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First talks begin on working with city 2040 Plan

By Grace Lovins

Birmingham’s Planning Board discussed the first steps of implementing the city's 2040 Master Plan during a study session on Wednesday, December 13, with the board agreeing the city’s zoning ordinances and parking should be considered top priorities.

The 2040 Plan was adopted in its entirety by the city commission on May 22, 2023. Included in the plan were roughly 130 recommendations throughout 33 key areas.. Since the plan was adopted, the city’s boards and commission now have to prioritize and consider the plan’s recommendations for implementation.

Planning director Nick Dupuis stated in the meeting packet the city’s planning division thinks the first major step in implementing the plan should be a comprehensive update of the zoning ordinances. Most of the board agreed the zoning ordinances will require a broad overhaul.

Other board members noted specific aspects of the zoning ordinances that they think should be prioritized, including residential areas and the Triangle District. Collectively, the board agreed that the zoning ordinances as a whole should be a priority.

While the board agreed on important elements they would like to see addressed rather quickly, Dupuis and board member Bryan Williams noted an action plan is needed to report to the city commission.

The master plan lists several of Birmingham’s boards and policies in its summary of the key actions. Planning board members noted that they feel it would be beneficial to see what other boards think in terms of prioritization before they dive into implementing the plan from a planning standpoint.

“It would be nice if the other boards that are listed in section C had the opportunity to look at this, see what was identified for them and say, ‘Hey, in our mind we prioritize it this way,” said chairperson Scott Clein. “It would be helpful I think. I think ultimately some of that is going to kind of fall in line with wherever we feel we need to go from a planning perspective, but it might be nice to know that up front to start this cooperative process.”

Clein closed out the board’s discussion of the implementation plan by summarizing what board members would like to see at the next study session in January along with what the board’s deliverables would be. He explained there is a portion that focuses on process, mechanisms, communication, outreach, etc. The board also sees a portion discussing the short-term elements of changing the zoning ordinances based on the new land use plan.

“There’s a longer term piece on residential zoning. There’s a longer term piece on parking, if I’m just making big buckets. Then there is another piece that’s the political bucket of, ‘We think it’s important but we can do nothing about it unless you push forward,’” Clein continued.

No formal action was taken by the board. Residents can expect to hear more discussions about the implementation process of the master plan during the planning board’s first meeting in January of 2024.


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