Comprehensive plan in early stages

Published 1:39 pm Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Wilsonville residents put on their thinking caps Jan. 8 to map out the town’s future.

The Shelby County Department of Development Services hosted a public meeting at Wilsonville Elementary School to jump start the development of the Wilsonville Comprehensive Plan.

Wilsonville Mayor Rosemary Liveoak said more than 50 residents and business owners were in attendance. Liveoak said the long-range plan will cover a 10 to 20 year period, and provide a framework for the town’s various entities.

“We discussed what values we hold as a community, and it’s important that we reflect and build on that,” Liveoak said. “We want to preserve history, but you can’t smother down growth.”

The Department of Development Services distributed surveys to residents to get a sense of public opinion prior to the meeting, Liveoak said.

Participants were divided into groups of four to discuss the town’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, better known as SWOT, said Shelby County senior planner James Ponseti.

“Each group took turns covering those four features,” Ponseti said. “The exercise was intended to get some sense of the community’s idea of what’s important.”

Although the results of the exercise have not been fully analyzed, Ponseti said residents cited schools, community participation and the Alabama Power Gaston Plant – Wilsonville’s largest employer – as strengths.

Participants also viewed photos of various types of community development, and were given a score sheet to jot down likes and dislikes, Ponseti said.

“(The exercises) are intended to help identify and prioritize the values or preferences of the community, which will help us shape the focus of the comprehensive plan,” Ponseti said. “There will be future meetings and more exercises to further focus views.”

Ponseti hopes to have the plan drafted by this spring. At that time, the Wilsonville Town Council will vote on whether to adopt the plan.