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What is a Master Plan?
  
City-Wide Master Plan 
Stay Informed about the Citywide Master Plan 
City of Birmingham Master Plan History  Master Plan Charrette 

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Residents of Birmingham have recognized the value of planning since 1929, when Birmingham was still a village.  The very first master plan was primarily concerned with land use and zoning, but subsequent plans reflected the changing landscape of Birmingham as downtown development, growing neighborhoods, parks and mass transit drew increased focus from planners and residents.  In 2020, as we engage in comprehensive planning for Birmingham, input from our residents is essential to success.

The Planning Board has scheduled a series of meetings on key aspects of the master plan draft.  Beginning in February with an overview of the City’s vision, five meetings will be held to solicit resident input.  We invite you to join us for one or all of the meetings.  If you are unable to attend in person, all Planning Board meetings are broadcast on the BCTV government access channel and posted to the City’s website.  Download the Summary of The Birmingham Plan 2040 (Draft) Recommendations and Dates of Planning Board Review here. You can get full information on the plan and the planning process at www.thebirminghamplan.com.  The site includes relevant data, surveys and documents and an email communication option that allows residents to send comments directly to the planning team.  Please make sure your voice is heard.

** Please note due to COVID-19, a new schedule of meetings is to be determined for the remaining sections of the draft master plan. **


PLANNING BOARD UPDATE – A LIVELY DISCUSSION

The February 12 Planning Board meeting, which brought the latest draft of Birmingham’s master plan forward for public discussion was well attended with plenty of thoughtful discussion.  The meeting laid out the premises that form the framework of the draft plan and the overall vision for the City through 2040.  Planning Board members and most of the residents in attendance expressed support for the plan and offered comments that will be used to further develop our thinking.  Please remember that these notes represent individual opinions from your Planning Board members, neighbors and local business owners.  While some comments engendered broader support, these notes reflect the overall discussion not decision-making.  We’ve grouped the comments together to provide a quick snapshot of the meeting.

People

  • The master plan should always focus on people.
  • Neighborhood associations should be the conduit for information and feedback with the City.
  • How can we increase communication with residents and engagement by residents?
  • Could neighborhood “ambassadors” be employed to create community and facilitate engagement?

 Defining Plan Parameters and Language

  • Refine the definition of the Birmingham’s downtown and describe it’s role regionally.
  • Define micro-mobility.                  
  • Define social fabric, its relationship to urban planning and the idea of using planning to encourage social interaction. 
  • The plan should focus on the built environment and civic spaces rather than attempting to engineer social interaction.
  • Define “attainable” housing.
  • Define “diversity” of housing.
  • Define “resiliency” as it applies to neighborhoods.
  • Consider use of the term “planning districts” rather than neighborhoods.
  • Consider whether live/work spaces are viable in Birmingham.
  • If possible, provide a shorter version of the plan.
  • Have other communities been benchmarked during development of the plan?
  • Gather additional data around school enrollment and the percentage of residences with school-age children.

Neighborhoods

  • Create standards for infill housing.
  • General support for the concept of neighborhood centers and destination points such as parks and cafes.
  • Some communities have ordinances requiring city inspection before residential home sales.  Should Birmingham consider that?
  • Support for the concept of neighborhood “seams,” but some concern that residents on either side of the seam may not always agree on planning proposals for the area.
  • Continued concern over home demolition in neighborhoods.
  • Poppleton Park is beginning to experience increased demolition/rebuild.
  • Promote extending the life of existing homes by incentivizing renovation/rehab over demo/rebuild.
  • Introducing commercial aspects into neighborhoods is not desirable.
  • Home-flipping destabilizes neighborhoods.

Commercial and Mixed-Use Areas

  • Some concern that downtown development is too intense.
  • Office space is in increasing demand.
  • Planning around Lincoln and Fourteen Mile (the Mews) was supported.  It will buffer nearby single-family homes and provide more attainable housing.
  • Planning for South Old Woodward (Haynes Square) was supported.


