Chelsea looking to plan for its future

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The city of Chelsea will soon have a comprehensive plan for the next decade … and beyond.

Several dozen residents attending a Thursday public input meeting learned what their town could soon look like. City officials and representatives from the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham spent more than two hours discussing possible changes to the city.

&uot;What do you want Chelsea to look like 20 years from now?&uot; city planning commission member Andy Wallace asked. &uot;Because if you wait until 15 years from now, it’s too late.&uot;

Some of the more ambitious possibilities mentioned Thursday include:

* An east and west urban interchange that will direct traffic around downtown by connecting county roads 39 and 47.

* A city center that will focus the town away from Highway 280. The center, which would be located near city hall, could include mixed-use development with natural resources, including a scenic park with lake.

* Railroad underpass to Old Chelsea.

* Double Mountain Preserve.

&uot;We’re going to have professionals to help us to make sure we touch the right bases,&uot; Wallace said.

Traffic is something that must be addressed, according to city officials.

There are currently 30,000 motorists traveling past Highway 280 in Chelsea per day. That amount is expected to double by 2025.

&uot;People are going to continue to move to Chelsea,&uot; Wallace said. &uot;That’s just part of society.&uot;

Not all city residents are excited about possible changes.

Several residents spent much of the meeting complaining about proposed changes. They mentioned concerns with possible zoning changes and even expressed concern about population growth.

&uot;If they want a starter home … go to Homewood,&uot; resident Joe Garity said. &uot;They don’t have to move to Chelsea.&uot;

Wallace urged those in opposition to changes to give city officials and the plan a chance to work.

&uot;Don’t judge the final product before it is developed,&uot; he said. &uot;We don’t have a final plan in mind.

&uot;Don’t fight us. Work with us … We’re not trying to hide anything. We’re trying to help the city of Chelsea.&uot;

He also touted the benefits of zoning.

&uot;Zoning can protect the property owners. It’s a balance.