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City embarking on comprehensive, city-wide update of Master Plan starting in 2019

Master Plans are the official statement of a local government's legislative body's vision for future development and conservation. These documents set goals and guide decision making on land use, development standards, transportation, housing, community facilities and more. On a functional level, a master plan is a roadmap for the development and refinement of the City's present and future needs. The master plan is the documentation of an approach to physical issues which will help the City achieve its goals. Because those goals can and will change over time, the master plan should be re-evaluated and updated on a regular basis.

The City of Birmingham has a history of implementing master plans and ordinances that are intended to guide and regulate the growth of the City in order to promote the type of development that the citizens and property owners value. Currently, the development of the City's planning and zoning regulations are principally governed by six documents which are currently available on the City website:

*The Birmingham Future Land Use Plan (1980);
*The Downtown Birmingham 2016 Plan (1996);
* The Eton Road Corridor Plan (1999);
*The Triangle District Plan (2007)
*The Alleys and Passages Plan (2012) and
*The Multi-Modal Plan (2013).

The Future Land Use Plan ("the Plan") was the last comprehensive master plan to be adopted by the City in 1980. The Plan made specific recommendations throughout the City that are intended to protect residential areas while at the same time made recommendations that would allow commercial areas to thrive. Since the adoption of the Plan, the City has updated the Master Plan through the additional subarea plans listed above. Those plans have been implemented through three overlay zones (Downtown, Triangle and Via Activation) and the rezoning of the rail district to MX (Mixed Use).  The Multi-Modal Plan adopted in 2013 is now the guiding document for the City in regards to transportation infrastructure, major right of way improvements and user accessibility issues. The cumulative effect of all the subarea plans has essentially updated the Future Land Use Plan in almost all of the commercially zoned areas of Birmingham.

The updating and implementation of master plans and subarea plans are important aspects of maintaining and improving the standard of excellence that is expected in Birmingham. Although the subarea plans listed above have been established in the City over the past 20 years, there has not been a comprehensive, city-wide Master Plan updated completed since the 1980 Future Land Use Plan. There are several components of the plan that included demographic data and projections that were based on a 20-year time frame (1980-2000). In addition, many of the land use policies and system analysis may be considered outdated now considering the advancements in technology and changes in lifestyle habits. Accordingly, much of the information provided in the Plan was intended to be projections up to the year 2000 and is in need of updating.

At this time, the City is embarking on a comprehensive, city-wide update of the 1980 Birmingham Plan and the formal inclusion of each of the subarea plans into an updated comprehensive master plan ("the Plan"). While some portions of the Birmingham Plan may continue to be relevant today, specific area that need to be updated include:

*Community vision and planning objectives;
*Update of Population section to include current demographic data, future projections and analysis;
*Update of Regional and Surrounding Development section to include current and projected demographic data (residential, retail, office, mix of land uses) and analysis of the region, regional and downtown development trends and regional collaboration efforts;
*Update of Residential Housing section to include neighborhood vision in the residential areas, analysis of changes in residential patterns and residential areas from 1980 to now, typology and character of neighborhoods, development trends, future projections and future direction;
*The physical characteristics of neighborhoods should be identified and documented including historic attributes, landscape conditions, housing type and the period of construction for each area;
*Review and update of Transportation section to include current vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle data, recent and currently budgeted improvements, current multi-modal trends, regional transportation projects and future recommendations based on regional and national best practices;
*Update and review of existing land use, update recommendations for future land uses and updated future land use map including the area of Woodward between 14 Mile Rd. and Lincoln, known as the S. Woodward gateway;
*Parking analysis and recommendations for both public and private parking regulations throughout the entire City. This will include consideration of parking requirements, public parking needs, potential for shared parking as well as emerging and innovative technologies; 
*Review and update of the Policies section to encourage the implementation of the City's vision, current goals, best practices, current technological advances and innovative policies.

This new plan will be spearheaded by the renowned planning and design consulting firm DPZ Co Design, led by Andres Duany, one of the firms' founders. DPZ Co Design has prior experience in Birmingham. DPZ Co. Design prepared the Downtown 2016 Plan that was adopted in 1996.

The Master Plan update process will begin in February 2019 and continue for approximately 18 months. One of the primary focuses of the update will be to study the residential areas of Birmingham to evaluate existing conditions and prepare a vision for the future. Throughout the process, there will be extensive public visioning sessions, a new app, a website, phone interviews and public meetings. Additional details will be provided in the next couple of months.

Anticipated timeline:
* Kickoff-January 2019
*Charrette-May 2019 (information on what a Charrette is will be coming soon)
*First Draft-May-October 2019
*Second Draft-November-February 2020
*Adoption-June 2020

To get updates on the City's Master Plan process, you are encouraged to sign up through the City's enotify system at:
http://www.bhamgov.org/enotify/

You can also contact City Planning Director Jana Ecker by email at jecker@bhamgov.org, Senior Planner Matthew Baka at mbaka@bhamgov.org and City Planner Brooks Cowan at bcowan@bhamgov.org.