Infrastructure and Roads

  • Support for a pedestrian bridge over Woodward at Maple.
  • Support for a 35MPH speed limit on Woodward.
  • Prioritize pedestrian crosswalks on Woodward and time traffic signals effectively.
  • Consider aging sewer/water and other infrastructure in the master plan.
  • Final recommendations from the Unimproved Streets Committee should be included in the master plan as appropriate.
  • An overall infrastructure component would strengthen the plan.

Environment

  • Consider including greater attention to climate change issues.  City should find ways to reduce its environmental footprint.
  • Take a more aggressive stance on supporting and enhancing the tree canopy throughout the City.  Preserve our older trees.
  • Concern about removing trees without replacing them and allowing building (commercial) without an appropriate greenbelt.
  • May need to develop an educational program around tree planting and maintenance for property owners.
  • Support for the planned improvements to the Rouge River watershed.

The next Planning Board meeting is scheduled for March 11 at 7:30pm in the Municipal Offices.  The Planning Board will review and discuss the Neighborhood Components section of the plan.  Public input is encouraged.  Please plan to attend.

NEIGHBORHOOD COMPONENTS – MARCH 11,2020

The Neighborhood Components discussion will focus on establishing standards and processes to maintain the unique character of each Birmingham neighborhood.  Proposals include aligning zoning districts and regulations, incentives to encourage additions to existing homes rather than new builds, increased setbacks and other requirements to ensure new construction better matches existing homes and new requirements around accessory dwelling units (ADU), multi-family units and cottage courts. 

Also included under neighborhood components are consistent parking permitting, evaluating open spaces, potential zoning for Neighborhood Commercial destinations to ensure alignment with the character of each neighborhood and establishing a City position of Neighborhood Coordinator to assist and support neighborhood associations.

Full details are available at www.thebirminghamplan.com.

NEIGHBORHOOD PLANS – APRIL 7, 2020

The Master Plan envisions each Birmingham neighborhood as a community with park and civic spaces and transit options designed to encourage connectivity within the neighborhood and with adjacent neighborhoods.  This meeting will discuss the neighborhood components outlined in the March meeting as they apply to individual neighborhoods.  Neighborhood components include a variety of topics such as zoning, commercial centers, lighting, parking, green spaces and street improvements. 

The Neighborhood Plans discussion will consider each Birmingham neighborhood in the following order:  1) Quarton  2) Holy Name  3) The Ravines  4) Poppleton  5) Derby  6)  Pembroke  7) Torry  8) Kenning  9) Pierce  10) Barnum  11) Crestview  12) Birmingham Farms  13) Lincoln Hills  14) Linden  15) Seaholm.

Full details are available at www.thebirminghamplan.com.

DOWNTOWN MIXED-USE DISTRICTS, MAPLE & WOODWARD, MARKET NORTH – MAY 13,2020

Birmingham is fortunate to have several, vibrant mixed-use districts in the City.  These districts enhance our quality of life, but growth and utilization must be carefully managed to ensure the district functions for all users.  In May, discussion will involve the two Downtown mixed-use districts Maple & Woodward and Market North.

Issues for discussion include: branding, signage and streetscape elements to clearly define the districts, new retail frontage and dining deck requirements, park improvements, expanded downtown housing with functional parking solutions and additional public parking solutions.  Proposed plans also call for numerous new amenities such as café service in Shain and Booth Parks, a Farmers Market pavilion, additional public art and pedestrian safety and traffic-calming measures.

Full details are available at www.thebirminghamplan.com.

