By Ryan Michaels
The Birmingham Times
For the first time in 15 years, residents in unincorporated areas can have a say in a Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan, which could help determine what they would like to see in their neighborhoods.
The first of four public meetings, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., begin Monday, July 31 at Clay-Chalkville High School, 6623 Roe Chandler Rd, Pinson, 35126
Others will be held at the same time throughout the week:
— Tuesday, Aug. 1, Gardendale Civic Center, 857 Main St, Gardendale, 35071;
— Wednesday, Aug. 2, Daniel Payne Plaza; Gymnasium, 1500 Daniel Payne Drive, Birmingham
— Thursday, Aug. 3, McAdory Middle School, 5450 Yellow Jacket Blvd, McCalla, 35111.
Michael Morrison, a planner with Jefferson County, said his office is trying to identify areas for preservation, as well as for growth in housing, amenities and industry.
“[We’re] trying to work with all the stakeholders, and particularly the residents of the unincorporated area so that when we get development requests, we can steer people to where it is that would be appropriate to sustain that type of development,” Morrison said.
The public’s input is also useful for determining what sort of public infrastructure investments are necessary for the county, he said.
“[It is useful for] guiding how we need to spend money on public infrastructure, places where there’s expansion or enhancements to area road networks, where there could be expansion or enhancements to area sewers,” Morrison said.
“Even getting into private utilities, where do we need to provide public water? There are several areas in the county where folks are still on well water,” he added.
These planning meetings are an opportunity for residents to ensure that the county listens to their preferences, Morrison said.
“It’s about getting the public’s input about what needs to go where, what you want to see for your area, and how do we how do we better control that? How do we better enhance that? What can we do to make Jefferson County a better place to live, work and play?”
This is a chance for residents to help determine what their neighbors look like before a zoning case comes up and it’s almost too late once it gets to the process when somebody’s coming in for a zoning case. “Let’s plan it now,” he said.
After all input is received and the existing comprehensive plan is amended, it will help shape the county’s future land use for the next decade or more, according to county leaders.
There will be a virtual option available to those who can’t attend the meetings at JeffcoTogether.com. The site will be open for feedback from July-31-Aug. 11.