Urban Sprawl, Paused

I live in Cumming, Georgia, a rural suburb about 30 miles north of Atlanta. Cumming is growing very rapidly, and was listed on America’s Promise list of 100 Best Communities for Young People in 2012. It’s an interesting area, where you’ll find long -time rural residents mixed with newly transplanted yuppies. Cattle graze the peaceful rolling foothills of the north Georgia mountains, while the roads that pass their pastures are becoming increasingly crowded.

Half of the cars you pass on Cumming’s back country roads are pickup trucks, now sprinkled with the occasional BMW or Range Rover. The area still maintains a small town friendliness, it’s residents holding on to their strong southern accents. It’s the kind of place where the owner of the local convenience store, with it’s aging neon sign, will ask you which is your favorite flavor of coffee creamer, so he can keep it in stock. The kind of place where people greet their new neighbors with a basket of biscuits – even if they are only renting.

Mix in with these country residents a healthy dose of white collar workers hoping to escape the crowded suburbs like Alpharetta and Sandy Springs, but still wanting remain within commuting distance to their jobs in the city. These folks build huge houses on big plots of land, or buy a cookie cutter house in one of the many subdivisions that have popped up in rapid succession in the past decade. That is, until the recession hit, when things came to a screeching halt. Many of these new neighborhoods have been abandoned – marked off with a flimsy chain link fence or barbed wire, and left to sit. Until things get better.

Photo Mar 09, 4 47 16 PM

Who knows how long it will be before that lock is opened.

Photo Mar 09, 4 36 37 PM

Unfortunately, these abandoned areas have become an easy dumping ground.

One neighborhood in particular seems to have spent a substantial amount of time and money on the landscaping at the neighborhood's entrance. It has become overgrown somewhat, but for the most part it remains nicely manicured.

One neighborhood in particular seems to have spent a substantial amount of time and money on the landscaping at the neighborhood’s entrance. It has become overgrown somewhat, but for the most part it remains nicely manicured.

This is the road leading to one of the abandoned subdivisions. Many of the roads in Cumming are two lanes, and narrow, with lots of twists and turns. They hardly seem capable of handling the potentially dramatic increase in traffic.

Many of the roads in Cumming are two lanes, and narrow, with lots of twists and turns. They hardly seem capable of handling the potentially dramatic increase in traffic.

Photo Mar 09, 4 55 59 PM
I can’t help but think that the long-time residents of these rural areas such as the one who owns this pasture just across the street from an unfinished neighborhood, are glad that construction stopped.
Photo Mar 09, 4 36 11 PM

It’s sad to think of how different this scene could have been, with pretty houses and their perfecting manicured green lawns lining the street.

I just happened to notice that the moon was visible the afternoon that I took these photos, adding to the eerie feeling I felt while visiting.

I just happened to notice that the moon was visible the afternoon that I took these photos, adding to the eerie feeling I felt while visiting.

Photo Mar 09, 4 37 41 PM

Only wildlife are welcome beyond the fence.

The fence constructed to keep nosy neighbors and unruly teenagers off the property has fallen down, and no one seems to care.

The fence constructed to keep nosy neighbors and unruly teenagers off the property has fallen down, and no one seems to care.

Photo Mar 09, 4 26 00 PM

This barbed wire makes a firm statement. What will Cumming be like when it finally comes down?

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