A study session was held at the Wednesday, August 28, Birmingham Planning Board meeting to continue discussions on preparations for the citywide master plan for 2040.
Board chair Scott Clein said, “This is preliminary material. We're here to talk about what they've collected. There will be continuous public comment. The process will continue through at least next spring. This is the first stab at structure, looking at setting up a document that begins with vision, then moves into neighborhoods, mixed-use districts, implementation and then context.
Clein continued, turning to consultants Matt Lambert, project manager from DPZ, Sarah Traxler from McKenna and Bob Gibbs from Gibbs Planning, “Birmingham should continue to define its neighborhoods and its centers, and Birmingham should build on its successes. Birmingham should focus on sustainability, and I don't mean just economic sustainability, but sustainability through diversity and diversity of age.”
“What role should Birmingham play as it develops into a polycentric place – that is part of the vision,” board member Robin Boyle commented, as the plan is to looking forward as the entire region changes. “That is part of what a masterplan asks at the get go.”
Board member Bryan Williams said, “There is a fundamental deficiency in the plan and that is the schools – there is nothing about schools in the plan. You can't talk about neighborhoods without talking about schools. It talks about parks, and schools are more important that parks in my opinion. Schools are one of the top two or three things we have to maintain. If we don't do that, we all know communities in this region that have failed, and it's almost impossible to recover from.”
Clein brought up the issue of prioritizing sustaining and maintaining residential neighborhoods.
“We need to find additional housing that is attainable, whatever that means for people, to age-in-place, and for young families to move into.”
The board also said it was important that the Triangle District be integrated into the plan, as well as slowing vehicular traffic.
“Ground floor spaces must be pedestrian-oriented to maintain walkability,” Clein noted.
He also cautioned Lambert that having issues “buried in sections in wonky little statements” was not what the board was looking for, but rather having clear sections that residents can read and understand.
Lambert said a third, and final, public survey will be conducted in mid-October.
Further discussions on the master plan will be held with the city commission on Monday, September 23, and Monday, November 25 and and with the planning board on Wednesday, September 25.
A completed first draft of the master plan is expected to the city commission in late January or early February 2020.