The City of Andalusia’s Planning Commission on Thursday began its first review of proposed updates to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
The proposed update was prepared with assistance from Concordia, a New Orleans planning and architectural firm with which the City has worked on downtown redevelopment projects.
As part of the process, the City provided two opportunities for public input. The first was a virtual town hall meeting held during the pandemic. Based on input provided in the online surveys, the City hosted a second opportunity for public input at the Adult Activity Center.
Andy Wiggins, the City’s Director of Planning and Development, said the plan addresses desires expressed in the community-input portion of the process like more green space, bike lanes, and more sidewalks. But, he said, it also includes suggested zoning changes that will be considered in the second step of the process.
“We know we don’t have zoning that allows AirBnB businesses,” he said. “But we already have some operating. We want to allow these businesses in a way that also protect surrounding property owners.
“We also need to consider allowing increased housing density by amending our ordinances to allow mother-in-law suites,” he said, using the example of someone who wanted to convert a garage or storage structure into a small apartment for an aging relative. “Right now, our ordinance does not allow those, so you have to go before the Zoning Board to get a variance.”
The Planning Commission is tasked with determining how the City will grow, he said. For instance, there are areas designated for agricultural use that could be developed for residential use.
The city’s zoning ordinance also needs to allow for mixed use, he said.
“We’re starting to see more interest in living downtown,” he said. “We also have some areas downtown that were zoned for manufacturing 100 years ago, but aren’t manufacturing areas now. Those need to be cleaned up.”
Planning Commission members will next meet in April with City personnel and Concordia representatives to answer questions that might arise from their review. Once the Planning Commission approves a draft, a hearing will be scheduled for additional public input before the final draft is considered for adoption by the City Council.
Planning Commission members include Sammy Hogg, Steve Posey, Alan Woodard, Mike Holloway, Brian Earnest, Billy Joe Stallworth, Mayor Earl Johnson, Councilman Joe Nix, and City Administrator John Thompson.
POSSIBLE INFORMATION BOX
Based on public input, the proposed plan addresses concerns and needs identified in the public input process, through seven big ideas, including:
• Improving transportation and mobility with additional active transportation infrastructure for public transit, walking, bicycling, and the use of golf carts for short distances.
• Increase housing choice and diversity, including more walkable neighborhoods.
• Continue to improve community attractiveness by creating great places that attract people and catalyze development and innovation, like the planned Heritage Park.
• Ensure that Andalusia has stable, safe, attractive and vibrant neighborhoods by maintaining high quality streets and amenities, rehabilitating vacant sites and protecting historic buildings.
• Develop efficiently to achieve fiscal sustainability and improve area quality of life, including development of underutilized and vacant areas.
• Create and maintain facilities, infrastructure, and land-use patterns that support active and healthy lifestyle choices for residents in their daily lives.
• Preserve the local character and natural resources by utilizing regulations and incentives that allow the City to grow without compromising the integrity of local character.