Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan

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The Jefferson County Comprehensive Plan is a master plan for the unincorporated areas of Jefferson County, with guidance for coordinating utilities and other multi-jurisdictional projects with municipalities within the county. It is developed and updated periodically by the Jefferson County Planning & Zoning Commission.

The Commission, with its powers and duties, was established by Act of Alabama 1947-344. The law was written to apply to "any county in the state with a population of more than 400,000". (At the time of the 1940 U.S. Census Jefferson County had a population of 459,930 and the state's second-largest county, Mobile County, had a population of 141,974.) It called for the county to develop a "master plan" which would include roads, bridges, utilities, public improvements, and proposed land uses and regulations.

In practice, the county developed various individual plans rather than a "master plan". Between 1997 and 2006 the county adopted new more detailed land use plans for each of the county's 13 planning areas, which were based on census tracts. Meanwhile, a consortium of local governments commissioned the Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham to draft an Upper Cahaba Watershed Study in 2002, and the Jefferson County Department of Health completed its own public health plan, "Our Community Roadmap to Health" in 2006.

In 2007 the Planning & Zoning Commission began the process of incorporating all of those plans into a true "comprehensive plan" which would include the detailed land-use regulations along with short-term and long-term transportation and transit plans, utility plans, community development and revitalization plans, and recreation and conservation plans. At the same time, the county adopted different planning areas based on geographic watersheds rather than census tracts. The Shades Creek watershed plan was completed in 2008, but the process was not continued.

In 2021 the Planning & Zoning Commission relaunched efforts to develop a comprehensive plan with the slogan "Forward Together". The process was largely funded by the Alabama Department of Transportation. Orion Planning & Design of Missoula, Montana was awarded the contract to lead the consultant team, which also included AECOM infrastructure planners of Dallas, Texas; BGrace Media marketing agency; and Studio A Design urban planners. Public engagement events were held in summer 2023 in Clay, Gardendale and McCalla.

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