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  • By Lisa Brody

Public can participate in city master plan process

The process of creating a new citywide master plan for 2040 for Birmingham has begun, with the city developing a website, B2040, which will detail the process, history, documents and how residents can participate, with the first of three surveys for residents and property owners scheduled to be issued in April.

The Birmingham Plan is the city's primary way to comprehensively learn and evaluate its present condition and recent past, and determine how to shape the future of the city. Birmingham has utilized citywide master plans since 1929, as well as area-specific plans, such as for the Rail District, or topic focused plans, such as the Multi-Modal Transportation Plan. City leaders are looking for the participation and input of residents and those who use the city throughout the 2019-2020 planning process.

In late October 2018, Birmingham city commissioners approved the contract of DPZ Partners, LLC, to provide professional services to prepare an update to the city's comprehensive master plan in the amount of $298,000.

From April through October, online and hard copy surveys will be made available to residents and property owners. The surveys will begin with a focus on general topics related to planning to give the DPZ Partners ideas of strategic issues for further analysis and exploration. The next surveys will pay more particular attention to targeted topics that arose during the prior survey(s) and in-person engagement activities.

In addition, in April and May, roundtable discussions will be held with neighborhood groups, high schoolers and other identified groups who will be invited to participate in discussions on how they envision Birmingham for the future.

“The centerpiece of the public engagement program is a week-long Charrette from May 14th through the 21st. Residents won’t want to miss this exciting event with public presentations, meetings focused on specific topics, targeted stakeholder meetings, and other methods of engaging Birmingham residents and property owners,” the website stated. “These activities will be recorded for those who aren’t able to participate in some or all of the scheduled events. Charrettes are periods of intense design and public engagement, during which future plans are developed with stakeholder input and review. This design process has been used with great results worldwide, including during the development of the Birmingham 2016 Downtown Plan in 1996," also developed by DPZ Partners, formerly known as Duany Plater-Zybeck.

The results of the Charrette will be available when the planning team reassembles for in June for a two-day clinic, with specific dates and location to be announced.

The goal of the master plan process is for DPZ to have a foundational understanding of the characteristics of Birmingham, from neighborhood physical characteristics to demographic trends likely to be realized in the ensuing years. The study and analysis of “what makes Birmingham, Birmingham” is an important process element and allows the planning and design team to appropriately craft plans and recommendations for locally-appropriate future development, whether public or private.

They will then move on to focus on implementation. The master plan will contain plans and designs covering the entire city broken down into neighborhoods, corridors and nodes. “Birmingham’s downtown is an example of a node while the Rail District running parallel to S. Eton St. is an example of a corridor. As the city’s nodes and corridors have received significant attention since 1980, this master plan will specifically address Birmingham’s neighborhoods while also updating the nodes and corridors,” the city stated. To function as a tool for future zoning decisions and regulations, the master plan will include a Future Land Use Map which guides how individual parcels may be used over time.

DPZ and its representatives will regularly meet with city officials and attend planning board and city commission meetings, giving careful consideration to alternative concepts, creative ideas and potential problems to be solved during the master planning preparation effort.

For regular updates, visit

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