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Speak up on new Birmingham Master Plan

Master plans for cities are documents and policy guides that are designed to help the community, their elected leaders and staff create a long term vision of what everyone wants it to look like in the future. It is a living, breathing guide – a road map that helps planners and city officials determine land use, development, reinvestment, transportation, housing and infrastructure renovation for the next 20 to 30 years. And right now, the residents of Birmingham have the opportunity to have their say on how they'd like to see the future of Birmingham grow and thrive.


The city of Birmingham began its new master plan process in 2018, when Birmingham city commissioners approved a contract of DPZ Partners, LLC, to provide professional services to prepare an update to the city's comprehensive master plan, seeking to focus on the neighborhoods, residents, and how they work with one another, parks, downtown, transportation and other issues, as the widely followed 2016 Plan focused on the downtown area. It's all about managed growth for the city for the next generation. A master plan does not dictate what will occur, but provides guidance for development and ordinances.


This new master plan is the first citywide master plan since 1980. A series of public surveys, roundtables and charrettes were held for DPZ to learn how to craft the 2040 Master Plan, and then drafts were presented to the city's planning board and city commission.


After over four years, the arduous work is almost done, with the Birmingham City Commission set to hold a public hearing at their meeting on January 11, of the final draft, and in February, the plan could be approved.


It's now residents' turn to comment – and it's an important part of the process.


On October 3, the city commission authorized a mandatory 63-day public distribution period for the city’s final draft of the 2040 Master Plan in order for residents and businesses to comment and provide their opinions and insights into the proposed plan before it is finalized and approved. In addition to those in Birmingham getting to speak out on the plan, the draft will be sent to surrounding municipalities, Oakland County, the Southeast Michigan Council of Governments (SEMCOG), CN North America, public utilities and SMART for review as well, as is customary.


Why does it matter what you think? For perspective, the city's 2016 Plan, which was adopted in 1996, was designed to address the city's downtown. It is a comprehensive document, microscopically focusing on streetscapes, architectural guidelines, retail, strategic sites throughout downtown Birmingham, as well as circulation. In 2022, it continues to influence development, planning and ordinance adoption and maintenance.


Read through the Master Plan 2040 on the city's website – engage.bhamgov.org/2040-master-plan – and comment if you are so inclined. The city of Birmingham will benefit from the feedback.

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