Citizens are generally quick to tell city leaders what they don’t like about government decisions and policies on zoning and growth.
“We hear many times about what people don’t want but we don’t get to see much feedback on what people want to see,” Fairhope Planning Director Wayne Dyess said.
But Dyess says Fairhope is taking the opposite approach as leaders contemplate how they want the Greeno Road area of town to look.
“A visual preference survey kind of turns that upside down and we get feedback on what people want,” Dyess said. “It helps us better plan for some uses and buffers and things of that nature for certain areas of town.”
The study was conducted by Hall Planning and Engineering and Christian Preus Landscape Architecture at a cost of $11,050. Part of the cost, $4,400, was funded by the Baldwin County Association of Realtors through a Smart Growth Grant and the city paid the remainder.
“Greeno Road is a very important corridor and an entrance into Fairhope that really sets the tone of Fairhope, and we feel it’s very important to make sure we get this right,” Dyess said. “We have had some developments we’ve struggled with over the years with Greeno Road about how to handle those. We hope the visual preference survey will help us get a better handle on that.”
Greeno Road is important to the city for many reasons, Dyess said, with several subdivisions along the road as well as businesses. It is also an artery for commerce.
Citizens were invited to two public forums to look at images of how they’d like to see the area developed, or they could take the survey online. The City Council is considering a 270-day moratorium on the filing of rezonings, site plan approvals and multiple occupancy project applications in the area while the results are being studied. The council is expected to consider the moratorium at the last meeting of the year on Dec. 20.
“The visual preference survey is a method using images and pictures to look at feedback from the public,” Dyess told the council. “You use a series of images of different kinds of development, different kinds of landscaping and different kinds of lighting. You have the public vote on what they like. The purpose of this was to try and get feedback from the public on what they like, what they don’t like and how it may relate to Greeno Road and greater Fairhope.”
Dyess said once officials see the results they will consider a zoning overlay district or a rezoning of the area to fit the images citizens liked most. The results of the study are expected a few weeks into the new year.