Planner unveils Village Center proposal for Indian Springs

A Village Center along Cahaba Valley Road, with civic, commercial and office uses, surrounding a Village Green could one day be part of Indian Springs, a planner told the Indian Springs Planning and Zoning Commission recently.

Members of the commission received their first in-depth look at maps and drawings of the city’s

proposed long-range plan last Tuesday. The 12-year-old city hired KPS Group, a Birmingham-based consulting company, last year to help develop the plan.

The city held a town hall meeting this past winter asking for input from some 130 residents in attendance.

From the suggestions made at the town hall meeting and meetings with city officials, KPS developed a draft of the long-range plan. The written part of the draft was distributed to city officials in June.

Indian Springs, with a population of 2,225, is largely residential with a median family income of about $97,000 per year, according to the 2000 census.

Most residents pride themselves on their large, rural lots. Some residents even have horses.

The city, which is largely operated by volunteers, has a small tax base without a sales tax. Building permit fees, utility fees, alcohol fees and vehicle registration fees are collected, however.

The draft states the need for the re-development and enhancement of existing commercial areas along Cahaba Valley Road and also the opportunity to create a &uot;Center&uot; to the village.

Darrell Meyer of KPS told city officials a Village Center would cost the city little if they offer an incentive package to a developer interested in developing the land around the village green.

&uot;Given the median income, the traffic levels and the accessibility to other communities, I seriously doubt you would have any trouble finding a developer for this,&uot; Meyer said.

The draft states that the Village Center &uot;cannot be another strip mall along highways, but can be a vibrant place for the community to celebrate. It should be a destination for Indian Springs Village residents and others.&uot;

Meyer said the Village Center should also reflect the rural character of Indian Springs Village.

He said as service and facility needs continue to grow, the Village Center, along with working to increase the business base in Indian Springs, would provide more commercial tax base for the community.

Another area he said the city should focus on for commercial development is the intersection of Caldwell Mill Road and Valleydale Road.

Meyer also stressed the need to &uot;take charge of the commercial image along Cahaba Valley Road,&uot; encouraging city officials to work to acquire and demolish buildings that are worth less than the land on which they sit. The land, he said, could be reused at a more intense level.

A drawing of the potential Village Center showed the town hall, an upscale gas station and a coffee shop along with about half a dozen other businesses surrounding the Village Green.

The present town hall is located on the north side of Cahaba Valley Road near Indian Springs School.

The proposed Village Center was drawn adjacent to Indian Springs First Baptist Church where the landscaping company, Earthworks, is located.

Directly across the road on property which is currently a car lot, the drawing shows proposed office buildings that have ground floor retail.

The Village Center, Meyer said, should have two roads along with two stop lights coming off Cahaba Valley Road.

Other aspects of a long-range plan Meyer discussed included annexing property that potentially could be annexed by the neighboring cities of Hoover and Pelham.

This, he said, would allow the city to control its surroundings.

Meyer said city officals should work to block attempts to widen Cahaba Valley Road.

&uot;Don’t let them five- or seven-lane this road. Keep it a rural road,&uot; he said.

Meyer also discussed the need for the city to implement some sort of tax, potentially a sales tax.

&uot;You can’t continue to keep running this city on volunteers. You are going to have to put a tax on something sometime. The sales tax would seem to be the easiest way to go,&uot; Meyer said.

He said the tax would largely be paid by people &uot;passing through&uot; the city anyway.

His suggestion met with approval from most of the commission members.

Mayor Gene Weingarten said a sales tax and an annexation push should be considered but feared older residents or &uot;the pioneers&uot; of the city would oppose the changes.

&uot;We have a group of residents who are heavy, hardcore against any more annexations,&uot; Weingarten said.

Planning commissioner Gerald Templeton said he wants to see the city pursue an annexation drive now and sales tax soon.

&uot;We have to look at what our grandkids will be left with. We need to get services for them and we get that through a sales tax.

&uot;Hoover and Pelham know about revenue streams, and they are both probably trying to figure out how to get more land down Cahaba Valley Road,&uot; he said. &uot;I’m in the camp we protect ourselves. I would like to go after annexing in (Highway) 280 if we can.&uot;

Planning commissioner Warren Jones agreed the city should annex bordering areas he said are vulnerable for commercial development by other cities.

&uot;We don’t want the land next to Oak Mountain State Park (along Cahaba Valley Road) to become a shopping center,&uot; he said. &uot;I say we surround the wagons because we have to protect the Valley.&uot;

&uot;We are heading toward becoming a non-residential area. We have to keep Pelham out,&uot; Jones continued.

Planning commissioner

and city councilmember Brian Stauss said the city needs to prioritize any changes it makes.

&uot;We have to protect the borders first before we talk about a sales tax,&uot; he said while referring to the Valley as a &uot;Sacred Cow.&uot;

The commissioners agreed to set a public hearing Sept. 10 to again meet with Meyer and also to let residents voice their opinions on the city’s long-range plan