There are psychological terms that describe holding two opposing views. In many cases it’s not some great attribute, but simply acknowledgingly, that there is no easy answer or happy median.
This community’s struggle with residential growth is a perfect example of a double-edged sword or two-sided coin.
Consider this a point-counterpoint to get the issues out there for consideration.
• On the one hand, many of us grew up in this rural community and like it just the way it is – or perhaps we should say was – back when you knew most everyone’s name at whichever of the few restaurants in town you walked into. We don’t want to see new paved streets and more rooftops. Keep the county country, we might say.
• On the other hand, there is a genuine need for more housing here. This is not some governmental consultant’s PowerPoint item, it’s real. If you know anyone new to the community, ask what the search for a home was like?
• Point – Multi-family housing is often accused of being detrimental to a community – too many people crowding into formerly pastoral pastures and flooding school systems with students and roads, all requiring more government services and more taxes. Growth rarely pays for itself in the additional revenues it generates.
• Counterpoint – There is near zero available rental housing units for a younger person or family looking to rent. We know of several people with good jobs who are looking for rental homes in surrounding counties as there are absolutely none here available. Where will the future new teachers, service employees and nurses live?
• Fact – Pickens County is in the heart of a politically conservative stronghold across north Georgia and we don’t tolerate government telling us what we can do with our private property.
• Also Fact – When it comes to development, many people suddenly want an activist government placing rules on private property and business decisions and imposing government restrictions
• On the one hand, a lot of people don’t want to see the county grow beyond the current 33,000 population.
• On the other hand – a lot of people want to see new businesses open here which need a larger customer base to draw from. We can’t very well expect to have exciting, unique businesses, open when the population is not growing. If you want a Chik-fil-A, you gotta have enough people in the county to support it.
• Point – Building new subdivisions, particularly with lower-cost homes, may harm the local rural atmosphere and our property prices.
• Counterpoint – Businesses here can’t fill open positions and that is stifling local industry. If you consider that the average age in the county continues to creep up and many of the people moving here are retirees who expect services but have aged past entering the workforce themselves, it comes as no surprise that companies can’t fill jobs.
The best approach, the right answer so to speak lies somewhere in the middle, but exactly where or exactly how many new homes will fill some needs but not swamp us? Well, that’s best labeled To Be Determined.