With BP Restore Act money anticipated to flow into Fairhope during 2019 to the tune of almost $20 million, one project city leaders are particularly excited about costs less than $1 million.
There’s $6.2 million for a waterfront, pier and park project and more than $10 million to solve sewer overflows polluting Mobile Bay during and after heavy rains. But a growth management plan in the fastest-growing county in Alabama is going to be studied by experts and vetted by citizens during the next two years or so.
“The comprehensive land-use plan is for $650,000 and that will be an 18-month process,” Mayor Karin Wilson said. The money for the waterfront project is expected soon after Jan. 1, Wilson said, but the comprehensive plan and sewer money isn’t expected until late spring or early summer.
Planning Director Wayne Dyess said there will be plenty of opportunities for public participation as the city looks to define areas where growth would be most beneficial.
“There will be numerous public meetings,” he said. “This will be a very, very heavy public engagement aspect of the planning effort.”
Getting a grip on the infrastructure will be the first part of the plan, Dyess said.
“We’re trying to build on the whole village concept that was created many years ago,” he explained. “We want to combine utility infrastructure along with planning so areas we intend to see grow, we want to go ahead and plan for the utilities there that will have capacity and will include water, sewer, gas, roads, fiber. All those kinds of things.”
This will also help the city point future developments toward those areas, Dyess said.
“What we’re trying to do is provide a lot more clarity, a lot more definition to the land-use plan, so as a developer you know where the city is wanting to grow,” Dyess said. “You can look at our long-range plans and prepare your plans to meet those. Trying to predict future growth, we want to do some projections to see what we anticipate the growth to be so our plan matches those anticipated growth patterns.”
Community Development Director Sherry-Lea Bloodworth Botop said a concept first used in the aftermath of storms will be the model for developing future plans.
“Rebuild by Design is tried and true, and it really produces great results with successful input from stakeholders and is led by an expert,” Botop said. “Essentially, they are challenge meetings where you have tables of input and different tables come up with different ideas. You put challenges out to the different groups to come up with concepts so that you are getting the best ideas to present as a whole.”
Public meetings will follow, where citizens can see the ideas developed by the groups and issue their own opinions on the concepts or offer new ones.
“It’s a way of using community engagement and coming up with some creative concepts involving multiple stakeholders,” Botop said.
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