Alabaster earns award for its future plan

Local residents participate in a public input session in 2015 during the city’s comprehensive planning process. The city has earned an award for the plan, which went into effect in March. (File)

Local residents participate in a public input session in 2015 during the city’s comprehensive planning process. The city has earned an award for the plan, which went into effect in March. (File)

By NEAL WAGNER / Managing Editor

ALABASTER – Alabaster has earned honors from the Alabama Chapter of the American Planning Association for working to lay out a comprehensive plan guiding development over the next several years.

The City Council voted earlier this year to accept the city’s “Alabaster Forward” comprehensive plan, which was formulated through a city contract with the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham.

The city has earned the American Planning Association Alabama Chapter’s 2016 Outstanding Planning Award for comprehensive plans.

“Alabaster has grown to over 31,500 residents, and has 1.1 million square feet of retail space off of I-65, with a trade service area of over 100,000 people,” read a Regional Planning Commission statement. “With this type of growth, the city of Alabaster recognized that it is at a crossroads. The choices it makes in terms of location, type and character of new development (and redevelopment) will have a profound influence for decades to come.”

Alabaster’s plan calls for neighborhood commercial areas near the intersections of Butler Road and Shelby County 17, First Avenue West and Shelby County 17, Industrial Road and Shelby County 95 and off Simmsville Road, which will be within a 10-minute walk of major residential areas.

The plan also encourages the city to consider adding more zoning categories in the residential, mixed-use, commercial and industrial categories to encourage more types of development – particularly in the old Siluria mill community and Medical Mile district on U.S. 31.

The plan also makes several recommendations for transportation improvements in the city, and proposed possible grants to help fund the projects. The plan recommends road upgrades on Alabama 119, Fulton Springs Road, Kent Dairy Road, Thompson Road and U.S. 31.

The plan also recommends new sidewalks and possibly bike lanes on Kent Dairy Road, Alabama 119, Thompson Road, Fulton Springs Road, U.S. 31 and Simmsville Road, among others.

Since approving the comprehensive plan, Alabaster established an overlay district along the Medical Mile, and has partnered with the Regional Planning Commission to create an overlay district and design guidelines for the Alabama 119 corridor.