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Second draft of 2040 Plan to be reviewed

By Kevin Elliott

The second draft of Birmingham’s citywide master plan for 2040 is scheduled to be reviewed by the city’s planning board over the course of four meetings in the coming months, the planning board announced at its meeting on Wednesday, October 13.

The 2040 Plan sets out long-range planning goals for the city and its various zoning districts and serves as a guide for future development and land use. The plan specifically addresses ways to manage growth in the city while retaining neighborhood quality and supporting mixed-use districts. The plan also addresses sustainability practices, regarding streets, parks and infrastructure.

The Birmingham City Commission and Planning Board acknowledged receipt of the second draft of the plan, which will undergo another review and revision in 2022 before a final draft is prepared. Public review sessions hosted by the city’s planning board are scheduled for November 10, December 8, January 12 and February 9. The review then goes to the city commission for final approval, before being returned to consultants with DPZ CoDesign who will draft a third version of the plan, repeating the process.

“This is the second draft,” said Birmingham Planning Board Chair Scott Clein. “Certainly, there are things they didn’t pick up, and we will discuss those over the course of four meetings. We will come back with recommendations and edits to get to draft three. It’s still an ongoing process.”

Feedback on the first draft of the 2040 plan include more than 300 comments from the public. Areas of greatest concern included the concept of neighborhood “seams,” accessory dwelling units, open space and density.

The seams concept looks at each zoning district as a fabric, with the edges of those fabrics considered “seams.” The plan shows instances where fabrics can be woven together or better utilized.

Birmingham Planning Director Nick Dupuis said seams have been drastically reduced in the second draft.

“The focus has shifted heavily to connectivity,” he said. “The seams are dedicated as the edges of planning districts now. They recognize that these edges are on larger roads and should have more consideration for non-automobile users. Medium- and high-intensity seams are also reduced and most are located where there are already high intensity and multi-family developments.”

Dupuis also noted the plan addresses accessory dwelling units in specific zoned areas, which doesn’t include single-family districts. The plan also encourages the preservation of open space in each of the zoning districts.

The first review meeting with the Birmingham Planning Board is scheduled for November 10, where board members will discuss the introduction of the plan and the first chapter, regarding connectivity in Birmingham. On December 8, the board will meet to discuss managed growth; on January12, the board will discuss the plan’s chapter regarding retaining neighborhood quality; and on February 9, the board will discuss mixed-use districts and sustainability.

The public is invited to each of the review meetings, which include a required public hearing. The public may review the second draft of the plan and provide comments at online.

Birmingham Planning Board member Bryan Williams instructed staff to update the plan with more detailed maps.

“The most visually troubling part of the draft is the lack of street names in the maps. …We can’t expect the public to look at this diagram and figure out where their street is and where their location is, particularly those that relate to proposed seams. I looked at this, and it took me a half-hour to get through one map,” Williams said. “By November 10, I want these pages replaced with maps that are bigger and more decipherable by street names.”

Board member Bert Koseck agreed, asking for color coding among districts to be updated with more contrasting hues.

Dupuis said staff plans to update the maps, and encouraged board members and members of the public to contact city staff with any questions or comments.


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