ATLANTA - The business community must buy into any anti-sprawl proposal to make it work, Gov. Roy Barnes told a conference on smart growth this week.
"Government cannot accomplish by force anything effective and long term for smart growth," the governor said during a panel session on the role of the private sector in a state's smart-growth strategy. "It has to be profitable for the private sector."
Mr. Barnes appeared Tuesday with Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a fellow Democrat and smart-growth proponent, as guests of the Urban Land Institute, sponsors of the three-day conference for development professionals, transportation planners and advocates of open-space preservation and transit alternatives.
He explained that private-sector leaders were skeptical about his plans to create the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority and preserve green space in rapidly growing counties until he showed them the economic advantages of each proposal.
In the case of the transportation authority, approved by the General Assembly last year, the governor said, he stressed that an agency was needed with the power to steer growth in metro Atlanta into areas with access to mass transit. Otherwise, worsening traffic congestion would hurt Georgia's ability to recruit new businesses, he said.
"States compete for smart people in a market where jobs are readily available," he said. "They'll choose a place that is doing the best job preserving quality of life."
Mr. Glendening said he was able to use state financial incentives to encourage developers to revitalize existing neighborhoods, while refusing to offer similar aid to builders intent on breaking ground in outlying undeveloped areas for subdivisions and commercial strips.
"You can be very aggressive on something like smart growth and still have extraordinary prosperity," Mr. Glendening said.
Reach Dave Williams at (404) 589-8424.