Planners stall on setting master plan hearing
By Grace Lovins
The Birmingham Planning Board stalled on scheduling the required public hearing for the 2040 Master Plan at their meeting on Wednesday, January 11, after multiple board members agreed the master plan could use more editing and an additional review of some topics.
Birmingham’s 2040 master plan – formally titled The Birmingham Plan 2040 – has been a work in progress for about four years and has cycled through three drafts. A master plan is a guide to help communities create a vision of what they want to be in the future, as explained by planning director Nick Dupuis in the meeting’s packet. Master plans are not ordinances but help to guide a community’s future decisions.
The mandatory 63-day public distribution period for the third draft concluded on December 30, and then headed back to the planning board to determine if the plan is ready for a public hearing. Several residents shared their concerns over the modification of zoning, particularly on the corner of E. Lincoln Street and S. Eton Street. Following an hour of public comments, board members Daniel Share and Janelle Boyce both agreed that it would be beneficial to explain what a master plan is and what it does before beginning discussions to clear up confusion since the plan does not rezone any areas.
Board member Bryan Williams shared he was concerned about the time frame after a public hearing was to take place, saying the board will need more time after the public hearing to make changes to the draft before it heads to the city commission. Although chairperson Scott Clein disagreed, noting that the board wouldn’t be able to make any significant changes to the draft after a public hearing, Williams remained adamant about that.
Share suggested, considering the edits that some believed should be made, that board members should form a list with different topics that the board would want to go over – a brief list of topics to get opinions on whether parts of the plan that are either already done or the commission has decided against, like social districts, should be kept. Williams, Stuart Jeffares and Bert Koseck concurred, adding another meeting isn’t a big deal given the draft process has already been going on for four years.
The board eventually came to the consensus they would hold off on scheduling a public hearing for the plan until their meeting on Wednesday, February 8, after they have a chance to review Share’s list of topics and any others brought up. No formal action was taken.