Westover Town Council approves comprehensive plan to control growth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 23, 2004

The town of Westover has taken a step toward controlling future growth with the adoption of a comprehensive plan.

The plan, unanimously approved at the council’s Tuesday, Nov. 16 meeting, was presented by Jason Fondren, a senior planner with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham. It had been previously approved the by the town’s Planning Commision.

According to Fondren, the plan includes three major elements, community assessment, a policy plan and land use plan.

Mayor Mark McLaughlin said the plan represents &uot;a year’s worth of work&uot; which makes &uot;livability a priority.&uot;

He said the town of Westover wants to be so well planned that &uot;when you leave, we want you to know you’ve left town.&uot;

Councilmember Larry Riggins thanked the Planning Commission for their work over the course of the past year.

&uot;I think we have a great plan. I know we have got the attention of some of our surrounding neighbors by where we are (planning for the future).&uot;

The plan includes six major goals: Plan ahead for growth to preserve small town character.

Progressive, adaptable regulations to balance economic development with desired community character.

Develop a convenient, functional transportation network.

Ensure mobility alternative (not only driving but walking, leisure and handicap accessibility).

Provide convenient, enjoyalble community facilities for all ages.

Provide equal cost-effective public services (water, sewer, police, fire, etc.).

Fondren noted that future land use plans only take effect when property owners and developers initiate changes.

Development strategies include:

* Center-oriented growth such as County Road 55 and Old Highway 280 (town center); County Roads 51 and 55, County Road 51 and Old 280 and County Road 55 and Rock School Road (neighborhood centers).

* Mixed-use activity centers.

* Shared rear parking.

* Strategic infrastructure development (in growth pockets first).

* Access management (U.S. 280, through and local traffic, fewer driveways).

* Traffic dispersal (enough roads).

* Neighborhood-oriented planning.

* Mobility alternatives (new roads, sidewalks and greenways).

* Coordination with private development.

* Context-sensitive design (based on what is).

* Preserving neighborhoods and rural lands (agricultural belt, low density residential, green space).

* Environmental protection policies and standards.

The plan also includes transportation and community facilities plan tied in to the land use plan (fire stations, new schools, a new town hall as town develops old town hall as a senior center).

Fondren also recommended other follow-up steps including establishment of priorities for capital improvement and other town investments, adopt zoning and update subdivision regulations (following the county’s lead).

Councilmember Jeanne Champion-Fisch reported that zoning package would be presented by the Regional Planning Commission at the town’s Planning Commission meeting on Nov. 23 at 7 p.m.

And in another matter, the council authorized use of the conference room at Town Hall as a branch library of the Harrison Regional Library with an opening date of February 2005.

Councilmember Ed Bahr reported that the town hall security system would be installed.

The council approved a sign from Cooper Signs for town hall at a cost of $225 for the sign and $50 for the post.

Fisch announced that Michael Sampsel is the new chairman and Tammy Fancher is the new pro tem of the Planning Commission.

Sarah Bragan was approved as a new member of the town’s governmental Utilities Services Corporation.

It was announced by Councilmember Annette Tyler that the Mt. Tabor Cemetery Association received its cemetery certificate on Nov. 14 and can now apply for a roadside marker. She also said the Beautification Board will meet on Dec. 4 at 10 a.m.

In other matters, the council:

* Approved payment to the town attorney.

Approved payment to Cooper Signs for four town signs at a cost of $950.

Approved an increase in the business license issue fee from $2 to $5 to come

into agreement with state code