Community Master Plans serve multiple purposes, from governing how land should be used in the future to prioritizing municipal capital investments over a decade or more. In Michigan, Master Plans (also called Comprehensive Plans) are the legal basis for zoning and are encouraged to be reviewed or updated every five years by the state.
The City of Birmingham has a rich history of preparing and implementing community-wide plans and special area plans going back to 1929 when “The General Village Plan” was adopted by the Planning Commission (see the “Planning History” page of this website for more in-depth description of prior plans). Birmingham’s most recent Master Plan was written about 40 years ago in 1980. Since that time a number of smaller-scale or topically focused plans have been prepared, expanding on the 1980 plan. The Master Plan currently in process will aim at a 20-year planning horizon, envisioning locally-desirable improvements and land use changes to take place during the ensuing decades.
There are a number of required steps a Michigan municipality must take before, during, and after its Master Plan preparation. The process for preparing The Birmingham Plan: A Citywide Master Plan for 2040 is as follows.
Engage the public and various stakeholders.
Effective and responsive community planning efforts must meaningfully engage affected stakeholders. For this plan, the stakeholder group is broad, including all residents and property owners. The information gathered during public engagement is used to prepare consensus plans, set the course for how the community will change, and to guide vision statements and priorities for municipal investments for future generations. Public engagement through the Master Plan process will include community surveys, round-table discussions, a charrette engaging the community in the process of design and policy creation, public review of drafts, and public hearings prior to plan adoption.
Study current physical, social, economic, and related characteristics.
Master Plans must have a foundational understanding of the characteristics of their subject community, from neighborhood physical characteristics to demographic trends likely to be realized in the ensuing years. The study and analysis of “what makes Birmingham, Birmingham” is an important process element and allows the planning and design team to appropriately craft plans and recommendations for locally-appropriate future development, whether public or private.
Craft area-specific plans and designs.
With a focus on implementation, the Master Plan will contain plans and designs covering the entire City broken down into neighborhoods, corridors, and nodes. Birmingham’s downtown is an example of a node while the Rail District running parallel to S. Eton St. is an example of a corridor. As the City’s nodes and corridors have received significant attention since 1980, this Master Plan will specifically address Birmingham’s neighborhoods while also updating the nodes and corridors. To function as a tool for future zoning decisions and regulations, the Master Plan will include a “Future Land Use Map”, which guides how individual parcels may be used over time.
Regular feedback by elected and appointed officials.
The elected and appointed officials in Birmingham are charged with giving careful consideration to alternative concepts, creative ideas, and potential problems to be solved during the master planning preparation effort. Thus, to receive ongoing feedback, the project team will attend City Commission and Planning Board meetings regularly throughout the process and engage these bodies in the creation and review of Master Plan recommendations.
Adoption per Michigan statute governing Master Plans.
The Michigan Planning Enabling Act provides requirements for the adoption of Master Plans by municipalities, which includes review by neighboring jurisdictions and regional planning agencies, public comment period, and a public hearing on the draft plan. Once the required steps have been taken, the community is then able to adopt the Master Plan and get to work on implementation.”
You may also visit the City of Birmingham’s webpage on this planning process by clicking here: https://www.bhamgov.org/government/departments/planning/2019_city_master_plan.php