Talking Goals, Needs, and Opportunities at the Community Market

When it comes to creating a strong plan, setting the right direction is a critical first step. To make sure we’re developing strategies that address the issues that really matter to the Norcross community, we’re validating the City’s current goals and seeking input on key needs and opportunities. To begin collecting input, the team set up at the Norcross Community Market on August 11th to talk to neighbors, business owners, and visitors about their vision and how to make our City even better. Read on to find out what they said.




Do we have the right goals in place?

Each of the five goals from the current Comprehensive Plan were posted and people were asked to vote if they think the goal is still important or not, as well as to share their thoughts on key needs and opportunities for the City to address related to each. (Check out the current plan here. There's more information on the goals beginning on page 8.) By and large, they felt the goals established by the community in 2014 are still on target and had plenty of ideas for the next steps the City can take to advance them.

Goal 1: Continue to define Norcross’ sense of place

Most people (89%) said this is still an important goal for Norcross, and a few (11%) weren’t sure about it. They think we could do a better job promoting the Norcross brand, in terms of both its physical presence and online:


  • Physical Presence

  • Better promote Norcross as a brand

  • Add signs at West Peachtree St and Jimmy Carter Blvd

  • Add informational marquee signs in various locations, like Holcomb Bridge Rd and Peachtree Industrial Blvd

  • Establish landscaping standards

  • Improve streetscapes and add unique features

  • Preserve older neighborhoods

  • Continue to develop downtown

  • Purchase as many downtown buildings as possible

  • Expand the sense of place east of Buford Hwy

  • Like it the way it is—leave it alone

Online Presence

  • Translate the brand online and via social media with hashtags like #myathens or #yeahthatgreenville

  • Post daily on Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms to help boost visibility

  • Improve the City website—it’s been under construction for too long

  • Involve groups like Young Norcross in building the online presence

Goal 2: Continue to strengthen Norcross as a livable and safe environment

All of the participants agreed this goal is still important, and their biggest issues are related to affordable housing types and walkable/bikable neighborhoods. To make this a reality, they think a few things are needed:

  • Housing that is affordable for young families and couples, like rental options, condos, lofts, newly built starter homes (under ~$300,000), and maybe even tiny homes

  • Housing that works for seniors, like condos and one-level, single-family homes with zero step entries

  • More restaurants and after dinner activities, especially an ice cream shop and breweries!

  • Better connect neighborhoods with sidewalks and bike paths

  • Better enforce stop signs and speed limits, especially downtown

  • Remove old, unused railroad tracks downtown

  • Share regular status updates for projects like Beaver Ruin Creek Greenway

  • Integrate the action items from the Sustainability Plan into the Comprehensive Plan work program

Goal 3: Increase opportunities for travel via different modes within and outside the community

Everyone agreed this goal still matters, and bike paths and easy connections to MARTA are important additions:

  • Build trails, greenways, and bike lanes

  • Provide shuttle service to the Doraville MARTA Station

  • Bring MARTA into Gwinnett County, and actively participate in Gwinnett County transit efforts in general

  • Provide additional public parking downtown Locate daily services (e.g. grocery store or doctor’s office) in walkable areas

  • Set up a local circulator shuttle connecting to daily services, especially for seniors

Goal 4: Maintain a vibrant economy and continue to facilitate job growth

This is still an important for most people (94%) and they see growing the unique, local businesses in and around downtown as key:

  • Prioritize renovating and occupying existing buildings before new construction

  • Bring in more local restaurants and shops, even if that means competition for existing businesses

  • Offer new types of businesses downtown, like a food hall, microbrewery, or kids’ play businesses, like Farmhouse in the City in Roswell

  • Create a “shop local” program

  • Tap into the informal entrepreneurial energy already happening in places like the Bella and Stanford Village Apartments—help those residents grow their businesses

  • Facilitate easy access to MARTA rail to attract new businesses

  • Renovate the industrial area near Langford Rd and Buford Hwy as an opportunity for incubators and offices walking distance to downtown

  • Offer programs like science lessons in multiple languages to help high school students build professional vocabulary in languages other than English

  • Make it easier for new businesses to come into town, there are too many hurdles right now

Goal 5: Further the City’s tradition of strong leadership and a high level of quality services

There was consensus that providing good leadership and services is still important, and an intentionally inclusive approach with clear communication is desired:

  • Continue to get a diverse range of input and involve a broad mix of community members in City decisions

  • Improve communications with the public

  • Offer materials in multiple languages

  • Establish vision and leadership

  • Take actions related to this objective, don’t just plan



Where are there issues or opportunities to do more?

We asked people to share locations where they’ve identified issues or have ideas for improvements. Here’s what they said:


  • Transportation

  • Add a roundabout at the intersection of Academy St and Lawrenceville St

  • Add reflective paint to the curb on Langford Rd north of the railroad; you can’t see the turn at night

  • Fill in missing sidewalks along S Peachtree St

  • Lower the speed limit to 20 mph downtown

  • Enforce the speed limit, especially around Holcomb Bridge Rd and Peachtree Industrial Blvd

  • Add bike sharrows, landscaping, shade, and seating along all major roads

  • Install pedestrian crossings with hawk signals (push button for flashing light) along Beaver Ruin Rd

  • Install covered, protected bus stops with seating along Beaver Ruin Rd

  • Better City signage and distinctive street lights on Buford Hwy from Beaver Ruin Rd to Jimmy Carter Blvd

Parks and recreation

  • Build a dog park

  • Build an education pavilion, educational trail, and pollinator garden at Beaver Ruin Creek

  • Improve Pinnacle Park with passive nature trails, educational information about the environment, a bird/wildlife sanctuary, and a pavilion

Businesses

  • More downtown businesses, including a brewpub, that can compete with places like Duluth

  • Open an ice cream shop on Buford Hwy

  • Locate a grocery store on Buford Hwy near downtown

Development

  • Keep historic, low density, single-family homes near downtown

  • No more senior housing

  • Preserve the area around Norcross Elementary School for single-family homes

  • Stop building on undeveloped land, it increases traffic and forces out wildlife

  • Consider drainage issues when approving building permits; the creek banks are eroding where there used to be no problem

Community Services

  • Could all of Downtown Norcross go to one school? It’s currently split across school zones

  • Expand the community center and offer senior services

  • Offer an after school program near the intersection of Buford Hwy and Jimmy Carter Blvd


How can our regulations better support the vision?

The City of Norcross is also in the process of creating a new Unified Development Ordinance, which will combine and improve upon the existing Zoning Ordinance and Development Regulations. We shared some of the key project goals with them and asked what they'd like to add:

  • Clarify organization, numbering, and referencing

  • Write each zoning district as a standalone section, reducing references to previous districts

  • Ensure written regulations and zoning map are aligned

  • Use graphics, tables, and charts to summarize and clarify regulations

  • Consolidate similar regulations and standards into one location

  • Establish a supplemental regulations article to address regulations for certain uses (e.g. drive throughs) that apply to all districts

  • Clarify the process for administrative procedures

  • Make sign regulations content neutral

  • Incorporate sustainable building practices

  • Align regulations with the Comprehensive Plan

Their suggested additions included:

  • Stronger protections for trees

  • Not all regulations are currently being enforced, especially sign and tree regulations

  • Address accessory dwelling units, AirBnB, and tiny homes


What do you think about the input we received at the Community Market? Share your thoughts by adding a comment below.

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