How We Grow Together - Relates to goals on planning and zoning; historic preservation, physical design and beautification; downtowns and riverfronts; neighborhoods; and roads and mass transportation.

  1. Planning and Zoning
    Our Goal: A region with an exceptional library system, extensive green areas and a major convention center, achieved through the implementation of effective planning controls and strict but creative zoning ordinances at the local level that provide for organized and orderly growth and that encourage developers and owners in adaptive reuse of existing facilities, demolition of abandoned structures and creation of more and better shopping venues.

    Recommended Strategy: Establish a nonprofit entity in each city in the region to accept donations of vacant properties for the purpose of adaptive reuse of those properties.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Investigate what other communities are doing, establish a model program and sell it to the region’s officials.

    Return Expected for Our Region: The elimination of non-productive and unsightly properties and an increase in tax revenue, benefiting the entire region.

    Another Strategy to Accomplish Our Goal:

    • Appoint a “Renew the Region” planning team of two elected representatives from each county and ordinary citizens from the five-county area to implement the goal; hire a professional land use consultant.

    • Establish county level planning commissions empowered to adopt ordinances for orderly growth and to direct, control and promote development.

  2. Downtowns and Riverfronts
    Our Goal: A region that contains restored, revitalized and redeveloped downtowns with vibrant shopping, recreation and living opportunities, where the river, made accessible and protected, is a natural link with the entire region.

    Recommended Strategy: Build a development catalyst and create downtown riverfront shopping, dining and entertainment: also develop new residential and urban dwellings while at the same time establishing economic incentives to revitalize downtowns and riverfronts.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Set a date for a city officials’ summit. The mayors should get together on a date and ensure that their respective city councils attend. A facilitator should be identified. Stress this strategy at the Elected Officials Roundtable meeting and at the business leaders meeting.

    Return Expected for Our Region: Untold economic growth to increase our tax base; increase in tourism; more entertainment here instead of Birmingham or Atlanta; a great new reputation, benefiting everyone.

    Another Strategy to Accomplish Our Goal: Enlist the aid of the Main Street Alabama program, the Main Street USA Program and the Voices for Main Street program to provide expertise, advice and fund-raising skills.

  3. Neighborhoods
    Our Goal: A region that promotes a sense of community and equality; revitalizes and preserves neighborhoods; promotes neighborhood associations, involvement and pride; encourages beautification, mixed-use and downtown neighborhoods; builds more gathering places (such as parks); and protects neighborhoods with effective ordinances that encourage people to stay.

    Recommended Strategy: Identify neighborhoods that need help and then establish a coordinated plan to bring those neighborhoods up to livable standards by tapping into a lending pool established by area banks committed to innovative development and redevelopment.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Conduct a media campaign focused on neighborhoods to invite citizens to participate in an issues forum at neighborhood association meetings that will address issues important to the communities. Continue to update and fine-tune the task force’s strategic plan and promotion of agencies involved in community development.

    Return Expected for Our Region: Neighborhoods will become more active, informed and will improve the living standards, benefiting neighborhood residents and the five counties in the river region and local governments.

    Another Strategy to Accomplish Our Goal: Teach neighborhood leaders the specific skills they need to advocate in public and private sectors utilizing collaborations to obtain funding from “for-profit” and “not for profit” entities to encourage neighborhood association growth.

  4. Historic Preservation, Physical Design, Beautification
    Our Goal: A region that provides a beautiful, clean living environment in all neighborhoods with special emphasis on enhancing our traffic corridor; i.e. through landscaping, eliminating billboards, creating underground utilities, adaptive reuse and infill while capitalizing on our rich heritage by restoring historic buildings and sites.

    Recommended Strategy: Establish a group that will develop a regionwide master plan for historic preservation and beautification to include proposals for: a) strengthening the effectiveness of existing regulatory processes, b) working towards a broad, regionwide regulatory body, and c) implementing an incentive program to support beautification and historic preservation.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Establish an initial group that will define the project in more detail, identify prospective participants, set a time and place for an initial meeting, issue the invitation, coordinate the meeting and immediate follow up steps, among which will be determining where the project will be housed and how it will be funded.

    Return Expected for Our Region: A more beautiful and attractive environment for the residents of the river region, as well as for visitors and future residents who might be drawn here, benefiting the entire region and our posterity.

  5. Mass Transportation and Roads
    Our Goal: A partnership of the five-county region that will develop an affordable, air service, water, and land transportation system and that will develop an efficient system that is multi-modal, safe, attractive, well-maintained, accessible and environmentally friendly, which embraces new technology and links together areas in the River Region.

    Recommended Strategy: Set up a five-county regional transportation authority to work with the Montgomery Airport Authority, the local chambers of commerce and our congressional delegation to form a regional planning/transportation organization to strategize, prioritize, secure funding and implement programs.

    Recommended Action to Begin Implementing the Strategy: Set up the task force to develop a written proposal and submit it to: a) MPO b) Regional Planning Commission; c) state legislative representatives. Get information about model programs from other regions. Follow up and monitor progress.

    Return Expected for Our Region: Speaking with one voice for more funding of regional projects; increased economic development; new industry attracted; increased tourism; more transportation choices, benefiting all residents, visitors and tourists in the River Region.

    Other Strategies to Accomplish Our Goal:

    • Merge existing mass transit systems into one River Region Transportation Authority to identify and correct barriers to efficient traffic flow and to develop a comprehensive regional mass transportation strategy.

    • Build bike lanes onto existing roads to accommodate bicycle traffic, reduce auto emission and improve air quality.