The Birmingham citywide master plan 2040, now in its second draft, includes improvements to North Old Woodward Avenue, including banded streetscaping and the possibility of a dedicated farmers market space with a pavilion.

The Birmingham citywide master plan 2040, now in its second draft, includes improvements to North Old Woodward Avenue, including banded streetscaping and the possibility of a dedicated farmers market space with a pavilion.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki


Birmingham releases second draft of citywide master plan

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published November 9, 2021

Advertisement

BIRMINGHAM — It’s been about eight months since the city of Birmingham released the first draft of its 20-year citywide master plan, and after a lot of input from residents and consultants, the second draft has been made available for review.

The master plan, last updated in 1980, will act as a guide for future development and ordinances in Birmingham. While it does not rezone property, it does set a framework city officials can refer to for new projects.

According to city administrators, the second draft of the plan is more concise than the original draft, with a number of modifications or omissions from the original draft, implemented by consultants DPZ and McKenna from public feedback collected during meetings, online surveys, emails and the project’s dedicated website, thebirminghamplan.com.

“We are very excited to have received the second draft of the 2040 plan after a long year of uncertainty, challenges and change. The second draft of the 2040 plan has been written with the past two years of public input in mind and addresses many of the concerns of the residents, Planning Board, City Commission and other stakeholders in the city of Birmingham,” Nick Dupuis, Birmingham’s planning director, said in a press release.

The second draft of the master plan was written in consideration of all input received and will be reviewed during a series of four Planning Board meetings, the first of which took place Oct. 13. Then the Planning Board and the City Commission will host a joint meeting to review the plan before it moves forward toward a final draft to be adopted next year.

Residents, business owners and other community members are welcome to attend meetings and share their input on the second draft. They can also download the plan in its current iteration at thebirminghamplan.com.

Many residents have already done that, sounding off about suggestions for multi-family housing developments and accessory dwellings since the first plan was released in February.

Consultants estimate the need for housing in the city will grow by a couple thousand units within the next 20 years, largely from middle-age residents and younger families. If those potential residents aren’t able to find reasonably priced housing — that is, residences priced below the multimillion dollar range — the city runs the risk of pricing itself out of sustainability with a declining population, and in turn, tax revenue.

But some fear their residential neighborhoods will be bordered with apartments and condominium complexes, putting a strain on city services, traffic routes and first responder availability, among other concerns.

“I do not want to have studio apartments next door to me in my single-family neighborhood in Birmingham. They will increase the population density, traffic and noise in my neighborhood while decreasing privacy, security and quality of life,” wrote one commenter in a post on the Birmingham-Bloomfield Eagle’s social media.

City officials have rebutted that argument, explaining that no multifamily residential developments have been recommended for neighborhoods; instead they are slated along high-intensity district seams, where residential areas meet commercial and mixed-use properties.

“We hope residents will take some time to read this important document, and we hope to see community participation during the review to help shape the future of Birmingham for the next 20-plus years,” Dupuis added.

The master plan website also includes relevant data, surveys, documents and an email communication option to send comments directly to the planning team. Information about how to participate in upcoming Planning Board meetings, both virtually and in person, can be found at bhamgov.org/participate. 

Advertisement