A weeklong master plan input charrette process will take place at a storefront downtown May 14-21.

A weeklong master plan input charrette process will take place at a storefront downtown May 14-21.

Photo by Tiffany Esshaki

Birmingham seeks input on master plan for neighborhoods

By: Tiffany Esshaki | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published May 6, 2019


BIRMINGHAM — Over the years, the city of Birmingham has revisited and tweaked certain portions of its master plan, like for the downtown, the Triangle District and the Eton Street corridor.

But now the city wants to step back and spruce up the master plan that addresses the city as a whole, particularly the bits and pieces that connect the other portions: the neighborhoods.

A good portion of 2019 will be spent revamping the Birmingham master plan, last addressed in 1980. To get a detailed look at which direction residents think their city should be heading, officials have created several opportunities for public input.

Jana Ecker, the director of the Birmingham Planning Department, explained that the master plan is a comprehensive document that sets guideposts for future planning in the city. It doesn’t create any specific development, but it creates a conceptual map that city leaders can use to implement ordinances that will keep projects in line with that vision.

“The whole point is to get public input on what they want their community to become, and we’re calling it the 2040 plan,” Ecker said. “Over the next 20 years, where do we want to go? Who do we want to be when we grow up?”

To get that input, Birmingham hired DPZ Partners to facilitate meetings, surveys and other community outreach efforts. The contract for $298,000 was awarded through a bid process. DPZ launched a dedicated website for the master plan process, thebir minghamplan.com, where the public can complete online surveys, see associated documents and receive updates on what their neighbors are sharing with city leaders.

Also on the website is a list of drop-in events as part of a weeklong charrette May 14-21.

“Residents can flat out just drop in whenever they want or pick a specific section they have a particular interest in,” Ecker said.

Charrette sessions will be hosted throughout the week at 225 S. Old Woodward Ave.  in downtown Birmingham, with the exception of the closing presentation and a guest speaker that will be at Seaholm High School.

A full schedule of charrette input sessions can be found on the master plan website and the city’s homepage, bhamgov.org.

Planners will have a booth set up at the Celebrate Birmingham Hometown Parade on Sunday, May 19. Once the charrette wraps up and survey results are collected, residents can pop by a to-be-determined storefront for updates, including illustrations of proposed concepts. The location of that storefront should be announced by June, Ecker said.

She added that while the overall master plan will be broad-reaching and will touch many areas of the city, this is the best opportunity for the public to share concerns and ideas pertaining to residential neighborhoods.

“Birmingham is a really special place. There are very few communities like it, especially in metro Detroit. The neighborhoods you have are at the core of what makes you thrive as a community,” said DPZ Design Partner Matthew Lambert in a video interview on the city’s website. “It’s good to take a step back and look structurally how we can be better and take you to the next level as a community.”

An example that Ecker cited is the neighborhood near Frank Street, north of Barnum Park.

“There’s three commercial places there, right in the middle of a neighborhood,” she explained. “Some people might want to keep that and have a walkable place to go get a cinnamon roll or a coffee, but others may not. Those transition areas where neighborhoods meet other uses will be a big part of this.”

To complete the master plan survey or to see more information about the input process, visit the birminghamplan.com.