacing the CHC, in the southwest corner of Fulton County,
are nearly traffic free. Forest stands of mixed pine and hardwood,
old farmsteads, and the occasional bereft stone chimney dot the
piedmont vistas. Intersections are edged by remnant settlements
with names like Cackle Corner and Redwine.
That the CHC endures in a bucolic condition confirms in the inverse
the truism that if you build it (infrastructure, that is) they will
come. To date, the CHC district, though only 20 minutes’ drive
from Hartsfield International, the world’s busiest airport,
is penetrated by no major highway and has almost no sewer lines.
Thus, it has escaped Atlanta’s relentless suburbanization.
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