By Gary Lloyd
CLAY — About 15 people attended Thursday’s Clay Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, in which the group received input about the city’s comprehensive plan.
Commission member Steve Ostaseski made a presentation about the city’s last 10 years and asked members of the audience what they’d like to see in Clay moving forward.
The comprehensive plan hasn’t been updated since 2005. Ostaseski said the city is “still moving forward” despite some hard economic years.
Mayor Charles Webster said the city has worked on the plan the last couple years.
“We’ve made a lot of headway the last couple years in implementing the plan and getting it up to date,” he said. “Now we’re looking at moving forward with the next 10 years on what we can do to improve the city and the plans for the community.”
Key talking points at the meeting centered on the impact of the Northern Beltline and planning around its construction; connecting areas of the city with trails; plans for the Alabama Department of Youth Services campus if the city can acquire it from the state; economic development; and land use.
The city would like to extend trails throughout the city and to Turkey Creek, specifically through the Alabama Department of Youth Services campus and Shadow Lake property. A trail could link the Georgebrook subdivision with Cosby Lake Park. There are 540 acres of land in the area that could also be developed into a mixed use district — housing, commercial areas and walkable space.
Another goal is to develop a capital improvement plan for economic development and fill the vacant commercial spaces. Former Clay City Councilwoman Jackie Hambrick suggested a tax incentive plan be developed as a tool to recruit new businesses.
“We have to think about why they’d want to come to Clay,” Hambrick said.
Ostaseski asked those in attendance what they wanted Clay to look like in five years. Among the responses:
- Fill in city boundaries
- More green spaces and family areas
- Add shade trees to park areas
- More sidewalks and landscaping in an effort to beautify the city
- Fill all empty commercial buildings and recruit more businesses
Ostaseski also asked what Clay’s existing community assets are that the city can build on. Among the responses:
- Cosby Lake Park/trail system
- Alabama Department of Youth Services campus property
- Historical sites
- Vacant properties that could become new businesses
Residents suggested finding ways to add businesses. Webster said the city has no daytime population due to people leaving Clay to go to work. The “biggest drawback” the city has is in the restaurant category, since people leave Clay during the day. The city will continue to work toward acquiring its own ZIP code, something that makes a city more appealing to businesses.
“That’s a fight that still goes on today,” said commission member Dean Kirkner.
City Manager Ronnie Dixon said the U.S. Postal Service is “evaluating” Clay, and the hurdle to getting Clay’s own ZIP code is filling in all the city’s borders with unincorporated areas. Dixon wants the city to annex up Chalkville Mountain Road toward Trussville and toward Pinson.
“We’re way ahead of where we were two years ago,” Dixon said.
The commission wants Clay residents’ input on the city’s future moving forward.
“I wish this room were standing room only tonight,” Kirkner said.
Contact Gary Lloyd at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @GaryALloyd.