Citizens who attended the November 6 Buford Commission meeting were given the first glimpse of the city’s new 2045 Comprehensive Plan update.

The city, like other municipalities, must submit a comprehensive plan to the State of Georgia every five years. These plans are guides for cities and counties to use to plan future development and resources. If cities and counties in the state want to be eligible for a special financial package, they must submit comprehensive plans and receive a Qualified Local Government status.

Buford gave its residents several opportunities to help shape the new comprehensive plan through a community steering committee, two public hearings, an online survey and a multi-day workshop. Through these community input opportunities, the city has been able to adjust its plans. 

Priorities have shifted among Buford’s residents in every area that the plan focuses on.

In the Land Use category, Buford residents list maintaining the small town character, smart annexation and a demand for mixed-use development as a high priority for the future. Maintaining the character of a small town is important to many and this should be concentrated in the downtown district of the city with Main Street at its heart. Residents believe that the city should continue annexing property into the city but be strategic so that future development has as little impact on the city’s infrastructure and services. New mixed-use developments that are compact and provide a variety of uses are also highly desirable to the citizens of Buford.

The needs and concerns in the area of transportation that residents said were about roadway congestion, access to I-985, a lack of pedestrian facilities and golf carts. Roadway congestion, especially with the number of large trucks is a concern. The city should continue to look at opportunities to find alternate routes for trucks to travel while in the city. Currently, I-985 is only accessible at the northern and southern points of the city, while the heart of the city does not have easy access to this interstate. These two concerns can be addressed with a new access point to I-985, which is currently in the works for a new exit at Thompson Mill Road. Residents want to see more sidewalks and walking paths that are strategically placed to connect neighborhoods to activity centers within the city. The emergence of golf carts around the city has residents calling for the city to consider designating streets and trails that are suitable for golf cart use and possibly converting some public parking spaces to golf cart parking spots.

 Attainable housing and having a variety of housing types are the two biggest concerns regarding housing in the city. With the rising costs of buying a home in the city limits, residents want the city to focus on more attainable housing for any future development. Relating to attainable housing, having a variety of housing types is key. Residents wish to see more modest-sized single-story homes, senior living, loft-like apartments/condos and live/work units.

In the area of economic development, continued industrial development, downtown development, a desire for a grocery store, more entertainment and events and revitalization/redevelopment of underused sites. Industrial development provides crucial tax revenue for the city while having the least amount of impact on its resources. In the downtown area, residents want to enliven it with new public spaces. Even with the new Publix on Hamilton Mill Road, residents in the center of the city are still without a grocery store and strongly want one. Residents have voiced that they want to see new areas developed that allow for more entertainment and events such as concerts and festivals. Older strip malls are a concern of residents and they want those to be revitalized.

In terms of quality of life, maintaining top-notch schools, maintaining a high level of service/utilities, preservation of community safety, adding recreation options, preserving historic resources and maintaining a community safety net are high on residents’ list of priorities. Continued investment and excellence for Buford City Schools remains a top priority for residents, as is, maintaining a high level of city services and utilities. Residents expressed the need for more green spaces and recreation amenities. With the city’s rich history, many want the city to do more to preserve the city’s many historical buildings. The city has a relatively low rate of crime and citizens want that to continue. The city should work closely with other organizations that provide resources to “fill in the gaps” for citizens concerning food, shelter, healthcare and other resources for those struggling within Buford.

After hearing the residents’ needs and concerns, seven priority strategies were identified for the city to focus on in the future.

The city should take the downtown area “to the next level.” This means possibly revamping the public space of downtown, allowing patio dining, building a focal park, hosting more events and a larger variety of businesses and restaurants to call downtown home.

Maintaining excellent city services such as the top-ranked school system is listed as a top priority.

In terms of residential growth, the city should focus on “small, pocket infill opportunities.” Smaller footprint homes, especially near downtown are desirable.

The city should continue to attract employment opportunities and businesses to support its residents.

With the concerns regarding the city’s historical buildings, the city should establish a vision and plan for these buildings. The city should determine what role they should have in preserving the historic buildings and the community should clarify exactly what their goals are. 

The last two priority strategies go together, enhancing the network of sidewalks and trails and expanding the system of parks and green spaces. Residents in Buford want more recreational options and the city should focus on providing those opportunities for its residents.

To view the entire Buford 2045 Comprehensive Plan update, click here.

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