Pelham approves comprehensive plan without walking trails

After making changes to a section about greenway walking trails, the Pelham City Council voted Monday night to approve an update to the city’s comprehensive plan, a document outlining future land use of the city.

The council revisited the plan during a public hearing at the March 16 regular meeting.

The council originally held a public hearing to discuss the plan at the Dec. 16 meeting, but chose not to vote until parts of the plan were revised.

&uot;One of the things we removed was tying all the parks together by walking trails,&uot; said Pelham Mayor Bobby Hayes.

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

The municipality is required by state law to prepare and maintain a master plan for the city to serve as a guideline for future planning and development.

The update was developed by members of the Pelham City Council and Pelham Planning Commission who worked with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to prepare the draft.

Hayes and the council met with Joey Hester of the Regional Planning Commission after the December public hearing to revise the plan.

Hayes had opposed a part of the plan that suggested a greenway system with multi-use trails linking recreation sites such as Buck Creek, Bishop Creek and Cahaba Valley Creek.

The outlined trail system called for a trail that would pass under Interstate 65, which Hayes called unrealistic as well as the construction of trails through existing backyards, which he also objected to.

&uot;We went back to the drawing board to correct some of those problems and make it a better plan,&uot; Hester said.

He said the greenway system could still be realized, with some changes.

&uot;There is still some potential,&uot; Hester said. &uot;It just might not be able to be achieved to the extent that was first proposed.&uot;

Hester said the changes to the greenway concept were the only revisions made to the plan other than some &uot;minor changes in language&uot; to make the text more clear in parts of the draft.

Hester presented a map with an outline for suggested land-use including a breakdown of residential, recreational, industrial and commercial growth.

&uot;Most commercial growth is planned along Highway 31,&uot; Hester said. &uot;As it has been in the past, (Highway 31) continues to be a life-line for the city.&uot;

The plan calls for more pedestrian friendly village centers to combat strip development on Highway 31 and more centralized municipal facilities around city hall to create a &uot;civic heart&uot; for the city.

Hayes stressed the fact that the city cannot force developers to build in accordance to the plan, but said the council would encourage the concept.

&uot;If you saw the plan that was adopted 25 years ago you would be pleasantly surprised to see how our city has developed along those lines,&uot; Hayes said.

Also mentioned in the plan is looking into the possibility of an independent city school system.

&uot;That is something that is definitely in the future,&uot; Hayes said. &uot;We don’t see where right now because we are too far away.

&uot;We don’t have the funds right now.&uot;

Hester said the possibility of a Pelham school system and other highlights came directly from the public involvement stage of the plan’s development.

&uot;The goals and concept of the plan were the biproduct of the community,&uot; Hester said.

A community survey was held in July, and meetings were held in August and September to incorporate community involvement, he said