HAYNES SQUARE, SOUTH WOODWARD GATEWAY, RAIL DISTRICT – JUNE 10, 2020

The three additional mixed-use districts in the City – Haynes Square, Woodward Gateway and the Rail District – are still emerging and will benefit from intelligent planning and development. Residents will be asked to review funding recommendations and siting for additional public parking, zoning standards to encourage development at Adams Square, shared-use alleys, potential access to the Troy Transit Center and the activation of the lower Rail District as an incubator for new and innovative businesses.  A number of amenities are outlined in the plan including creating a public square at Haynes Square, enhanced streetscape and landscape improvements, and new pedestrian walkways to improve walkability and connectivity to other mixed-use districts.

Full details are available at www.thebirminghamplan.com.

All Planning Board meetings are broadcast on the BCTV government access channel and are available on the City’s website.  Please visit www.thebirminghamplan.com for complete information on the plan and planning process, and an email option that allows residents to provide comments directly to the planning team.  The City will likely host additional round-table discussions and a multi-day drop-in clinic in the months ahead.  We encourage residents to attend the meetings whenever possible and we welcome your comments at any and all points of the process.  Please sign up for email alerts at www.bit.ly/bhamnews


What is a Master Plan?
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.


Citywide Master Plan
The City is working on a comprehensive, citywide 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 is 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 began in February 2019 and will continue for approximately 18 months. One of the primary focuses of the update has been studying residential areas of Birmingham and evaluating existing conditions to prepare a vision for the future. The process includes extensive public visioning sessions, a new app, a website, phone interviews and public meetings. 

Anticipated timeline:
* The project began in January, 2019
* A charrette was held in May, 2019 
* First Draft-May-October 2019
* Second Draft-November-February 2020
* Adoption-June 2020

Earlier this year, City Manager Joe Valentine discussed the citywide Master Plan process on a taping of “Eye On Oakland” with former City Commissioner and Mayor of Birmingham, Chuck Moss and his co-host, noted attorney Dave Potts. View the "Eye On Oakland" footage and learn more about the project.


Stay Informed about the Citywide Master Plan
To receive updates regarding the City's Master Plan process, you are encouraged to sign up through the City's enotify system at: http://www.bhamgov.org/enotify/. Also, sign up for the Citywide Master Plan Constant Contact group at www.bit.ly/bhamnews.

Visit www.thebirminghamplan.com for an overview of the process as well as ways for you to get email updates and submit your input on planning for the City's next 20 years.
Known as "The Birmingham Plan: A Citywide Master Plan for 2040", you will also be able to get information on Twitter, at the handle @TheBirminghamPlan. 

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

You are also encouraged to continue to monitor City communication tools such as the monthly Around Town e-newsletter as well as the upcoming Fall-Winter print newsletter, where articles on the Master Plan will appear. In addition, the monthly Inside City Hall video from City Manager Joe Valentine along with City social media platforms such as the City website, Facebook and Nextdoor will provide updates on the process. Finally, as mentioned, the project website, www.thebirminghamplan.com has an array of information about the current Master Plan process as well as insights into Birmingham’s history of municipal planning and much more. 


City of Birmingham Master Plan History
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.

Joint City Commission/Planning Board Meeting - Thursday, October 17, 2019


Master Plan Charrette videos and photos (May 2019) 
In case you were not able to attend any of the Master Plan Charrette public events, watch the videos below to follow what happened at the Charrette Opening Presentation (led by renowned Planner Andres Duany and his team from DPZ Co Design); Neighborhood book author Emily Talen's lecture; the Policies  round table with City board leaders and staff and the Charrette Closing Presentation.  

Citywide Master Plan May 14, 2019 from Bloomfield Township 2 on Vimeo.

Citywide Master Plan May 16, 2019 from Bloomfield Township 2 on Vimeo.

Citywide Master Plan May 20, 2019 from Bloomfield Township 2 on Vimeo.

Citywide Master Plan May 21, 2019 from Bloomfield Township 2 on Vimeo.

Charrette
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Andres Duany at Charrette space  5-14-19
Charrette Opening Presentation-Andres speaks1
Charrette Opening Presentation
255 S. Old Woodward
Closing Presentation-wide of room1
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