Pelham to discuss comprehensive plan at Dec. 17 meeting

A meeting of the Pelham City Council could dictate the future look of the city, shape its growth and maybe even plant the seed for a new Pelham school system.

The Pelham City Council will hold a public hearing at its regular Dec. 16 meeting to discuss the adoption of a new comprehensive plan for the city.

&uot;Continuing the Progress: Pelham Comprehensive Plan 2025,&uot; is an update to the city’s 1977 comprehensive plan.

A six-member committee, made up of members of the Pelham City Council, Pelham Planning Commission and city employees, worked with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, who prepared the draft.

It has already been approved by the Pelham Planning Commission and recommended to the city council.

A community survey was held in July and meetings were held in August and September to incorporate community involvement, according to Joey Hester of the Regional Planning Commission.

That public involvement, Hester said, was the foundation for a part of the plan that states Pelham should &uot;explore the possibility of creating a city school system.&uot;

All of the schools in the city limits &045;

Pelham High School, Riverchase Middle, Valley Intermediate and Valley Elementary &045; are currently part of the Shelby County school system.

&uot;Pelham doesn’t have much control over their schools because they are part of the Shelby County School System,&uot; Hester said. &uot;They are very interested in making sure their schools have the best resources available.

&uot;They might decide to look into that possibility (of creating their own school system) in the future.&uot;

The plan cites overcrowding, mobile classrooms (trailers) and athletic programs cut at the middle school as points of concern for Pelham schools.

&uot;It is anticipated that continued growth in enrollment at Riverchase Middle School will pose a problem in the future,&uot; the plan states.

The draft is divided into several sections including: Community Setting, Demographic and Economic Conditions, Land Use Plan, Community Facilities Plan, Transportation Plan, Housing Plan, Transportation Plan, Housing Plan and Capital Improvement Program.

&uot;This concept, if carried out, can take Pelham to the next level and make it more special than it already is,&uot; Hester said.

The draft states the plan is based on a 25-year horizon and is meant to be a &uot;flexible document&uot; to guide the city for future development.

The city is mandated by the Code of Alabama to prepare and maintain a master plan.

Hester said the lack of a distinct city center and strip development along Highway 31 influenced some of the points of the draft.

&uot;Really, the concept behind the community centers was to create an atmosphere in the city and give Pelham a sense of identity and a special sense of place,&uot; Hester said.

The draft outlines the need for more pedestrian-friendly village centers and more centralized municipal facilities around the city complex to serve as a &uot;civic heart&uot; of the city.

Hester said the plan also incorporates concepts of a connected greenway system to interweave Oak Mountain State Park with other city parks and greenway areas.

&uot;This plan can help the community promote safety, health and recreation to help set them apart from the pack and give the city an extra drawing card,&uot; Hester said