Shelby County residents invited to share comprehensive plan feedback at open houses
Published 12:17 pm Tuesday, July 26, 2022
By EMILY SPARACINO | Staff Writer
Shelby County residents will have more opportunities in August to provide feedback regarding the county’s comprehensive plan.
Residents may attend one of two open houses scheduled for Aug. 9 and Aug. 11 to share comments and learn about the draft future development map for Shelby County.
“The Shelby County Comprehensive Plan is your vision for the future of Shelby County, and we need your input,” read an email announcing the open houses. “Drop by one of the open houses to learn more about the ‘Future Development Map’ and give your feedback on the draft version. Staff from the Shelby County Development Services Department and the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham will be in attendance to talk with you and answer your questions.”
The first open house will be held on Tuesday, Aug. 9 at the Shelby County Services Building in Pelham, located on County Services Drive.
The second open house is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 11 at the new Shelby County Services Building on U.S. 280, located at the intersection of U.S. 280 and Dunnavant Valley Road.
At both events, residents may drop in anytime between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m.
A pre-recorded presentation will be provided on the hour each hour and will last about 15 minutes.
At a Shelby County Commission work session in January, Planning and Community Development Manager Christie Hester presented the results from a public survey Shelby County conducted last year to collect feedback from residents at the beginning of the planning process.
“A citizen-driven plan is an informed plan, which ultimately makes an implementable plan, so we always start with our citizens,” Hester said. “We want to make sure they have the information and the opportunity to participate.”
The county received 2,095 responses and 8,572 open-ended comments from the survey, which closed on Dec. 1.
As the sixth fastest-growing county in Alabama, Shelby County has changed in many ways since its comprehensive plan was last updated in 2004.
“In our 2004 plan, it called for more partnerships with our municipalities, so a lot of the partnerships that we’ve developed since then actually came out of our 2004 plan,” Hester said. “The county plan will assist elected officials and county leaders with decision making over the next 15 years. This plan will be a blueprint providing guidance for capital invests, growth and development.”
According to Shelby County Manager Chad Scroggins, the 2004 comprehensive plan kick-started the growth of the county’s park system.
“We’ve used the comprehensive plan and plan map at times to approve different types of zoning requests,” Scroggins said. “It’s important for feedback from the public to hit this plan for us to carry it through, but it also helps us understand what the residents want our budgets to invest in going forward.”
Highlights of the survey included the following:
• Top two strengths of the county
86 percent – Quality of public schools
80 percent – Quality of parks and open space
• Top two quality of life issues in the county
85 percent – Capacity and efficiency of the roadway system
75 percent – Rapid growth and development
• What goods, services or destinations do you leave the county for frequently?
57 percent – Entertainment and event venues
55 percent – Shopping
• What additional amenities are most needed?
74 percent – Shared use paths or greenways
73 percent – Outdoor dining
• Desired new development types
63 percent – Parks, recreational space and amenities
56 percent – Shopping, retail and entertainment venues
• Top two challenges to economic growth
59 percent – Capacity of the road network
26 percent – Availability of reliable transportation options
• Desired new residential development types
37 percent – No more residential development
36 percent – Clustered development that preserves open space
• Desired new commercial development types
45 percent – Redevelopment of existing sites
37 percent – Creating new or redeveloping existing town centers
• Best ways for the county to retain existing businesses
41 percent – Invest in infrastructure
35 percent – Invest in quality-of-life improvements
• What tourist attractions should be prioritized for funding?
82 percent – Oak Mountain State Park
76 percent – New parks and green spaces
• Desired recreational amenities
63 percent – Improve facilities at existing parks
54 percent – Off-road trails and greenways
• Desired transportation investments if the county were to receive additional funding
82 percent – Reducing traffic congestion
77 percent – Maintenance of county roads and neighborhood streets
“A lot of people move to our county because they like to be close to the number one draw, which is 800,000 visitors a year come to a now 11,500-acre park,” Scroggins said of Oak Mountain State Park. “People are drawn to the natural beauty of the county. Outdoor recreation is still one of our largest drivers.”
The Project Team consists of Shelby County Development Services staff members and representatives from the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, which has worked with Pelham, Alabaster, Calera and other cities in the county on their comprehensive plans.
In addition, a steering committee has provided input, direction and advice to the project team, as well as reviewed the preliminary recommendations.
“As we look forward, we understand that quality of life is just as important as growth,” Hester said. “We really want to focus on quality of life and creating those places that people love, that our youth will want to stay and live in our communities and bring their talents back.”
The final plan will go to the Shelby County Planning Commission for adoption and the Shelby County Commission for ratification.
The process should be complete by October.
For more information, visit the project website, PlanShelbyAL.com.